Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lighter blogging ahead

We've blogged a lot over the last couple of months. We've also had an exceptionally busy start to the work year. As a consequence, the batteries are running a little flat.

So we're doing something about that, and She Who Must Be Obeyed and ourselves are having a wee getaway. We're currently visiting family in Auckland, after which we will board a big silver bird for a short trip across the Tasman. Unlike New Zealand's premier arts and travel blogger, we won't be documenting our every move, but we will endeavour to stay in touch.

So blogging may be lighter than usual for the next week to ten days. Then again, some of our partner bloggers like Mykuhl and James Stevenson might be challenged to contribute. Of course, when we return we will be relaxed, restored and dangerous! Whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen.

Bear with us, and we'll be back full-time around the end of the month. In the meantime we have places to go and people to see! 

And don't forget to cast your vote in the Keeping Stock election poll which closes at 7pm tonight; exactly five months out from the real thing.

A manufactured SMOG

Whoever is doing David Cunliffe's social media has dropped the Labour leader in it again; Check this out:

As if it wasn't bad enough Labour being party to a manufactured manufacturing crisis, we doubt that nurses, doctors, emergency services personnel and others who keep New Zealand safe on long weekends will be particularly pleased with being termed part of the manufacturing sector.

We thoroughly appreciate the efforts of all these people, especially those who find themselves rostered on when everyone else is enjoying a long weekend. As if David Cunliffe politicising them isn't bad enough, he can't even acknowledge the true nature of the essential services they provide.

Hide on an unlikely "bromance"

Rodney Hide is scathing towards the bromance between new besties Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom. Under the headline Bromance of convenience Hide opines:

The intricate Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom dance is proving every bit as exciting as the royal tour. What makes the Hone-Dotcom tie-up exciting is its incongruity. It's the sheer implausibility of the marriage that commands attention.
The Mana Party represents Northland's poor and dispossessed. And here's Dotcom arriving at their conference with a cavalcade of late model European SUVs.
Dotcom drove up more like an African potentate than a suitor for the hearts and minds of Te Tai Tokerau.
Harawira believes "white motherf****** have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries". Dotcom is as white as white. The party that shouts the loudest about indigenous rights and Maori sovereignty is hooking up with a party led by a German self-styled "visionary". Dotcom is not even a New Zealand European but a European European.
Harawira says he would be uncomfortable if one of his seven children dated a Pakeha. But here he is hopping into bed with one.
Historical injustice hangs heavy over Harawira. He knows through political activism the power of potent symbols. Yet he dismisses Dotcom's signed copy of Mein Kampf as equivalent to owning a book signed by President George Bush. Even by Hone logic that's a stretch.

"Hone logic"; now there's an interesting concept. It actually explains much of what Harawira is about; if he can justify something to himself, regardless of how bizarre or perverse it may seem to others, then it's all ka pai. That's the only realistic explanation for the enormous disconnect between the Mana Party and Dotcom.

Hide then traces Dotcom's never-ending journey across the political landscape:

Dotcom has traversed the political spectrum. He started with John Banks. He famously donated to Banks' mayoral campaign. And when Banks became a minister Dotcom attempted to lavish gifts upon him. Former Dotcom staffer Alex Mardikian has spoken of Banks resolutely rebuffing them.
Mardikian says he now believes Dotcom was attempting to stitch Banks up. "No one rides for free with Kim."
Banks refused the gifts. When Dotcom was banged up in jail, Banks simply had his electorate staff check on him. That's what would be done for any constituent who rang. The donations and proffered gifts bought no special favours, which is exactly as it should be.
Because he received no special treatment, I believe Dotcom set out to destroy Banks.
Since being disappointed by Banks, Dotcom has played pied piper, persuading a who's who of political luminaries to make pilgrimages to his Coatesville mansion, often multiple times.
He has travelled across the political spectrum to settle upon the most unlikely of them all.

We have no doubt at all that there is a strong desire for payback from Dotcom in the John Banks donation case. The manner in which the allegations against Banks found their way into the media two years ago suggest a deliberate campaign to punish Banks for refusing to accept Dotcom's largesse once he had been returned to Parliament, and for refusing to intervene when Dotcom was remanded in custody.

Since the of course, there has been an unceasing procession of politicians through the gates of Dotcom's rental property at Coatesville. Winston Peters, Russel Norman, Clare Curran; they've all stopped by for a cup of tea with far more sinister overtones than the infamous Dilmah English Breakfast shared by Banks and John Key just before the 2011 General Election. And Hide is dead right; who would have ever suspected that Harawira would fall into the Large German Gentleman's arms?

Hide closes, declaring this an impending marriage of convenience:

Easter good news #5

This post has nothing to do with New Zealand politics. The good news to which we refer is the celebration today of the resurrection of Jesus.  Here's how the story played out:

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.
“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”
The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I’ll meet them there.”

Matthew 28: 1-10 (The Message)

At church services throughout the world over the next 24 hours, ministers and pastors will declare to their congregations "He is risen". The reply from the congregations will be "He is risen indeed".

The story of Easter is one of a miracle; the miracle of God's grace to his people, and of his amazing love. That's the best news of all this Easter weekend.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quote of the Day - 19 April 2014

The Sydney Morning Herald, via Stuff, summarises the hole that Oscar Pistorius has dug for himself. Pistorius has, of course, been helped, having been loaned a large shovel by prosecutor Gerrie Nel; check this out:

Edging towards the end of his cross-examination, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Oscar Pistorius who the world should blame for the athlete's actions in shooting Reeva Steenkamp dead.
After all, the wily Nel said, Pistorius says he is blameless because he just made a "terrible mistake" that night, reacting instinctively to a noise like "wood moving" in his toilet cubicle that he thought was made by a dangerous intruder.
"So who should we blame for the fact that you shot her?" Nel said, casting his arm around the court, as though anyone would do. "Should we blame Reeva? She never told you she was going to the toilet, should we not blame her?"
"No, my lady," came the quick response, addressed to the judge.
Was it the government then, Nel continued, for not doing enough about South Africa's crime problem, leaving the disabled athlete apparently so paranoid of attack that he would shoot at a closed bathroom door?
"I don't know who [is to blame], my lady," he said.
"You must be blaming somebody for this?"
"I don't, my lady, I believed there was a threat."
Pistorius' penchant for blame-shifting had been a recurring theme over the course of Nel's tough cross-examination, and the questions were a fitting way to end his take-down of the international sporting icon. 

Oscar Pistorius is now in a deep hole of his own making. Nel's cross-examination of him was a combination of the skill of a surgeon, and the relentlessness of a dog with a bone. It is easy to see why Gerrie Nel is nicknamed "The Pit Bull".

The full Stuff piece is here. It is well worth a read.

Easter good news #4

A reader sent us a link by e-mail on Thursday. And it's very good news indeed, especially for those who make a living from the tourism sector; Chinarealtime at the Wall Street Journal  reports:

From nerdy TV shows like “Big Bang Theory” to ancient poetry, there are plenty of factors influencing whether Chinese tourists end up eating cheesecake in Pasadena or, say, admiring a willow tree in Cambridge.
So much for the whims of Chinese tourists. But just how happy are they when they finally arrive in their actual destinations of choice?
A new report from a Chinese think-tank has some answers. According to the China Tourism Academy, among 22 destinations studied, the most satisfying destinations for tourists from the Middle Kingdom in this year’s first quarter were New Zealand, the U.S. and Canada. At the bottom were Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Rounding out the middle of the pack were countries such as France (No. 9), this year’s hot-spot destination of Japan (No. 12) and Russia (No. 15). (See list below for full rankings.) The think-tank is affiliated with the China National Tourism Administration, a government body.

China is an emerging economic powerhouse, with a rapidly growing middle class with money to spend. The numbers alone make China incredibly important to a small tourism market such as New Zealand.

And those numbers are set to grow further as more and more Chinese travel overseas:

Given the levels of smog and crowds that await tourists across China, it’s perhaps no surprise that more Chinese tourists are choosing to pack their passports and holiday overseas. CTA said that the level of satisfaction among domestic tourists is the lowest it’s been since 2009, with their analysis citing air quality as one driving factor.

Winston Peters may have a strong dislike and distrust of the Chinese. But the money that they bring with them is very welcome in the tourism sector, and in the wider New Zealand economy. Here's hoping that Chinese tourists continue to enjoy their New Zealand experience. 

Photo of the Day - 19 April 2014

The look of glee on TJ Perenara's face says it all. 

The Hurricanes halfback was on the end of a sweeping 80 metre move on the way to his side's bonus point against the Blues in Wellington last night. The Hurricanes won, 39-20.

With four wins in their last five matches including their last three in a row, the Hurricanes are playing some wonderful rugby. Last night's win took the side to fifth on the competition table, and second place in the New Zealand conference.

There's still a lot of rugby to be played, but the Hurricanes are playing a terrific brand. We might just have to plan a trip to Wellington on May 24th to watch their clash with the Chiefs.

Easter good news #3

There was far too much good news at the end of this week for it all to be crammed into one post. And this presser from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett brings very good news indeed:

15,000 fewer people dependent on benefits

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the latest benefit figures showing a five year low confirm New Zealand welfare numbers are back to where they were pre-global recession.
Benefit numbers have dropped five percent or nearly 15,000 to 295,320 in the past year (March 2013 – March 2014).  This has resulted in 17,700 fewer children living in beneficiary households compared to March last year and a whopping 29,500 children fewer than two years ago.
“Beneficiary numbers have fallen to the lowest level since March 2009.  When the Government took office in late 2008, the global financial crisis was already beginning to bite with benefit numbers increasing in the three quarters prior to and including the election,” says Mrs Bennett.

This is excellent news, especially the news that there are nearly 30,000 fewer children living in benefit-dependent households. There is plenty of research that shows that outcomes for children improve where one or both of their parents is in paid employment.

There has also been a significant drop in the numbers of teenaged beneficiaries; read on:

“The big success is the 10 per cent drop in sole parents and their children coming off Sole Parent Support. 
“More than 8,600 sole parents have come off Sole Parent Support in the past 12 months, making up almost 60 per cent of the total reduction.
“Particularly pleasing is the 13.4 per cent decrease in young parents aged 18 on Young Parent Payments.  We know that going on a benefit as teenager with children puts that person and their kids at huge risk of becoming trapped in welfare dependency. 
“In fact 70 per cent of the country’s future liability welfare bill can be attributed to people who first went on benefit in their teens.
“The reductions we’re now seeing will mean fewer people on benefit in the years to come.  We have more young people getting education and training through our Youth Service support which means we’re going to see healthier, more prosperous households,” says Mrs Bennett.

This too is excellent and welcome news. And further decreases in the number of people dependent on the state for support are likely as employment growth continues.

Paula Bennett's appointment as Minister of Social Development in 2008 raised eyebrows. But she has proved to be a formidable Minister, seeing off Annette King and Jacinda Ardern. Her latest opponent, Sue Moroney has yet to land a glove on Ms Bennett.

And Paula Bennett notes one final statistic:

Trotter on the Morgan Poll

Chris Trotter is the first member of the Left's commentariat to venture an opinion on Thursday's Roy Morgan poll. And his opinion is rather sober; he opines:

THE LATEST ROY MORGAN POLL has Labour on 28.5 percent (down 3.5 percent) and the Greens on 11.5 percent (down 1.5 percent). At 40 percent, the combined vote of the two main centre-left parties has fallen 5 percentage points since Roy Morgan’s previous survey in late March. Roy Morgan has long been the Left’s favourite polling agency: a source of good news when the Colmar-Brunton, Reid Research and Ipsos agencies could offer nothing but ill-tidings. That “our poll” has begun to deliver ill-tidings of its own is bad news indeed. 

Chief among the causes of this worrying decline must surely be the political antagonisms currently dividing Labour and the Greens. David Cunliffe’s decision to spurn the Green Party’s offer of an explicit pre-election coalition agreement, itself a reaction to internal Labour Party polling data, has clearly not been enthusiastically received by centre-left voters. 

The other cause of Labour’s 3.5 percent decline in popular support can only be the its leader’s ham-fisted response to the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Justified or not, the public perceived Cunliffe to be whingeing about the amount of face-time he had been allocated with the Royal Couple. New Zealanders are notoriously unsympathetic to “whingers” and they undoubtedly mentally piled Cunliffe’s comments upon all the other ill-considered statements he has made since January. 

In both cases the quality most conspicuously lacking in the Leader of the Opposition’s decisions was courage. Regardless of whether Russel Norman’s motives in offering to campaign for a “Labour/Greens Government” were well-intentioned or darkly Machiavellian, it is now pretty clear that the smart move would have been for Labour to seize the offer with both hands. 

Both Cunliffe the politician, and Labour the party, are in desperate need of action which marks a new and bold beginning. A deed which draws a line under the fumbles and grumbles of the past five years and lets the electorate know in the clearest possible terms that a vote for Labour/Green is a vote for something new and challenging.

And not content with questioning the Leader of the Opposition's courage, Trotter is scathing about Cunliffe's performance this week (after polling by Roy Morgan closed!); he continues:

The presence of the royal couple presented Labour with another opportunity for snatching the political advantage from National’s grasp. Far from complaining about the amount of face-time he had been scheduled with Wills and Kate, Cunliffe could have delivered a speech in which he announced (alongside Norman and Metiria Turei?) the Labour/Green Government’s decision to hold a referendum on whether or not New Zealand should become a republic. More than that, he could have announced that should the answer be “Yes”, the Labour/Green Government would bring into existence a constituent assembly charged with drawing up a new, republican, constitution for New Zealand. 

Both of these options would have allowed Labour to place itself at the head of a movement for radical change. Just as it did in the 1980s, Labour could have re-written the political rule-book and set the political agenda for a whole generation. In both cases the primary appeal of the policies would be to younger voters who, if history is any guide, could have taught their parents well about the urgency and desirability of embracing Labour’s changes. But, as we all know – and as the Roy Morgan Poll now attests – Cunliffe and his “Leadership Group” did neither of those things. The chance to break out of the ever-diminishing political space into which Labour is being squeezed was allowed to pass. 

And what did they offer New Zealand instead? A “cluster-truck” (hat-tip Te Radar) masquerading as coherent transport policy. So risible was this effort that the Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee, initially thought that journalists seeking his response were pulling his leg. Hastily devised and driven by the basest populist instincts, the only response Labour’s pre-Easter announcement on trucks, trailers and caravans succeeded in eliciting in any quantity was incredulous laughter. 

Does anyone know the whereabouts of that stalwart and courageous David Cunliffe who bore every insult that his enemies could hurl at him. The David Cunliffe who sat stoically on the back benches while his party fought for his return. The David Cunliffe who campaigned up and down the length of New Zealand for a rededication to Labour’s core values. The David Cunliffe who promised to rescue New Zealand from John Key’s “crony capitalism”. If anyone does know where he is could they please advise Moira Coatsworth and Tim Barnett immediately – he is sorely missed. 

And sorely needed. Because, if that David Cunliffe is not found – and soon – the pallid and oh-so-timid fellow currently masquerading as the leader of the Opposition is going to lose the election. Not just for Labour, the Greens and Mana, but for every other New Zealander seeking a radical change in their country’s direction.

This is pretty powerful stuff from Chris Trotter. But it is hard to argue that it is misplaced criticism. David Cunliffe had a shocking week; going missing on Tuesday, announcing a transport policy which has been widely ridiculed, and exposing himself to claims of hypocrisy for labelling Judith Collins the "Minister of Corruption" when he still refuses to name those who donated anonymously to his leadership secret trust.

The Roy Morgan poll was a final, and bitter blow in a forgettable week. It is the one poll from which Labour has regularly been taking comfort; "our poll" as Trotter so succinctly described it.

Is there any way back for David Cunliffe? That is today's great unanswered question.

Roy Morgan has long been the Left’s favourite polling agency: a source of good news when the Colmar-Brunton, Reid Research and Ipsos agencies could offer nothing but ill-tidings. That “our poll” has begun to deliver ill-tidings of its own is bad news indeed. - See more at:
Roy Morgan has long been the Left’s favourite polling agency: a source of good news when the Colmar-Brunton, Reid Research and Ipsos agencies could offer nothing but ill-tidings. That “our poll” has begun to deliver ill-tidings of its own is bad news indeed. - See more at:

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Good Friday reflection...

For Christians, Easter is a time of particular significance as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus - the very essence of our faith. For us, this Easter is particularly significant; it's fifteen years this Easter since we began a journey to become a follower of Jesus. It's a journey on which we will continue until our days on God's earth are done.

Music has always played a special part in our life, but when we became followers of Jesus, a whole new world of music opened up - contemporary Christian music, with all genres from soft folk to hard rock and hip-hop covered. We are blessed to be able to combine our love of music with our faith journey.

One of our favourite bands is the Grammy Award-winning rock band Third Day - southern rock, influenced by bands such as Lynard Skynard. And this is one of our favourite songs, and especially pertinent today. It's called "Thief" and tells the story of one of the thieves crucified alongside Jesus - the one who recognised Jesus' divinity as death approached, and to whom Jesus, almost dead himself uttered those amazing words

I tell you the truth. Today, you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Jesus makes that same promise today for those who choose to follow Him; the gift of eternal life, freely given, but at an unimaginable cost. All you need to do is ask.

However you celebrate or observe this season. may you have a blessed Easter.

Footnote: This will be our sole contribution to the blogosphere today. A little reflective silence will do us no harm whatsoever. See you all tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter good news #2

Well; this one is a mixed news story. For those who want the current Government re-elected on 20 September, it's fantastic news. For David Cunliffe, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei and their MP's and supporters, it make make Easter a little less palatable.

The latest Roy Morgan poll is out. And as Morgan polls tend to do, it has lurched again; here's the commentary:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a large jump in support for National (48.5%, up 5.5%) now with its largest lead over a potential Labour/Greens alliance (40%, down 5%) since July 2013 as New Zealanders celebrated the visit of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Support for Key’s Coalition partners is little changed with the Maori Party 1% (down 0.5%), ACT NZ (0.5%, unchanged) and United Future 0% (down 0.5%).
Support for the Labour Party has fallen to 28.5% (down 3.5%) – clearly the lowest support under new Labour Leader David Cunliffe, and the lowest Labour support since April 2012, the Greens have fallen to 11.5% (down 1.5%), New Zealand First 5.5% (unchanged), Mana Party 1% (up 0.5%), Conservative Party of NZ 2% (down 0.5%) and Internet Party (1%, up 0.5%) while support for Others is 0.5% (unchanged).
If a National Election were held now the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows that the National party would regain Government for a third term.

And it's not just the party figures; New Zealanders are feeling very, very optimistic just at the moment; read on:

The latest NZ Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has jumped to 143pts (up 10pts) with 65% (up 4%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 22% (down 6%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

It's the confidence rating that is Labour's biggest hurdle now. When three times as many people think New Zealand is heading in the right direction than think it's not, where is the mandate for change? 

So as David Cunliffe, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei eat their hot cross buns and Easter eggs they will doubtless ponder this poll which came out as Parliament went into a school holiday recess. Sure, Roy Morgan polls tend to be all over the place, but after a string of poll disasters, it was the one skerrick of hope they had. Where do they turn now?

Song of the Day - 17 April 2014

Curly Sue has been feeling creative again. We've just received this via e-mail:

 Clustertrucked (with apologies to AC/DC)
I was caught
On the motorway behind a slow truck(Cluster)
I look around
I think ‘ordinary Kiwis’ don’t like to be stuck (Cluster)
My mind raced
And I took the political view (Cluster)
And I knew
And I knew not just any old policy would do (Cluster)

Cannot be dumb
Move minds and hearts
Aim the guns
Keep cars and truckers apart 
You've been-clustertrucked

Free up the highway
Keep speeds up, in the right lanes
Regulate truckers, yeah truckers
They’ll never complain 
And if they do 
We’ll remind them of 2008
We make the rules, who really cares
Yeah, yeah, if their, their, goods arrive late?

I was shakin' at the knees
I am helping Kiwis
Yeah sweating the small stuff
You've been - clustertrucked,clustertrucked
Yeah yeah yeah, clustertrucked
Oh, clustertrucked
Trucking industry on its knees
Use Kiwirail please?

Clustertrucked, clustertrucked
Yeah yeah yeah, clustertrucked
Clustertrucked yeah, yeah, yeah clustertrucked

Said yeah, it's alright
I’m, doing fine
Kiwis gonna love it
Its Cunliffe time
I’m so fine

Clustertrucked, yeah, yeah, yeah,
Clustertrucked, clustertrucked, clustertrucked
No criticism, baby, clustertruck
You've been clustertrucked, clustertrucked
Clustertrucked, clustertrucked
You've been clustertrucked

Just in case you've been living under a rock, or you've never heard of AC/DC (who may have played their last gig), check out the inspiration:

Thanks a bunch Curly Sue; let's rock it out into Easter! And if you're on the roads, as we will be on Saturday, take care, and don't get Clustertrucked!!

Armstrong on Collins and truth

John Armstrong takes a close look at the Judith Collins/Oravida allegations. Under the heading Peters faces wait to complete Oravida jigsaw Armstrong opines:

Winston Peters has gotten to the very heart of the vital matter of whether Judith Collins is guilty of such a serious conflict of interest that she would have to be sacked from the Cabinet forthwith.
In tandem with Labour's Grant Robertson, the New Zealand First leader has pieced together a jigsaw of separate events and happenings involving Collins, the milk-exporting company Oravida, and the Chinese border agency which blocked dairy imports after the Fonterra botulism scare last year.
It goes beyond Collins creating the "perception" of a conflict of interest — something the Cabinet Manual stresses Cabinet ministers must avoid and which Collins acknowledges her actions created.
The two Opposition parties claim enough information has now seeped into the public domain to suggest Collins had a real conflict of interest — one from which she stood to benefit from financially.
Unfortunately for Peters and Robertson, a rather vital piece of the jigsaw is missing.

Well colour us surprised; Winston Peters had made an allegation that he cannot substantiate! Just like the impending sale of Huka Lodge to the Chinese; just like any number of Peters beat-up over the years, he cannot deliver the coup de grace. There's a good reason for that; in the Oravida case, there IS no coup-de-grace.

Armstrong continues, getting to the heart of the issue:

That piece, which would join all the dots, is proof that Collins lobbied a Chinese official to exempt Oravida from China's freeze on dairy imports.
Without that proof — and Collins strenuously denies that she engaged in any such behaviour — the evidence remains circumstantial and any conclusions are therefore only conjecture.
The latter commodity is not sufficient reason for John Key to relieve Collins of her ministerial warrants; he has to take his minister at her word. If that word is found to be in conflict with the truth, however, then he will have to dump her from his ministry.
Given she has issued repeated denials in the House, she would probably have to leave Parliament altogether if she is found to have been economical with the truth. That Collins is risking such a tough sanction suggests she has been truthful.

John Armstrong does a far better job than the likes of Patrick Gower, Duncan Garner and Corin Dann have done. Instead of being duped by Peters' promises to bring down a Minister and with her John Key, Armstrong understands that all that Robertson and Peters have is rhetoric and speculation. They have no evidence that Ms Collins discussed Oravida at that infamous dinner. On the other hand, Judith Collins has steadfastly maintained her position.

And Armstrong closes with a reference to Winston Peters' time-honoured modus operandi:

Easter good news #1

The Easter weekend is just hours away. And it's great to head into the weekend on the back of some welcome good news; Stuff reports:

The labour market is taking off, with more jobs advertised in March, continuing a run of rises for three months in a row, a bank survey shows.
A strong economy is now being accompanied by rising employment, that will provide a backbone to household income growth over the months ahead.
The latest ANZ job ads survey points to unemployment falling from 6 per cent at the end of last year to 5.7 per cent at the end of March and dropping even more in coming months.
The number of job advertisements lifted 1.1 per cent in March, seasonally adjusted.
"This bodes well for an ongoing downward trend in the unemployment rate." ANZ said. 

This is the news that New Zealand needs to hear. Job growth is the last remaining plank of the economic recovery to become firmly embedded, but there are some definite signs of that happening. We expect the March Household Labour Force Survey which will be released in early May to confirm that unemployment has fallen below the 6% mark.

The Government has a very good story to tell when it goes to the hustings in a few months. The economy is recovering strongly, the budget will be back in surplus next year, growth right across the economy is strong, and employers have the confidence to create new jobs and invest in their businesses.  

Why would any sensible voter put that at risk?

Henry on the #Clustertruck policy

Paul Henry gives his verdict on Labour's transport policy:

This policy is a complete and utter #clustertruck; need we say anything more?