Friday, September 28, 2007

Kill the Bill Campaign launched

WhaleOil is advising on his site that he, David Farrar and Bernard Darnton have launched the Free Speech Coalition, with the express purpose to Kill the Bill - check out the link, which no doubt many other blogs will be carrying.

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/

http://www.killthebill.org.nz/

Join in to Kill the Bill!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Are We On the Slippery Slope?

Everything has been a bit haywire on the workfront in the last few days, so blogging has taken a back seat, which explains me being a bit slow off the mark with this post - but here goes anyway!

Mathew Hooton wrote a particularly caustic piece in this week's Sunday Star Times. Here's the link, but in case it disappears, I'll reproduce the first few paragraphs:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4211539a22678.html

Under the headline "What Next? Yellow Stars? Hooton wrote:

"The early building blocks of fascism are being put in place in our country.

How long before the Labour Party decides that some people should be made to wear yellow stars?
Many will find it difficult to believe that the early building blocks of fascism are being put in place in our country, especially under a Labour banner. That is exactly what is happening under Helen Clark's government, and intentionally so.

This week, Steve Maharey, a man Labourites seriously promote as a potential prime minister, told parliament: "The intention of (the Electoral Finance Bill) is to capture people like the Exclusive Brethren, not the Catholic Church." A potential Labour prime minister actually said that in our parliament, but it gets worse.

No less than the deputy prime minister, Michael Cullen, asked the justice minister to amend the bill so that the Catholic Church's planned anti-poverty campaign would be allowed to proceed, on the grounds that it would support Labour's Working for Families policy, in contrast to something the Brethren might say.

That, too, was actually said in our parliament. Our deputy prime minister and a potential Labour prime minister are openly arguing that some religious groups should be allowed to express their views, while others should not.

It is difficult to believe this is happening in our country, but people need to wake up to the fact that it is. If it goes on, we risk reaching the moment of political crisis, when the people must act."


That's pretty powerful stuff from Mathew Hooton, even setting aside his links to the National Party and his distaste of all things left of centre-right. As a Christian, it certainly rang a few alarm bells, and set me thinking. Clearly, the government has an unhealthy obsession with the Exclusive Brethren. But is that sufficient justification to enact legislation which, if it comes back from the Select Committee without major surgery, is going to severely restrict the ability of the government's opponents to express opinions in election year? And once the Brethren have been silenced, who's next? Destiny? Mainstream protestant churches? Where does it stop?


Hooton went on to say:


"Lest it be thought I'm a Brethren sympathiser, the truth is that my poor daughters are far more likely to endure parental readings from Richard Dawkins than anything from the Bible or Koran. With the decline of organised religion in New Zealand, I may even be in the majority, but that is exactly why the Brethren's right to free speech must be defended, and why Maharey and Cullen's statements are so evil. Both would once have recognised it."


That's a pretty strong accusation that Labour has deserted its roots, and that those on the front bench especially have become so obsessed with the pursuit of power at any cost. It's certainly not the Labour Party of Michael Joseph Savage! But Hooton wasn't finished, and provided the following quotes:

"As an historian, Cullen must have read the words of Robert H Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials: "The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish."

Maharey has surely read Noam Chomsky: "Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favour of free speech, then you're in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favour of free speech."

Both must have read George Orwell: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Labour's desire to control what we can say and write, and read and hear, extends beyond the bill."




This is pretty heavy stuff! But as I have said in previous posts concerning the EFB, it is a sinister and insidious piece of legislation, and it's about time that the MSM had the courage to confront the government.

Hooton closed with the following:

"Politically motivated sackings. Ministers deciding which religious groups should be allowed to speak. Bureaucrats being instructed to peddle propaganda for the ruling party. Registers of political activity. This is not a scene from Sleeping Dogs. It's our reality, today, under Clark."


Reaction in the blogosphere was swift, and on the blogs I read, strongly supportive of Hooton's statements. Reaction in the MSM was muted! Quelle surprise! Among the commenters on Kiwiblog was the former ACT MP, Stephen Franks, and I close with these comments from him:

"This is our generation’s fight for freedom.All the anti-discrimination rhetoric and legislation of the past 20 years has been hypocrisy. Terrorised by a farcical expression of EB views, the left Establishment have shed their sheeps’ clothing of pretended tolerance (expressed mainly in law ordering ordinary people to pretend tolerance).

The long term worry is not now those who’ve been exposed. It is how we recreate media sensitivity to hypocrisy. Intolerance has masqueraded as “human rights activism” for years. That brainwashing seems to have worked. Journalists who should have been sceptical have not blown the whistle. This thread blows them."

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Durban Curse - South Africa Chokes Again!

I must confess - I am a cricket tragic. Much as I love rugby and golf, cricket has been my passion since my youth - in other words, for longer than I care to remember! For a fair hunk of our stay in Christchurch, we didn't have Sky TV, so I missed the early games of the 20/20 World Cup in South Africa. It was great to get home earlier in the week and catch up on the action with the BlackCaps.

So I got up this morning, flicked on the TV, and watched the South Africa vs India match from Durban - almost a home game for the Indians, with the huge Indian population in and around Durban! South Africa, batting second, held all the cards, and should have batted New Zealand out of the tournament - but no-one told the Indians! They put on an inspired bowling and fielding performance to end the tournament for the home side. The irony of the venue to - Kingsmead in Durban, where in 2003 Shaun Pollock totally stuffed up a Duckworth-Lewis calculation to see the Proteas eliminated from the ICC World Cup! Thanks South Africa - now there's a semi-final to look forward to tomorrow night!

I read the reviews on cricinfo.com a few minutes ago, then scrolled down to one of my favourite parts of that excellent site from cricket tragics like myself - "Quote....Unquote" - where you get some wonderful quotes, including this one which was rich in irony:

""I don't think there's really time to choke, everything happens so quickly." South Africa won't get a chance to repeat what they are known for at the ICC World Twenty20, says Shaun Pollock" - care to rethink that one Shaun?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where's Wally? The Saga of the Missing Minister

The Electoral Finance Bill - you know - the one that the Human Rights Commission says "will infringe certain human rights - most obviously freedom of expression but also the right of all citizens to participate in the election process" is sponsored by the very erudite Minister of Justice, the Hon Mark Burton.

Since the Bill was introduced, Burton has faced a daily grilling from the opposition, most notably Bill English. Burton's answers have, in general, been most remarkable for the number of words he is able to use to say nothing of consequence. English has, to use boxing lingo, jabbed away at Burton, and when he has found an opening, landed some pretty solid blows, to the extent where many of Burton's colleagues have had to look the other way! Burton has, quite frankly, handled the introduction and defence of this insidious piece of legislation ineptly, and lacking conviction.

In speculating on Helen Clark's cabinet reshuffle options, the Sunday Star Times, no friend of the right, made the following observation about Burton. "If Wilson left she could be replaced by mistake-prone Justice Minister Mark Burton, whose inept handling of the Electoral Finance Bill means he is expected to be shunted sideways in the Cabinet reshuffle. He has previously wanted the speaker's chair. A Labour source told the Star-Times such a switch would be "a very elegant solution" and the idea was "fair speculation". Another article in the same edition said "Clark is expected to drop Justice Minister Mark Burton from cabinet, but not to make serious changes to the front bench. The senior circle will remain, with all its strengths, weaknesses and over-familiarity. Burton has never been a powerful or popular figure with his colleagues or the public, and has made a hash of the electoral funding reforms. But Clark is moving cautiously even with this eminently expendable figure. "

That speculation has been bourne out in the House, and it seems as though the sword has aleady fallen. For the last four sitting days, Steve Maharey has answered questions addressed to the Minister of Justice. It would appear that Clark has totally lost confidence in Burton - which begs the question - if he can't be trusted to answer questions about legislation he himself has promoted, why should he be trusted to remain in Cabinet, enjoying the baubles of office? The charade of a "minder" having to be employed to deflect the opposition's legitimate questions threatens to bring the House, and the government, into disrepute - although, in the government's case, that should be FURTHER into disrepute!

The EFB has been a disaster right from its introduction. Come on Labour, Kill the Bill, get around the table, consult the public, and start again. In the meantime - where IS Mark Burton?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The EFB saga continues - when will Labour learn?

Select Committee hearings are well underway for the much-maligned Electoral Finance Bill, and Labour seems to be intent on rushing the Bill through before the Christmas recess, with minimal changes. That's despite widespread opposition from a wide range of sources on all sides of the political spectrum. Despite Helen Clark's comments a few weeks ago that the Bill wouldn't survive the Select Committee process without major surgery, Labour, and notably NZ First still seem hell-bent on the draconian third-party provisions which will have a profound effect on freedom of speech in election year.

This morning's NZ Herald is reporting on some unexpected oppostion to the EFB - the Human Rights Commission, PPTA and NZEI!! Read it for yourself:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10464328

Audrey Young's piece starts as follows: "In a damning submission on the Electoral Finance Bill, the usually conciliatory Human Rights Commission says the bill should be withdrawn, describing it as a "dramatic assault" on fundamental human rights." Coming from a quasi-government organisation such as the HRC, this is pretty serious condemnation. Add to that the criticism from two teachers' unions, long-time allies of Labour, and one might think that Labour would be taking notice. I'll believe that when I see it though!

Greetings

At last. After a week and a half in Christchurch, it's back to the office today, and time to face the piles of work which have mysteriously accumulated in my absence.

Christchurch was great - fantastic weather, but spoiled by all the local body election advertising. Literally every second house has multiple signs on its fence, and by the time we left yesterday, I was sick of the sight of Tony Milne beaming at me from every intersection!. Lots of letters to the editor of the Press criticising the 2021 Party for being Labour in drag!

Meanwhile, it's nice to be back on broadband, so the blogosphere will get a viewing today - after all, all work and no play isn't a great idea!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Back soon!

Mrs Inventory and I are venturing off to the Mainland for a conference and a few days of R&R, so there won't be too much action on Keeping Stock for a week or so, unless I can get my hands on her........laptop!

Enjoy life while I'm gone, and.........KILL THE BILL!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Facelift - or Helen, Warts and All

Over the last few weeks I've tended to forget that Facelift was on, and have either missed it, or just caught the end. Last night my wife wanted to get on my computer, just as Facelift was starting. For once, I was glad she did.

Last night's episode was a classic - from the parody of the TV ad where the woman throws a tanty in the supermarket aisle, to the Muldoon/Clark comparisons, to the Mathew Ridge meets David Beckham skit, there were belly laughs aplenty. My personal favourite was Clark morphing in and out of Muldoon's persona while meeting with Mallard and Cullen. Then this morning, I found a wee treasure! You can log on to tvnzondemand.co.nz, and watch the best bits again and again! Here's the link to last night's "highlights package":

http://tvnzondemand.co.nz/content/facelift_s4/ondemand_video_skin?tab=CATCH%20UP&sb=date-descending&e=facelift_2007_ep9#ep_facelift_2007_ep9

The Clark/Muldoon skit was pure genius - a throwback to the best days of David McPhail, and his portrayal of the "old tusker", and evocative of many memories of the good old days! The money line "I know - I'll get pissed and call a snap election! John Key won't know what's hit him. Vote for me - warts and all heh, heh, heh" was brilliant. The worm has certainly turned against the PM!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Compassion or Convenience?

The NZ Herald website is reporting that Iranian hunger striker Ali Panah has been released on bail this afternoon, on the condition that he abandons his hunger strike

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10461411

On the face of it, this is a pretty significant backdown by the Government, in response to growing protests about Panah's situation. Panah has committed no crime. That is, unless you regard his failure to convince the Refugee Status Appeals Authority that his conversion to Christianity is genuine, as is the threat to his life should he return (or be returned) to Iran as criminal behaviour! Despite that, he has been held in Mt Eden Prison for 20 months. It would appear that either the Immigration Service has had a significant attack of compassion overnight, or Immigration Minister David Cunliffe does not want the inconvenience a hunger striker dying on his watch! Given the barrage of bad publicity that has beset the government of late, that would be entirely understandable - however I'm giving Cunliffe the benefit of the doubt!!

As a Christian myself, I am pleased to see sanity prevail in this case, at least in the meantime. This government is probably the least "Christian-friendly" in New Zealand's history, and it is no surprise that Panah's Christian conversion has been called into question. Would it be the same for a Muslim or Hindu who feared persecution by Christians? I think not. Our church added its prayers yesterday for Ali Panah to the many others from throughout New Zealand. I won't go into a lengthy dissertation about answered prayer, but I know what I believe! In the meantime, I will be adding my name to the list of those who have written to David Cunliffe asking him to use his Ministerial discretion, and allow Panah to remain in New Zealand, in the hope that he can, like Ahmed Zhaoi, make a positive contribution to this country.


Postscript: I've just reflected on an earlier article from this morning on the Herald's website:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10461364

If the Immigration Service's change of heart has come at the urging of the Minister, it represents a paradigm shift in David Cunliffe's thinking. A few hours is, indeed, a long time in politics!

Post-Postscript: I've now seen the TV3 coverage of this story, and commend David Cunliffe for being prepared to revisit this case, at least in the interim. His demeanour was in stark contrast to what we have witnessed from Labour in recent weeks.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mike Moore's revenge - Part II

Like many, I'm still trying to get my head around Mike Moore's extraordinary attack on Helen Clark and her government. Clark might dismiss it as "just Mike", but we remember her saying exactly the same thing last year when Trevor Mallard was making the "speaking of affairs" interjections against Don Brash - and hasn't that come back to bite Mallard!

Clark has clearly been stung by the criticism from within the Labour movement. It will be interesting to see if the attacks on John Key continue when the House resumes on Tuesday. Clark will be away most of the week at APEC, so if Hodgson and Co continue their innuendo, she will be able to disclaim knowledge and sanctioning the attacks.

Moore's criticisms are still being given legs by the MSM however, which must be greatly displeasing Dear Leader. For almost 8 years the MSM has been pretty friendly to Clark's administration, so it has been interesting to see so much negative comment towards Labour in the last few weeks. The Herald on Sunday continues that trend with today's editorial headed "Moore's scattergun shooting hit some targets dead centre" - here's the link:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10461149&pnum=0

The closing three paragraphs hit the jackpot as far as I am concerned:

"Labour may not like it, but the fact is that many of Moore's random shots hit their targets dead centre. The co-ordinated Parliamentary attack on Key did him no damage at all but severely dented the Government's own credibility. The fact that the second wave of attacks, the queries raised about Key's multiple addresses which turned out to have no substance, was led by Pete Hodgson, whose health portfolio is full of far more pressing problems than the Opposition leader's domestic arrangements, simply compounded the offensiveness of the approach.

The PM may maintain a lofty distance from the Government's recent strategy but we may be sure she is driving it. Whether it is the politics of personal destruction or the rough-and-tumble of Parliamentary politics in an age where proportional representation makes for odd allies is a matter that may be debated. What is beyond dispute is that it is having a disastrous effect on the Government's popularity. In the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey, National has doubled its lead over Labour and could, if the results translated into election votes, govern alone.

The PM's office blamed the figures on the Benson-Pope effect but must surely know that, if the unlamented environment minister could alone have such an impact on the Government's electoral fortunes, it would have long ago been polling below the 5 per cent threshold. It may like to consider an alternative explanation: that Mike Moore has a point. Or two. And that what he thinks, many voters are thinking too."

The next round of polls will be interesting, and revealing. If Labour continues to poll in the mid-to-low 30's, or even worse, the unrest in the Labour caucus will grow. Will Phil Goff challenge Clark for the leadership? Will Clark, the consumate politician (in her own eyes!) tough it out? Will Clark, the pragmatist, accept that reality that the love affair with Labour is over, and stand aside to avoid electoral annihilation?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Changes to the EFB - Too Little Too Late?

Vernon Small reports in this morning's DomPost that the government is signalling sweeping changes to the Electoral Finance Bill.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4185835a6160.html

It's evident that Labour is becoming aware of just how widespread opposition is to this insidious piece of legislation, and it's no surprise that they now want to take the surgeon's knife to it. However, instead of cosmetic surgery, Labour needs to do a complete excision - cut the Bill from the Order Paper, and start again - with genuine multi-party input. Bill English has come out swinging at Labour's proposed changes, and the methodology.

National Deputy Leader Bill English said Labour should confirm reports it was poised for "major surgery on the fatally wounded" bill.
It was planning to dump the select committee process and make a mockery of submissions, which had been made on the draft law.
"Helen Clark, having said that she trusts the select committee to fix the legislation, now appears to have changed her mind."


Once again, it seems that the government is going to tamper with the process - Labour is going to make a mockery of the democratic process, much as they did last year in passing legislation to validate their illegal election spending. Put plain and simply, Labour legislated to legitimise their own theft. The time is fast approaching when all of us, from all walks of life and points of the political compass must unite and send the government and its support parties a clear and unambiguous message. Kill the Bill, go back to the table, and try again. The EFB is so fundamentally flawed it cannot be allowed to pass through in its present form, and the government MUST allow sufficient time for the public to be heard. There is far too much at stake here to do otherwise.