Wednesday, April 30, 2008
So what's the big story here? Well, let's back the truck up for a moment. Which of the two major parties made lots of noise last year about anonymous donations, big money, and the need for transparency in election funding? Need a hint? It wasn't National! Next question - which of the two major parties received anonymous donations toalling $200,000? Here's another hint. It wasn't National!!
Is this more hypocricy from Labour, was it merely a lack of common sense by the Electoral Commission is releasing this information to the public, or is the government merely confused?
But as so often happens, all is not as it seems. On his blog The Briefing Room, Wishart reveals the following:
"A Press Council ruling partially upholding a complaint by Air New Zealand against Investigate has been released today, which is somewhat surprising given that Investigate had been invited to place further evidence in front of the Press Council for a review next Monday.
The council ruled that Investigate had erred by calling the flights "secret", and that our cover montage of an Air New Zealand jet beside a military plane with a soldier nearby was also misleading.
Given that the issue has gone public prior to the review, Investigate has no choice but to release its submission to the Press Council below:"So here it is: http://www.thebriefingroom.com/archives/2008/04/investigate_res.html
The Press Council's response will be awaited with interest!
Protest spokesman Manu Caddie told Newstalk ZB "they are concerned that the base is being used to help the US war on terror. He says the protestors were "following through on the gospel and being faithful to that when it comes to peacemaking".
Mr Caddie says the protestors decided to act after reading a book by Nicky Hager."
Nicky Hager dodged a bullet over the stolen Brash e-mails - will he be so lucky this time?
In short: National 52.1% (up 2); Labour 37.2% (down 2.1)
Key 48%; Clark 45%
Taken in isolation, this would be unsettling for Labour. But add in the Roy Morgan, One News, 3News and Fairfax polls, and surely Labour will be very worried. So let's look at the big picture. Remember, this period started with Labour on a roll, and Key stumbling a little, and ended with Labour's president being exposed as a liar, and the economy going south. Here's what all the polls are saying for April:
One News: National 54%; Labour 35%
3News: National 48%; Labour 38%
Roy Morgan: National 50%; Labour 35.5%
Fairfax: National 52%; Labour 34%
NZ Herald National 52.1%; Labour 37.2%
AVERAGES: National 51.2%; Labour 35.9% - Average difference 13.1 points
The Greens are the only others to be featuring above the 5% threshhold. However, as an increasing body of scientific evidence debunks global warming, and food prices push through the roof as a consequence of the mad rush towards biofuels (the credibility and viability of which are now under attack), they may struggle to stay there, and for the first time in five elections, we may avoid another farcical MMP outcome where the tail wags the dog.
In the meantime, if Labour isn't doing some serious soul-searching, it ought to be. Denigrating John Key is not working; if anything, it will do nothing more than grow the perception that the Labour Party is out of touch with the realities facing "ordinary" New Zealanders on a daily basis.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Craig notes that the Minister would far rather this hearing had been held in Wellington, and after the election. However there's no such luck for the Minister, and those for whom he is taking the fall. A full and frank airing of dirty linen will be the very last thing that the government would want as the election campaign kicks into life. And Stuart Nash, Labour's Napier candidate, having ousted Russell Fairbrother will be asking himself why he bothered!
UPDATE: A bit of a cock-up there. PDM has corrected me - Russell Fairbrother saw off Stuart Nash for the Napier nomination for Labour.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The Unions got wind of an arms shipment to Mugabe and his rotten-to-the-core cronies being off-loaded in Durban, with the approval of the South African government. Instead of blindly following the mealy-mouthed government line, the workers refused to unload the ship, and the drivers' union quickly followed suit, refusing to transport the cargo to Zimbabwe, which is of course land-locked. When the ship headed to other southern African ports, it got the same message. End result - 3 million rounds of AK47 ammo and 69 rocket-propelled grenades, as well as mortar bombs and tubes are on their way back to China.
So well done! It's not often that I commend a trade union, but these guys deserve a wrap. If only Thabo Mbeke and his mates in the South African government had the guts to stand up to Mugabe..........
What about a company like Vector, which owns the Wellington power network. Now I would have thought that the power network to New Zealand's capital city, to the seat of power literally, would be reasonably strategic - maybe even quite important! But no, Vector has today announced the sale of the Wellington Network to Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI), a Chinese company - http://www.stuff.co.nz/4500180a10.html
This sale will go ahead subject to approval from Vector shareholders and the Overseas Investment Office. But does anyone else smell more than a whiff of hypocricy from the government and its pet poodle after they've cost AIA investors a cool $1.7billion?
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Far from disagreeing with its perennial enemy, the National "Rich Pricks'" Party, the EPMU agrees that National's fibre-to-the-door plan is a good move, the EPMU agrees with National that tax cuts should have happened already, the EPMU agrees with National's aspiration to lower the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia.
At the start of the week Andrew Little was being talked about as the next President of the Labour Party. Today he is sending a strong message to the Labour Party. Can we therefore assume that when the EPMU is allowed to register as a third party under the EFA, its $120k might not necessarily be spent promoting the Labour Party?
"Auckland airport investors may have strong grounds to take a class action suit against the Government for the losses they suffered through Finance Minister Michael Cullen's intervention in the Canadian Pension Plan's partial bid.
It has now been revealed that Treasury strongly recommended against Government intervention to stop the Canadian fund's partial bid for Auckland Airport - a bid that if it had proceeded would have put a total of $1.72 billion into the pockets of shareholders.
Cullen initially asked Treasury to come up with legislation to constrain foreign ownership in the airport to 20 per cent for an individual shareholder (the Mounties had succeeded in their bid for 40 per cent) and impose other conditions.
But what has generally escaped notice is that Treasury also drew Cullen's attention to a potential liability in Auckland Airport shareholders' eyes - for the on-paper losses they would suffer if the Canadian bid was quashed by Government intervention."
$1.72 billion!! Sheeee-ittt! I'd be suing as well if Cullen's quest for power "whatever it takes" had hit me in the pocket as it has for all those small investors who were happy to sell. And Cullen was specifically advised of the government's potential liability, but pressed on regardless. But wait, it gets worse:
"But the crucial factor as far as the NZX is concerned is that Treasury also noted the Auckland Airport share price was likely to drop immediately following an announcement and existing shareholders were likely to see the Government as responsible for the immediate loss in value of their shares and as such, "potentially liable for the full difference between the new share price and the full value of the CPPIB offer".
Instead of legislation, Treasury suggested amending overseas investment regulations which would present New Zealand with less risk of being in breach of bilateral and multi-lateral obligations.
Shareholders now know Cullen never had any intention of allowing the Canadian bid to go through.
It is arguable that another reason Cullen opted for the fallback option was to try to prevent shareholders from seeking redress."
So Cullen not only was AWARE of potential liability for investors's losses - he acted in such a way as to shut off options for redress! And we are expected to trust him to deliver tax cuts. Sorry Slippery Mikey, but trust has to be earned, and you have got a loooooooooong way to go!!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Here's the whole deal, with no additional commentary required:
" Editorial: The phone is off the hook
In the immortal words of former prime minister Mike Moore "the phone is off the hook", The Dominion Post writes.
Today's Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll showing Labour 18 percentage points behind National confirms what other polls have been suggesting. The electorate has stopped listening to an arrogant government.
It is not a government that has torn itself apart like the last Labour government or been irreparably damaged by its association with unprincipled party-hoppers as Jenny Shipley's government was in 1999.
In a testament to the political skills of Prime Minister Helen Clark and her deputy Michael Cullen, Labour MPs have kept their differences to themselves and presented a united front to the public.
But Labour's preoccupations - income redistribution, what's on sale at school tuckshops, smacking and electoral laws - are not the concerns of tradespeople weighing the benefits of a higher income in Australia against the loss of access to New Zealand's family-friendly environment, young couples who can see nothing but a lifetime of debt ahead of them when they contemplate the dream of home ownership, and patients who can't have operations because of a shortage of specialists or because junior doctors and hospitals are acting out a ridiculous pantomime.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than by the time and effort Labour has wasted on the Electoral Finance Act. It has turned an easily solvable problem, the Exclusive Brethren's underhand attempt to secretly help National during the last campaign, into a never-ending saga by trying to use the Brethren campaign as an excuse to stymie other critics and to increase the advantage of incumbency by allowing sitting MPs to spend parliamentary funds on their campaigns. But it has done such a bad job that no one, not even the minister in charge of the legislation, now knows what MPs can legally do.
Dr Cullen will next month attempt to outmanoeuvre National by announcing tax cuts in the Budget but Labour will not win any kudos for finally delivering cuts that, but for Dr Cullen's reluctance to loosen his grip on taxpayers' money, would have been delivered three years ago.
And, in the meantime, the party is losing ground every time one of its ministers bridles at a legitimate question, every time its president fudges the truth and every time it allows its antipathy toward those who hold a different world view to show.
Last week Dr Cullen advised National leader John Key that the election was "a contest about power in New Zealand and about who can be the best government for New Zealanders".
He was right about the second thing but wrong about the first. The election is not about who gets the spoils of victory, but about what is best for New Zealand.
Labour has been the beneficiary of an extraordinary economic summer that has stretched almost nine years. It has used the bounty to improve the lot of low-income families, but done little to convince talented young New Zealanders their future is here rather than overseas. If it wants voters to put the phone back on the hook it needs to show some humility and it needs to focus on voters' concerns rather than its own."
On economic management, just 33% of those polled trust Labour against 46% for National. But most alarming in the finding that one in ten New Zealanders are considering a move across the Tasman. If that's not ringing alarm bells in the corridors of power, it should be!
So that's four polls out in the last week, all of which have Labour at levels of support below 40%, from a high of 38% on the 3News poll to a low of 34% with Fairfax. That suggests to me that Labour has alienated roughly two-thirds of the electorate, and as the so-called "winter of discontent" kicks in with food and fuel prices rampant and the threat of power shortages looming, it's hard to see how Labour can turn this trend around. Methinks they wwill need far more than just attacks on John Key and systemic rorts of the EFA!
Friday, April 25, 2008
Willie Apiata and his fellow soldiers from the NZSAS are true modern-day heroes. As ANZAC Day draws to a close, and we remember the sacrifice of so many young New Zealanders, it is reassuring to see the courage and professionalism of these men. Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui.
Full marks to the enterprising officers who not only had the nous to use the crim's phone to nab his mate, but also the foresight to respond in the appropriate language that is txt! It's a fair cop guv'nor!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I was especially touched by his conclusion:
"So sometime tomorrow morning I will pick up my Anzac stone and give it a rub, and in my mind's eye return to the hills of Gallipoli.
I will recall the deep sense of kinship I felt for that place and reread the words of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, who cleverly led the Turkish defence at Gallipoli and later became president, which are inscribed on a memorial at Anzac Cove.
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now in our bosom and are at peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."
I'm one of the fortunate ones. My grandfather was a Gallipoli veteran, my father a veteran of campaigns in North Africa and Greece during WWII, and my eldest brother fought briefly in Vietnam. By accident of birth and timing, I have escaped the horror of war. And I pray fervently that my children and theirs will have similar luck to me. In the meantime, lest we forget....
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
Laurence Binyon - For the Fallen
I suspect that there will be some grim faces in the Labour hierarchy today. Sure, Labour is up one point to 35.5%, but National has recovered most of the ground they lost in the last poll, to rise by three points to 50%. Labour's strategy to attack John Key, and the repeated airing of "that" video from the Labour Party election congress is clearly not resounding with the electorate.
And it gets worse. The poll was taken in the week leading up to Sunday 20 April, so it won't have included Mike Williams being exposed as a liar, it won't have included Helen Clark's "he's just confused" justification, it won't have included Michael Cullen backing down on tax cuts before the election, and it won't have excluded any fallout for Clark and Labour from the release of Absolute Power - the Helen Clark Years.
And lastly, perhaps the most significant of all. The latest Roy Morgan poll will not have registered the almost unanimous support for John Key's proposal for a National government to invest $1.5billion in fibre-to-the-door by way of public-private partnerships. Even the EPMU has said that National's proposal is "a step in the right direction". In contrast, David Cunliffe's opposition, on behalf of the governnment looks churlish, and it is no surprise that NZ First has also opposed this initiative.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
"Telecom and the business sector are praising National's plan to put $1.5 billion into ultra-fast broadband access but the Government says it would be a huge waste of taxpayer money."
Here's the story, courtesy of the NZ Herald: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10505730&pnum=0
Support from business leaders for proposed public-private partnerships is overwhelming:
"Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds welcomed the "substantial public funds" National would put into extending fibre-based services.
"We have consistently said that public/private partnerships have a big role to play," he said.
Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said a public/private partnership was the logical way to spread the cost of a huge undertaking."
Then David Cunliffe enters the scene:
"But Communications Minister David Cunliffe saw nothing but problems and trouble.
"It's back to the future...if this extravagant subsidy is ever rolled out all the good work the Government, industry and business have done in dismantling Telecom's monopoly position will be lost," he said."
It would be tempting to address a one-word comment to David "Boy Wonder" Cunliffe, but let's leave "diddums" for the PM's exclusive use! Perhaps he's miffed that he didn't think of it first, or maybe he realises that when even the EPMU gives National's plan an endorsement, the opposition benches are beckoning.
Let's reflect on these words:
"It's now emerging just how strongly Treasury supported the Canadian bid to buy a stake in Auckland International Airport.
The Government's moves to block the sale were strongly opposed by Treasury who said it would breach international agreements, scare foreign investors and damage the economy.
Papers released today show that Finance Minister Michael Cullen initially considered rushing specific legislation through Parliament to restrict foreign ownership of AIA."
Here's the grounds that Treasury advanced to Cullen to support their argument:
"Treasury wrote a scathing paper on the suggestions, saying the benefits of the Government's proposed policy were "likely to be small relative to the detriments".
It advised against any intervention in the share bid on three main grounds:
* Legal - "It is almost certainly a breach of our international obligations under various multilateral agreements".
* Commercial - "Such an intervention would create considerable disruption and uncertainty. By affecting investors' property rights and reducing value it may cause investors to be sceptical ... and more wary of investing".
* Economic - "It is likely negatively impact on international investors perceptions ... increase the risk premium for investment in New Zealand with potential to raise the cost of funds for all New Zealand companies"."
Cullen, as we now know, rejected this advice, and "told ministers to change the regulations.
Papers show the changes were made the same day and later used to block the Canadians' bid for the airport".
So, Cullen rejected the advice of both the Overseas Investment Office and Treasury. And yet he has been only too happy to accept Treasury's advice that tax cuts were unsustainable. Methinks the good Doctor scores highly in the hypocricy stakes.
Under the headline "Grey Power won't bend on electoral finance law" we read that:
"Grey Power has rejected a New Zealand First member's bid to stop it challenging the controversial electoral finance legislation in court.
The older persons' lobby group has joined the Sensible Sentencing Trust and Electoral Finance Act opponent John Boscawen in a High Court challenge made against the new law when it was in its "draconian" bill form.
New Zealand First supported the law change, which limits third party spending on election advertising.
At Grey Power's national meeting in Christchurch this week, the federation's involvement in the court action was tested by one of its own.
Jens Meder, a senior New Zealand First member and representative for the Auckland Grey Power Association, put forward a remit arguing it was wrong for the national federation to be a party to the court action.
His remit was "almost unanimously" rejected, said Grey Power federation secretary Bill Atkinson."
Can Winston survive without the support of Grey Power? No. Did Winston Peters make a tactical and political bungle by supporting the EFA? Darn right he did! And how ironic that the constituency that has kept Winston Peters on a pedestal (and enjoying the Baubles of Office) since 1993 will give him the archer this year!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Media release: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0804/S00522.htm
This is very welcome news, especially for those of us who choose to live and do business outside the main centres. The service my wife and I own and manage covers the lower two-thirds of the North Island, and is heavily reliant on internet communications. I strongly support John Key when he says:
"Our small size and our distance from other countries make it hard for us to compete with the rest of the world. Ultra-fast broadband will help us overcome both of those things.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the government had the vision to build railways and highways to facilitate the movement of goods. Today, we need government to help lay out the information highways of the future.
New Zealand has already fallen behind our global competitors when it comes to Broadband. We’ve delayed the big decisions and put investment off for long enough. Every year that goes by with us languishing behind other countries is another year of missed opportunities.
The current government is not ambitious enough for broadband in New Zealand.
Labour thinks fibre-to-the-home in the short to medium term is “simply too challenging”. National doesn’t.
We will do what it takes to ensure New Zealand has the competitive edge needed to prosper in the world of the future. "
This was an excellent speech from Key, not just for the Broadband announcement. He seems to be staking out National's strategy to distinguish itself strongly from Labour - here's an example (my emphasis added), but the full speech is well worth a read:
"More recently, Labour has been distracted by issues like how parents should discipline their children and what sort of food should be served in school tuck shops. Or, worse still, dreaming up electioneering rorts, which have nothing to do with securing New Zealand’s future, and are only about the Labour Party’s future.
Michael Cullen said last week that this year’s election was “a contest about power in New Zealand”. I have news for him. It’s not. It’s a contest about who can address the important economic issues in front of New Zealand and create a more prosperous future for New Zealanders.
We need a government that is resolutely focused on strengthening our economy and delivering better wages and living conditions to New Zealanders.
To deliver those things, we can’t simply do what we’ve always done. The world is getting more and more competitive every year. So, just like any other country, New Zealand needs to focus its efforts on the things that will really make a difference to our earning power.
Tinkering around the edges won’t be good enough. New Zealand needs a step change. "
A step change indeed, and a complete break from the policies of Helen Clark's Labour government.
First-up it was the infamous "chewing gum" tax cuts which we were due to receive on 1 April this year. Now it seems as though Cullen's will has prevailed, and that he will not have to preside over the introduction of personal income tax cuts during his nine year stint as Finance Minister, despite being cash-rich for much of that time. Which is, of course, another reason why the Labour government must be routed in November this year.
Monday, April 21, 2008
So who is Martin Ward? Is a he a rank and file member of the party? Is he from one of Labour's affiliate unions? Is he a candidate? No, no and no!! Martin Ward is a member of Labour's Ruling Council, where he sits alongside Mike Williams. So when Williams said "That's a damn good idea", it wasn't a random thought from an anonymous party member down the back of the hall that he was responding to, it was a bona-fide suggestion from one of Labour's insiders.
But wait; there's more! Martin Ward is married to the Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister of Social Development and Employment among other things, whose Ministry administers Working for Families, one of the policies Ward called for pamphlet drops on! I'd suggest that there might have been some pillow-talk involved, but it's meal time!
Reproduced by permission
That's right. Madeleine Setchell. Erin Leigh. Names the government would prefer you to forget in the run-up to the election. The Setchell affair cost David Benson-Pope his ministerial warrant, and ultimately his place in Parliament. And Erin Leigh was disgracefully attacked by Trevor Mallard, serial bully, under the cover of parliamentary privilege. But even in Leigh's case, Helen Clark's closest and most trusted lieutenant was pulling the strings....
"Prime Minister Helen Clark says she hasn't given a moment's thought to a biography about her written by a man she once called a creep.
Miss Clark was asked on TV One's Breakfast programme this morning how she felt about Absolute Power: The Helen Clark Years written by Ian Wishart.
"I haven't given it a moment's thought," she said.
Wishart's book was marketed in his Investigate magazine as "the most explosive political biography ever released in New Zealand".
It was to look into Labour's "looming leadership crisis".
At the weekend a claim in the book that Police Commissioner Howard Broad "pulled rank" to get out of a breath-test in 1992 was released. However, it was dismissed by the State Services Commission which said it looked into the claim.
"I know there was a bit of hawking around of stuff that had nothing to do with me at all at the weekend and that didn't seem to go anywhere," Miss Clark said.
"It's all political isn't it? I am in the top job, people are going to have a go, that's all you can put it down to.""
Yeah, yeah, we believe you Helen, Just like we believe Mike Williams was confused.
But then again, what else should we have expected? And why is Helen Clark calling the shots over Mike Williams? I thought she was the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which is a wing of the Labour Party per se. Surely Williams is under the control (or lack of control) of the ruling body of the Labour Party. Or does Helen Clark hold Absolute Power in the Labour Party as well?
PS - speaking of Absolute Power, I hear from my sources that book shops are ALREADY doing a booming trade today. Helen Clark's hypocricy is under attack on many fronts, and the Williams saga just confirms the impression of a moribund government clinging to power.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Whilst Rob Pope's ALLEGED lady friend is taking legal advice, to be honest, I can't remember many successful defamation claims against Wishart. Maybe the collective talents that comprise the MSM would do better to sit in front of their mirrors and ask themselves "How does he get all the stories?", then challenge themselves to dig a little deeper - instead of endearing themselves to the left by running puff pieces about John Key's property transactions:
UPDATE - Wishart's response - Go ahead - sue me!
Does that sound like a man who isn't confident in the integrity of his sources?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
OK - that's that out of the way. Let me just say that Ian Wishart has made a major power-play in the 2008 election campaign. Absolute Power - the Helen Clark Years claims to "go further than anyone has gone before - digging up a Prime Minister you didn't even know existed.". And over 19 chapters, Wishart revisits a host of scandals, abuses of power and messy dealings that have characterised the 8 1/2 years that Helen Clark's government has been in power. Many of the scandals are already well known to us, but Wishart's sources, and his skills as an investigative journalist provide a fresh perspective, and a greater depth of information than what is possible in a magazine article.
Wishart contends that Clark's passge to the "dark side" began literally from the moment she was elected as PM in 1999 as he explores her role in the sacking of Police Commissioner Peter Doone. In the next chapter he raises serious questions about the fitness for office of current Commissioner Howard Broad and his 2IC Rob Pope. Wishart maintains that Clark and King approved the appointments, despite knowledge of the accusations against each.
The sheer bulk of the allegations that Wishart makes against Clark is troubling. Each of them, while significant, could be "toughed out". But presented in their totality as Wishart has, they are damning, and raise significant concerns about Clark's agenda, her integrity, and her suitability to lead the country. Coming six months before an election, the allegations are bound to play a role in this year's election campaign.
Wishart's past writings, and his perceived anti-Labour bias are bound to be raised by critics of Absolute Power. However, as I have noted elsewhere on the blogosphere, these critics are likely to be the same people who have lauded Nicky Hager for The Hollow Men. The best comparison that I can make is this - Wishart's book is based on substantiated evidence; Hager's book relied on information illegally and dishonestly obtained
But that's just my opinion. Buy this book, read it with an open mind, and make your own judgement on Helen Clark when you vote in November.
Commentary will follow, but right now, I'm about to read the introduction - "The Prime Minister has no recollection of the pot"
UPDATE: 4pm - Sheesh - this book is right up to date! Page 301 talks about Lockwood Smith & Maurice Williamson being vilified as "climate change unbelievers". I'm kind of flicking through, but already there are some serious questions for Annette King and Chris Carter to answer, and an inescapable conclusion that a change of government will lead to changes in the Police heirachy - Howard Broad and Rob Pope should already be dusting off their respective CV's.
Of particular significance, in the context of O'Sullivan's article is the chorus:
"Chorus (sung by Fisher & Paykel choir):
"You've got to know not to trust them, not to believe them, know what they tell you, won't be the truth,
"We can't let them run the country, cos they're just not able ... "."
O'Sullivan slams Labour for it's lack of focus on the rapidly increasing cost of living, while the party remains focused on ridiculing John Key. I suspect that many in the party are questioning the strategy of demonising Key while the economy implodes, the modern-day equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. She also majors on food security:
"The issue of food security is a major. Inflation is biting farmers worldwide. Farm wages are up, fertiliser and diesel prices are escalating, as are insecticides and farm equipment.
Rice prices have doubled. The global wheat supply is down to just one month, and the steady conversion of prime farm land for growing expensive biofuel crops completes the vicious circle. The Government maintains this is great news as New Zealand's prime dairy exporter, Fonterra, will get much more for its food commodity products. But the Fonterra payouts do not trickle down evenly to swell the pockets of all New Zealanders.
Fonterra does not offer a domestic price for its products. New Zealanders pay the global price for its dairy products."
These are worrying times. New Zealand deserves better leadership than Helen Clark, Michael Cullen & co are providing at the moment. Off-key parodies, personal insults and snide remarks are not what we want or expect from our leaders. As Michael Cullen admitted this week, Labour's attacks on Key have nothing to do with leadership, policy and economic stewardship. So let's remember what Cullen said:
"This is a contest about power in New Zealand"
Which will be in the forefront of our minds when we read "Absolute Power" on Monday!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Hat-tip: No Minister
Thursday, April 17, 2008
But Nicky Hager isn't the only person to have written a book recently. So has Ian Wishart, investigative journalist, and editor of Investigate Magazine. And his latest book, Absolute Power, will hit the bookstands on Monday. Keeping Stock has been privileged to have a sneak peak, and with the police decision to close the Brash inquiry, it seems appropriate to have a look at the relationship between the Police and the Labour government. If you'd ever wondered why the Police seem to prosecute National MP’s, never prosecute Labour MP’s and can’t catch a thief, the Chapter 3 is the place to look!
Reprinted with permission
Now why, I wonder, would the Minister be so tardy about answering OIA requests what should be some fairly straightforward information about his correspondence, diary notes and documents concerning Baygate? Could it be that said correspondence, diary notes and documents contain information that the Minister would prefer was withheld from scrutiny? Could there be a cover-up going on? Surely not! Of course, if the Minister was to just respond to Craig Foss's OIA, we would all be so much the wiser. But, dear readers, do you really think that's about to happen?
So at least we know. It's official, from her very own "authorised" biography.
'The one thing I hate is the National Party. I think they're loathsome people. I do.'
Goodness me! What will she say when she reads Ian Wishart's UNAUTHORISED biography Absolute Power when it hits the shelves on Monday?
Hat-tip: No Minister
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
To quote Adam:
"Most political leaders become mentally or physically incapable of sound judgment and lose their grip on reality, argues David Owen in a new book."
Can you think of anyone in New Zealand politics who fits that bill?
Hat-tip: Adam Smith - The Inquiring Mind
Would we have expected any other outcome? The only thing that the Police have made a concrete finding on is that the e-mails were stolen. Nicky Hager, author of The Hollow Men has refused to disclose to the Police the source of the 475 e-mails upon which he constructed his book. Surely, this raises a prima-facie case of receiving stolen property against Hager. If so, when are the Police going to charge Hager with this serious offence, punishable by a term of up to seven years imprsionment? Probably, I would guess, around the same time they charge Labour Party activist Len Richards with assault. That will not be any time soon, as I gather that on Monday next week, the top brass of the New Zealand Police might just have more pressing matters on their hands.
"Hon Bill English: Was the Minister or any other Labour Minister present at the workshop session where the Labour Party discussed using Government department pamphlets; if any Ministers were there, why did they not tell the Labour Party that it was not allowed to do it?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Because people were at the Labour Party conference as members of the Labour Party. Also, what was said is not what was reported in the newspapers."
Hmmmm - several points emerge here. Why did Annette King not confirm or deny that she was at the workshop session. Surely, she either was, or she wasn't. Well, the truth is, we know that she was indeed present, at least in body! This from today's NZ Herald:
So, having established that she was indeed there at the time, as was Phil Goff, why did she not intervene to tell the delegates that their plan wasn't a goer? After all, Annette King IS the Minister of Common-Sense when it comesto the EFA. Could it be that the real reason was that everyone in Labour, Cabinet Ministers included actually thought that the Pamphlet Plan was a GREAT idea, until they were sprung? Surely not?
Oh dear, The EFA, Baygate, and now this. Life doesn't get any easier for Annette King does it?
Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui - arohanui.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"John Key: Is—
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The MP for King’s College.
John Key: Well, the member is the one who went to a private school. I am just trying to help him out. We are here to help. Vote National, and Government members will be able to sing karaoke any time they like, I am sure! Is any Minister in her Government—any one of them—spending any time worrying about the economy and things that matter to New Zealanders, or are they just a bit too busy engaging in low-grade personal attacks on me?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I think there is probably a one-word response to that question: “diddums”.Diddums. A word that speaks volumes about the battles ahead, as Labour declares war on John Key. But sometimes words come back to haunt people. When Helen Clark and her lackeys bleat and moan after the release of Ian Wishart's book "Absolute Power" on Monday about the unfairness of it all, there will be many, many New Zealanders who will reflect on the ironies of life, when they say, "Diddums"!
"...his party harboured serious doubts about National because of its past dealings with the party.
In his speech, Mr Peters recalled the acrimonious 1998 breakdown of the National/NZ First coalition under former prime minister Jenny Shipley.
He said NZ First wanted to know where National, now led by John Key, stood on all the main issues, long before this year's election.
Before NZ First did any post-election deal with National, his party would insist that every MP in the National caucus sign up to whatever agreement was reached."
I repeat - Who does Winston Peters think he is? Rather than the tail (or poodle) wagging the dog after the election, I am hoping that Winston's tail is firmly between his legs as he considers his career options outside politics.
Meanwhile, I liked John Key's response:
"Mr Key was terse in his response to Mr Peters' ultimatum.
"I will manage my MPs without any help from Mr Peters, thanks very much," he said."
Hat-tip: The Hive
Clark was not initially known for her tolerance when those around her stuffed up, but during this term, the phrase "It's not a hanging offence" has become the Labour lexicon. Clark herself explains her tolerance towards her President's "poor judgement":
"Asked if Mr Williams had become a liability, she said: "He is one of my oldest friends and a very diligent worker for the party, but he doesn't always get things right.""
Clark will try and deflect all the responsibility for Labour's attempted rort on Williams. But we all know that she, not he, is the power behind the Red Team.
Monday, April 14, 2008
If Labour's brightest and best think that their best hope of securing a fourth term of office is to put up this kind of crap, they are even further out of touch than we imagined them to be! Roll on November!!!
Labour hates big money. Labour thinks big money steals elections. Labour is jealous of National's ability to raise big money. So what does Labour do? It goes to the biggest source of big money of all - the taxpayer - to fund its election campaign. Read this:
"The Labour Party is planning to use the resources of Government departments to campaign this year on its flagship policies, confidential strategy notes from the weekend Labour Congress in Wellington show.
In a private session on the election strategy, run by president Mike Williams, delegates were advised to distribute pamphlets on KiwiSaver produced by the Inland Revenue Department and on Working for Families produced by Work and Income.
They were also advised to tell voters when handing out the pamphlets that National voted against both measures.
Distributing Government department material explaining how new policies work is not unlawful.
But such publicity has never before been directly tied to political campaigns, and in the context of the new Electoral Finance Act, the move could be seen as inappropriate use of Government publicity."
Bill English, quite rightly, smells a large and smelly rat:
""It confirms Labour's strategy, which has been to use the Electoral Finance Act to shut the critics up and use the resources of Government to broadcast its message with no competing views.""
Is it any wonder that people use terms like "hypocricy", "morally bankrupt" and "corrupt" when they talk about Helen Clark and Labour. As Lord Acton famously said, Absolute Power corrupts absolutely..............
UPDATE - 3pm - Flip-flop from Helen Clark - from the NZ Herald:
"In a statement, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman said Helen Clark had asked for an explanation from those who attended various conference sessions following the Herald's story this morning.
The spokeswoman said: "She has been advised that the suggestion about using material from government departments was raised from the floor by a delegate.
"She has since instructed that such material is not to be handed out by canvassers, or for campaigning.
"However electorate offices serving MPs across all parties can continue to have the material on display as part of the interface between constituents and government agencies.""
"She has since instructed..." - that says to me that she has changed her mind. Clearly, this policy was never supposed to see the light of day. And even left-leaning bloggers like Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn have criticise the government - I/S referring to "moral bankruptcy" - hmmm - now where have I seen that term today????
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Here's the gist of it:
"Bullshit? Straight-talking Phil Goff found the right phrase when in Beijing he condemned critics of the China Free Trade agreement with that pithy expletive.
In fact the whole row is now submerged in bullshit.
The Foreign Minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters, opposes the FTA, saying he is entitled to do so under the "agree to disagree" provisions in New Zealand First's support agreement with Labour.
He says he is free to criticise it when he is in New Zealand but he has to generally toe the Government's line when he is abroad. That is bullshit.
Thanks to modern media, his words have already flashed around the world. He has been heard and the contents noted by every government on the planet. As usual, Winston Peters is indulging in verbal gymnastics."
There's a whole lot more, and Ralston accuses prettymuch everyone of bullshit, but his strongest criticism is reserved for Peters:
"Peters also seems to feel New Zealand First's taxpayer-funded newspaper advertisements against the FTA are not election year advertising in terms of the Electoral Finance Act. That is bullshit.
The ads are blatant political propaganda in an election year and, as vile as the Electoral Finance Act may be, New Zealand First and the people responsible for placing the ads should be prosecuted by the Electoral Commission for not following the law.
Indeed, the whole attack on the FTA is part of a carefully conceived ploy by a desperate Winston Peters to raise the popularity of the party in an election year.
It is no accident that last week New Zealand First deputy leader Peter Brown came out with his bumbling racist attack on Asian migrants.
It is no accident that Peters should then launch into his crusade against the trade agreement with China.
New Zealand First is so low in the polls it faces oblivion at the next election unless it can rally enough redneck support with its campaign against the Yellow Peril.
My guess is this kind of jingoistic posturing will help push the party over the 5 per cent threshold.
Winston has made his political career out of never over estimating the intelligence of a small but sufficient percentage of voters.
Even Goff's use of the phrase is surrounded by bullshit. Peters claims Goff never used the word and attacked the New Zealand Herald, which first ran the story, demanding an apology.
Goff's office subsequently conceded the minister did use the word but only in general, aimed at criticism of the FTA and not Peters in particular. At the risk of repeating myself, that is bullshit.
Peters is a critic of the FTA therefore it applied to him, and others. By the way, Winston Peters and John Minto agreeing with each other is probably the ultimate absurdity.
If Winston Peters genuinely believes this Government is so severely damaging the New Zealand interests and our economy with this deal, he should resign as Foreign Minister.
If he does not, Clark should fire him because he is so obviously a liability to the course this Government wishes to set with our fourth-biggest trading partner and an emerging world superpower."
Amen to that Bill, amen to that!
Did he not see the Roy Morgan poll? Despite National losing 4 points, Labour only picked up 12.5% - 0.5 points - of National's fall-off. Sorry Matt, but the earth didn't move for me!! And the news on and for Labour isn't likely to improve a lot any time soon - watch this space.......
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The richest irony of all is that the attendees, including Labour MP's and Cabinet Ministers had to leave the building where they were confronted (ambushed might be a better word) by the protesters. What a shock to the system that must have been for those who are used to the protection of an ivory tower! Stuff does not however that Helen Clark was "hurried out a side door", which renders as false any comparisons between Dear Leader and the late Sir Robert Muldoon - I can still vividly remember the Old Tusker coming out swingin' from the Mandalay Ballroom in Auckland in the late 1970's!
Far be it from Keeping Stock to sanction lawbreaking, but a big ups to the protester who hatched the plan to bring Labour face to face with the people they purport to be "listening to"!
One part of the report caught my eye, where Clark commented on the decision to block the sale of Auckland International Airport shares - check this out:
"Prime Minister Helen Clark opened the Labour Party election-year Congress in Wellington last night praising the decision of Cabinet ministers David Parker and Clayton Cosgrove to block the sale of 40 per cent of Auckland Airport to a Canadian pension fund.
She made the comments as she was geeing up delegates to campaign to reach people who shared Labour's values she described as "fairness, opportunity and security for all".
It was a phrase she repeated through the speech.
"We must keep listening to New Zealanders, just as our ministers have over the ownership of Auckland International Airport - a strategic and iconic asset for New Zealand," she said to resounding applause.
Talking to reporters later, she rejected a suggestion that such comments - implying a political motive in the decision - could be grounds for judicial review."
I believe that Helen Clark has more than implied that the decision was made on political grounds; she has confirmed what everyone else knew or suspected. And that, to me, flies in the face of Labour's stated values of "fairness, opportunity and security for all". I am sure that the many AIA shareholders who agreed to the Canadian Pension Plan's offer will agree. And if she really "listens to New Zealanders" as she claims, why did Labour support Sue Bradford's repeal of the S59 defence, or pass the Electoral Finance Act, and why does she not sack Winston Peters?
Friday, April 11, 2008
National down 4 to 47%
Labour up 0.5 to 34%
The Greens, NZ First & the Maori Party all up.
I think Helen will be getting edgy. Even with National losing support, it seems that no-one is prepared to vote Labour. Clark does not seem to get the message - New Zealand's "love affair" with her government is over. With all the 1 April announcements, all the positive spin for Clark, all the attacks on John Key in the House and through the media, right to the eve of the FTA signing when the poll closed, Labour is stuck in the mid-30's.
'Scuse me Helen - are you SURE the EFA was a "beltway issue"?
I can't tell this story any better than Craig himself does, so read on:
"It has been alleged by HBDHB sacking cheerleaders that the former HBDHB members doctored Board minutes. A very serious charge indeed. "Document H" as released and used by the Minister to justify the sacking, is claimed to be the minutes of the HBDHB Audit Committee meeting held on 19th December 2007.
The Minister chose not to release all of the information about these particular minutes. In this case the minute taker, who is also the HBDHB Internal Auditor, took notes, wrote up the draft minutes and sent them to the Audit Committee Chair and CEO for review prior to the draft minutes being sent to the other Audit Committee members.
Then began a series of email exchanges between the minute taker and senior management. Essentially senior management challenged the first draft of the minutes, suggesting they needed to have significant changes made to them. The minute taker, who is also the internal auditor, resisted this and said that the minutes should reflect a balanced record of the proceedings. The minute taker stood his ground, and in the end it was suggested that if management wanted to make significant changes they should raise these concerns at the next Audit Committee meeting when the minutes were to be approved.
Independent to the above, the draft minutes with some changes but nothing major, made by the Audit Committee Chair, were sent to the other members of the Audit Committee and CEO. That should have been the end of the discussion. But, an additional set of minutes, never seen by the Audit Committee Chair, that included changes made by senior management were sent direct to Minister Cunliffe, who then used them as evidence to sack the HBDHB.
The first the HBDHB members knew of these "new" minutes was when they were released as part of the Ministers HBDHB sacking media pack labelled as "Document H".
Hardly fair Mr Sheriff. To be continued..."
Hmmmmm......Ever since this scandal broke, there have been allegations, as yet uninvestigated by anyone able to "get to the bottom" of things, that there was collusion between Board CEO Chris Clark, the Director General of Health, and the Minister, David Cunliffe - you know the guy - "I'm running the show now". This is certainly borne out by Craig Foss's revelation this morning. The role of Chris Clarke, who readers will remember was conveniently absent on "stress leave" when Boy Wonder made his pre-emptive strike must now come under scrutiny, and one would hope that the Auditor General's antennae are buzzing so much that he feels compelled to have a look-see.
There is a building body of evidence that the senior management team was considerably more dysfunctional than the sacked Board. A TRULY independant inquiry, with wide-ranging terms of reference is the only way to find out the truth about Baygate. Unfortunately for David Cunliffe, his predecessor Pete Hodgson and especially Annette King, the truth may just have long-term political consequences.