Monday, June 30, 2008
Of course, that set me thinking, so let's have some fun this winter afternoon and evening - if YOU were sending a message to Helen Clark by text today, what would YOU say? Suggestions may be in txt format, or if like me you hate to see the English language bastardised, real English will be accepted. The only stipulation is the length - 160 characters maximum, including spaces. So put your thinking caps on, and give it your best shot - or should that be giv it ur bst sht?
"If one had to mark a point when this election was gone, then it was actually the middle of last year. Sue Bradford's anti-smacking legislation was not simply the bridge too far.
It was the point of no return. People switched off their lights, hung up the phone and refused to answer their texts. From that moment on, Labour were the walking dead."
Which begs the question - if the Eyelinered One was sending a text to the PM this morning, would it say something like "Sry Hln - Lbr iz dgtckr"?
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I started off with the best of intentions, but I had to concede defeat just after Jake Oram was dismissed around the 45 over mark. Fortunately Sky had the last two hours showing when I awoke this morning, so I was able to enjoy the final moments of the tour before I knew the result - always a bonus!
So let's put the tour in perspective. The performances in the Tests were acceptable, given the lack of experience in the batting. Everyone was predicting a three-nil hiding, but with a bit of luck, the series could have ended at 1-all.
The 20-20 match was disappointing, and the Black Caps were well beaten in the first one-dayer at Durham. From then on, things improved markedly - the match at Edgbaston should have been a New Zealand win, and the tour finished on a positive note with three consecutive victories.
Player-wise, Tim Southee has emerged as a player of huge potential. At 19 years 200 days, he will serve New Zealand cricket for many years to come. The batting is still a worry, especially in test cricket, and I hope that Jamie How is given a decent run at the top of the innings - he seems our best prospect for that role. The loss of Stephen Fleming was keenly felt on this tour.
So, no more interrupted nights for a while - until the All Blacks visit South Africa!
"THESE ARE the last days of the government.
We know this like we know that night follows day, that spring follows winter and that British tabloids follow girls called Angel Barbie. We know all these things because they are immutable laws of nature.
And because we've been here before. We knew that Mike Moore was about to be run over by the tractor that was Jim Bolger in 1990. We knew that Jenny Shipley was about to be mown down by a sharp, image-tweaked Helen Clark in 1999. This coming election is on the same scale. It is not if John Key wins, so much as the nature of his vehicle.
At such times, and despite all the polls, most outgoing governments do not meekly accept their fate. Their impending banishment to opposition is too dread a step to contemplate. Similarly all those vacant seats in the caucus room. Not to mention the run on caucus funds as the whips purchase all available silver-plated trays for the dead and the vanquished.
Instead governments fight and delude in equal proportion. They get both nasty and narcotic - going for the goolies while refusing to admit their mortality. They resemble nothing quite so much as zombies on P. Stumbling towards their fate with no shortage of flailing.
This past week the outgoing prime minister attested to her disbelief in the polls. This after a decade of attesting the opposite. She would not admit that her government had a public credibility problem, thus accentuating the public impression that there is a vast chasm between cabinet and everybody else.
If one had to mark a point when this election was gone, then it was actually the middle of last year. Sue Bradford's anti-smacking legislation was not simply the bridge too far. It was the point of no return. People switched off their lights, hung up the phone and refused to answer their texts. From that moment on, Labour were the walking dead."
There's a whole lot more from Laws as he delivers some advice to John Key, runs the ruler over some of Labour's "Class of '08", and notes the change of mood in the Press Gallery. But for me, the closing statement is the money line:
"Ultimately though, the electorate has had enough. We want change. And we're starting to be resentful that we must wait until November. Which is why Labour's defeat will become such a debilitating debacle. And why we may well get an FPP government under an MMP electoral system."
Now Craig Foss is also a blogger. I suspect that his blog is going to become a must-read over the next few months as he slices and dices the Health Minister. Cunliffe will be wishing that he never heard of the Hawke's Bay, much less that he has a date with the High Court there in August. In the meantime, the role of MP for Tukituki would seem to be Foss's for perpetuity!!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
"Banners on a house in Tauranga promoting New Zealand First did not display promoter statements. The offence will be reported to the Police."
Many thanks to the reader who e-mailed this to Keeping Stock!
"Helen Clark's Government is at a critical crossroads on climate change.
It can rush blindly ahead and enact legislation that will give rise to the biggest economic restructuring in a generation, with huge negative consequences for smaller Kiwi companies and workers in the medium term.
Or it can reach across Parliament and seek to forge a genuine multi-partisan consensus in the knowledge that Labour's chances to milk global warming as an election issue will be stymied.
National's John Key could use his vaunted street smarts to call Clark and offer to remove climate change from the election agenda so the two major parties can work together to forge legislation.
But with an election a mere five months away, both leaders are likely to play to their narrow political interests rather than putting the country first."
Well worth a read on a wintry morning - now, whatever happened to global warming????
With each week that passes, the election draws nearer. There is too much at stake for New Zealand for this legislation to be rushed through, a la the Electoral Finance Act. We repeat our call for the ETS Bill to be parked until after the election to allow the incoming government to try and achieve concensus in a less politically-charged environment.
Hat-tip: The Hive
"Labour's support in Auckland has dropped dramatically in the Herald's latest DigiPoll survey after a month in which violence in South Auckland and soaring petrol prices dominated the public's attention.
The June Herald-DigiPoll shows Labour's support in Auckland has dropped to 28.2 per cent - 10 points down from last month when it was sitting on 38 per cent support.
It is also well behind National, which 58 per cent of decided voters in Auckland supported."
Whilst Clark can take a little comfort in having closed the gap on John Key as preferred PM, this poll is another savage blow to Labour - that's four polls in a week where Labour has received less than one-third support from New Zealanders - such results are hardly "rogue" anymore!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Which New Zealand union was investigated by the police after the 2005 election over electoral advertising irregularities? The police became involved following a complaint from the Chief Electoral Officer.
Which New Zealand union received a warning for their illegal activities, even though the the police found "there appear to be sufficient grounds on which to base a charge"?
Which New Zealand union is likely to be the subject of a complaint to the Electoral Commission over website breaches of the Electoral Finance Act, and will past breaches and warnings by the police be taken into account?
So welcome to the Friday Forum - the floor is yours...
And so it seems for Labour just at the moment. Crisis follows cirsis, mistake follows mistake and PR shambles follows PR shambles, such as that over John Key's supposed lack of knowledge of New Zealand history. The Herald reports:
"Labour's attempt to paint National leader John Key as unworthy of being Prime Minister because of his comments about colonial history have backfired after National revealed Michael Cullen made a similar comment three years ago.
Dr Cullen yesterday dismissed John Key as having "a profound misunderstanding of New Zealand history" because of a comment he made in an interview on Treaty settlements with Newstalk ZB.
Mr Key described New Zealand as a "country that came peacefully together", saying it was unique because "we are not a country that has come about through civil war or a lot of fighting internally".
The comments drew derision from Prime Minister Helen Clark and Dr Cullen, who accused Mr Key of "a profound misunderstanding of New Zealand history" for ignoring the Maori Land Wars.
However, National fought back. In Parliament Gerry Brownlee read out part of a Waitangi Day 2005 speech by Dr Cullen referring to "a country with a continuous political tradition unbroken by civil war or revolution for over 150 years - something a bare handful of countries can celebrate".
Mr Brownlee also read from Governor-General Anand Satyanand's speech on Waitangi Day this year which said the Treaty was signed with "no shots fired in anger and no occupying armed force or an army waiting to invade" and said there were few other countries "where such monumental change has occurred without a shot being fired".
Mr Brownlee's response seemed to leave Dr Cullen short of an answer. He later said he was referring to the unbroken institution of Parliament."
It's not often that Dr Cullen gets blindsided, which makes yesterday's events even more remarkable. The Standard considered Key's "gaffe" of such national interest that they devoted not one but two threads to it!! It is rumoured that posting there will be light today as "da boyz" chisel the egg from the respective faces!!!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tukituki MP Criag Foss had the honour of grilling Cunners this afternoon. You can read the full transcript here. But this is the "money" question:
"Craig Foss: Can the Minister confirm that documents released under the Official Information Act show that he advised officials in December 2007 that he wished to appoint Sir John Anderson as commissioner at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, which was months before he expressed no confidence in the previous board and issued his ultimatum to the board demanding that it justify its continued position?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: No. All I can say is that my final decision was not made until the afternoon of 27 February. The member is referring to a factual misunderstanding concerning a mistake made by the Ministry of Health in the release of papers, some of which were incomplete. This will be explained in court proceedings, and I can comment no further on it."
Now one thing I didn't pick up on this morning was that these documents were supposed to have been withheld from release to Foss due to the impending legal challenge to Cunliffe's arbitrary decision. Were they mistakenly released, or is someone determined to make a point to Mr "I'm running this show now" Cunliffe? If so, it would do nothing to diminish speculation that Cunliffe is being set up to "take one for the team", in particular, to take the spotlight off Annette King and her husband.
Well, the Black Caps got up for a thrilling last-ball win over the English at the Oval in London last night, and cannot be beaten in the one-day series. But that's not the BIG story of the match - Cricinfo gives the low-down on the controversial runout of all-rounder Grant Elliott.
Here's my take on it. I lay no blame with Ryan Sidebottom; his collision with Elliott was entirely accidental. I lay no blame with the umpires, especially Mark Benson of England, who gave Paul Collingwood the opportunity to withdraw the appeal. Once Collingwood chose not to do that, Benson had no alternative under the Laws of the Game but to send Elliott on his way. I am critical of Collingwood, who, I am sure, would do things differently in the same set of circumstances. But he didn't this morning. For those who wish to compare this with the runout of Muralidharan last year, I believe there is no comparison - Murali made an error of judgement leaving his ground while the ball was alive.
That's not the end of Collingwood's troubles though. Cricinfo also reports that he has been found guilty of a slow over rate violation, and faces a four-ODI ban, this being his second offence It would seem that justice has been done!
This is outrageous, but merely confirms suspicions. The Judicial Review in the High Court in Napier can not come around soon enough.
The Dom-Post also reports:
"Also among the documents was legal advice to Mr Cunliffe from the ministry and the Crown Law Office.
The advice, given on February 19, recommended the minister appoint a new chair and deputy chair as well as a crown monitor.
But Mr Cunliffe chose to sack the whole board - action which the Crown Law Office stated he should take only after consultation with the board.
"If consultation was not undertaken, both the Ministry of Health and the Crown Law Office are of the view that a challenge by way of judicial review proceedings would have a very good chance of succeeding," the advice said.
It added that a "minimum period of at least one week" of consultation was required.
Mr Cunliffe sacked the board after giving it a week to explain itself."
Naturally, it's all a mistake says David "I'm running this show now" Cunliffe:
"Mr Cunliffe told The Dominion Post yesterday that dates on some of the documents were incorrect and this would become clear at a judicial review to be held in August.
"While the possible future of the board was under consideration from mid-February, no decision was made at that time.
"The document is at issue in current litigation and the same explanation will be made to the court."
It seems that there is still plenty of life in this scandal. Which is bad news indeed for Labour's prospects in Hawke's Bay
UPDATE: Q8 on the Order Paper this afternoon:
CRAIG FOSS to the Minister of Health: Does he have confidence in the Hawke's Bay District Health Board; if so, why?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Len Richards - does that name ring a bell? Think back to 3 November 2007, the Labour Party Conference in Auckland, and refresh your memory with TVNZ's compelling video evidence, or read Keeping Stock's first coverage of this ugly incident.
Despite a clear assault taking place right in front of several unif0rmed police officers, no action was taken against Richards at the time, but several protesters were arrested on the day. Keeping Stock is uncertain as to whether Len Richards was charged with any offence arising from this incident. We are not even sure whether he has even been interviewed or investigated, despite a complaint of assault having been made to the police. And Richards himself lied to TV reporters, denying that an assault had taken place despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
So that's Len Richards, member of the New Zealand Labour Party. And where is he now? Well, dear readers, you may be interested to know that Len Richards has just been appointed to the role of Political Coordinator for the Service and Food Workers' Union (SFWU) for the 2008 election. This was announced to the Union's members on P5 of the union's publication Our Voice - sadly, it's not available online. And just today, I've found a column penned by Len Richards on the SFWU website's Vote 08 blog where he tells all about what he's done so far, what the SFWU is telling its members about the current Labour-led govrnment, and what the SFWU members could expect should, shock horror, National get elected. Out of Len Richards's seminars to date, "over 50 volunteers have been recruited to be trained as member organisers to take part in our election campaign, taking our election message out to the members of the SFWU." We wonder if each gets their own megaphone, and whether Len Richards will provide training in its use - and abuse.
We also wondered how Len Richards got this job. Then we remembered that his partner, Jill Ovens is the Auckland secretary of the SFWU. It would appear that nepotism is alive and well in this union. But with all that electoral activity (heck, they've hired someone to coordinate their political activity), has the SFWU got around to registering as a Third Party under the Electoral Finance Act, or is the SFWU having as many problems with the EFA as the rest of the New Zealand Labour Party?
"Unless the Prime Minister is planning to go to the country much earlier than everyone expects, her assertion that it is not possible to hold the anticipated citizens-initiated referendum on the anti-smacking law on election day simply does not stack up.
Helen Clark claims there is not enough time for the referendum to run alongside the general election "just in terms of sheer organisation".
The real reason, of course, is Labour does not want its election campaign sullied by periodic discussion of the smacking law whose "nanny-state" connotations have proved to be so damaging to her and her party. Better to take some flak now for delaying the referendum than see the debate resurrected over the amended section 59 of the Crimes Act which removes the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically discipline their children."
Right. Let's get this straight. Helen Clark's wish to delay a referendum, if the petition passes muster, is solely about damage limitation. Perhaps she should have reflected on this before leaping into bed with Sue Bradford to push this legislation through. Perhaps she realises, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight that this is the single issue which turned the tide against her government. Perhaps she should reflect on the words she spoke prior to the 2005 election in a Radio Rhema interview with Bob McCoskerie, and perhaps she should consider if flip-flops like this one are among the reasons that Readers Digest readers rate politicians as the least trusted profession - here's a reminder:
Helen Clark: A lot of people aren’t comfortable with beatings but they don’t want to see, you know, stressed and harassed parents, you know, pulled in by the police because they, they smacked a child.
Bob McCroskie: So you do not want to see smacking banned?
Helen Clark: Absolutely not, I think you are trying to defy human nature."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Asked by English "Is it Government policy that all political party logos must carry a promoter statement in the regulated period, no matter what the context in which they are used; if so, why?", King ducked, dived, bobbed and weaved with singular lack of success and her credibility took more hits. But check this out, and judge for yourself whether King "addressed the question":
"Hon Bill English: Can the Minister just explain to the public and the House whether the situation is that Labour spent most of this term putting together the Electoral Finance Act, after 2 years of official advice; it spent about 8 months pushing it through Parliament and select committees, and now, 7 months into an election year, it cannot answer one simple question, and that is whether we can legally display a party logo—how bloody ridiculous is that?
Rt Hon Helen Clark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is not my understanding that swear words are permissible in the House, and I would ask that that word be withdrawn.
Madam SPEAKER: In the context of the question, that word was unnecessary and added nothing to the question. Would the member just withdraw it, please.
Hon Bill English: I withdraw.
Hon ANNETTE KING: What I can tell the member is that the National Party has spent 7 months of this year wasting its party finances on disputing every part of the Electoral Finance Act, because it does not like the fact that it cannot spend the war chest that it thought it would be able to spend before the election. National now has to be transparent, it has to be honest, it has to say where its money comes from, and it has to declare whether the money comes from its big backers like the Exclusive Brethren. That is what National does not like."
Question Time has become a farce of late, and the blame lies fairly and squarely at the feet of Margaret Wilson. The latitude that she gives Ministers who fail to address questions, much less answer them reinforces the impression that as Speaker, Ms Wilson is blatantly partisan. Question Time is the one opportunity that opposition parties have to hold Ministers to account in the House; sadly, even that is now being denied them.
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My name is Andrew Cushen, and I am conducting a survey of New Zealand PoliticalBlog Readers. This survey is part of my research toward a Master of Arts in Political Studies at the University of Auckland.
As the reader of a blog that features postings related to political news, discussion and debate in New Zealand politics, I invite you to participate inthis survey. Please follow this link:
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"In bad mouthing the latest batch of opinion polls, the Prime Minister risks looking like someone in serious denial. But it is a risk she obviously feels she has to take.
Helen Clark is usually reluctant to comment on polls as they largely speak for themselves. Moreover, there is nothing to gain politically from trying to put a brave face on bad results.
However, the timing and combined impact of the latest One News-Colmar Brunton, Fairfax and Roy Morgan polls are such bad news for Labour, Clark had to try to undermine their veracity."
It's interesting that the Roy Morgan poll has fallen into line with the Fairfax and One News-commissioned polls. Firstly, it is the only publicly-published poll not commissioned by a news media organisation, therefore it retains a degree of independence. Secondly, the Roy Morgan organisation picked the 2005 NZ election closest, and was also the most reliable poll in the lead-up to the Australian Federal election. Armstrong notes this, and the importance of the 3News poll as he closes:
"Moreover, Clark made no mention of the Roy Morgan poll actually having Labour narrowly ahead of National prior to election day in 2005.
The most accurate poll of all in 2005 was the 3News-TNS poll. The latest TV3 poll had Labour slipping to 35 per cent last month. The Herald-DigiPoll - the only other major published poll - had Labour at just over 36 per cent last month. That poll pointed to a Labour victory in 2005, but overstated the margin.
Should one or both of those two polls start replicating the results of the other three, Clark will have a real problem maintaining a King Canute-like stance to the trend. For the polls may not all be right. But it defies credibility to argue they are all wrong."
Monday, June 23, 2008
Labour - 19% (2006 votes)
National - 70% (7506 votes)
Next comes Winston at 4%, followed by the Greens at 3%
Now I know that this is a completely unscientific poll, but it's certainly a compelling result. It's getting very hard to escape the conclusion that NOTHING Labour does is going to make a blind bit of difference come November.
I fully concur with Adam's assessment that Mugabe is a madman. He claims that God installed him as President of Zimbabwe, and that only God can remove him. At church last night, we asked God to do just that!
In the meantime, I agree entirely with Helen Clark's condemnation of Mugabe's "abhorrent behaviour". However, the time for the international community to stop talking tough, and to impose some serious, meaningful sanctions on Mugabe. In particular, we are looking closely at South African President, Thabo Mbeki whose attitude to Mugabe has, to this point been at best laissez-faire.
Hat-tip: The Inquiring Mind
"Who will deal with the revolting scourge of gangs – wrecking their p-crazed violence and havoc on innocent New Zealanders?
Tauranga is not immune from this scourge. We need a voice of experience and strength.
We need a leader who can look these criminals in the eye and not flinch."
Winston Peters endorses Simon Bridges, Tauranga Crown Prosecutor and National Party candidate for the Tauranga electorate.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
National 55%; Labour 29% - a 26 point lead for National
Meanwhile John Key has increased his lead over Clark to 11 points, 38% to 27%. These are unprecedented figures for an Opposition leader.
And on the day he confirmed his candidacy in Tauranga, the heat goes on Winston Peters - NZ First is down to 3%, and headed for oblivion.
However the TVNZ story tonight made me chuckle - cop this:
"In his speech he likened himself to sporting greats Muhammed Ali and Tiger Woods, who also suffered defeats, but triumphed in the end."
Give us a break Winston! To continue with the boxing analogy, Keeping Stock reckons you're in for a ROCKY campaign, and reckons the wise voters of Tauranga will deliver a knockout blow to NZ First.
UPDATE: Enjoy the 3News coverage of Winston's speech. Speculate over the size and average age of his audience. Wonder, as I did, if the false start with the malfunctioning PA system is a portent for the campaign ahead. And notice, as many other bloggers have, the number of Winston First supporters for whom it was all too much, and for whom power naps were required!
Regular Kiwiblog poster Southern Raider posted a long comment on DPF's blog on Friday, which is fast becoming the stuff of legends - so much so that a blog has been created as a shrine to it! It's not original, having been swiped from the US Presidential election, but if you need a chuckle, you could do far worse!!
My personal fave is this one ...
I’m voting Labour because I enjoy being humiliated and told my beliefs are no longer welcomed in this “enlightened” society
... closely followed by:
I’m voting Labour because Sue Bradford and Cindy Kiro care more about children than their parents do
The top order failed again, sent in to bat on a lively pitch. But some solid batting from Grant Elliott and some big hitting from Kyle Mills gave the Black Caps something to defend. And defend it they did, with an excellent display in the field.
Well done Black Caps. Supporting them is a rollercoaster journey, b ut when they snatch an unlikely win like this one, it's a great feeling. Dan Vettori's celebration after he took the final catch epitomised just how much this win meant to his team.
"There are now more media communications and public relations staff working for the Ministry of Social Development than there are journalists working in individual newsrooms for media organisations across the country.
The MSD apparently employs 61.5 media staff. Quite what the half person does is not clear but the rest appear to be trying to put a positive spin on everything the department does. All appear to be failing spectacularly."
He then turns his angst on the screeds of policy advisers at MSD, before revealing his REAL target:
"Actually, I suspect the 350 policy advisers are too busy with the 61.5 media people working out how to spend your money telling you that they are working hard for you. Last year, the MSD budgeted 15 million taxpayer dollars to promote, for example, the Working for Families scheme this election year. The Government is anxious to remind you that it is looking after you - even if you don't want to be looked after.
With this in mind, the Government last year published, at your expense, a brochure subtly called We're Making a Difference. It is designed to tell you how good the Labour Government has been for you and, not surprisingly, the courts and Electoral Office came to the conclusion it was campaign advertising for the Labour Party under the Government's stunningly stupid Electoral Finance Act.
However, last week the Government started ducking and diving in Parliament about whether the brochure would be counted against Labour's spending cap for the election. Labour Party secretary Mike Smith has been telling the Electoral Office that the breach of the act wasn't committed by the Labour Party, it was committed by the Labour Government, or more precisely, the Prime Minister's Office, which is entirely different, says Mr Smith.
Quite how the Labour Party's Prime Minister and the Labour Government is divorced from the Labour Party is not clear, but members of the Labour Party must be wondering if this is final confirmation of what they have felt for years, the party's parliamentary wing is a law unto itself and no longer has any connection with its rank and file."
That's an interesting point. IF (and it's a big "if", hence the capitals, there is no relationship between the Labour Party and its Parliamentary cousin, the Labour government, why did Labour's President, Mike Williams offer his resignation (more than once!) to Helen Clark? Perhaps kindred blogger Jafapete, who has much more knowledge of matters Labour than I do, may be able to fill this gap in my knowledge!
Meanwhile, Ralston lastly takes a swipe at Annette King:
"Under questioning from National's Bill English, Justice Minister Annette King fudged the issue. Instead, she gave us an insight into the amazing pettiness that drives the Government's thinking behind the Electoral Finance Act. Apparently referring to National's quite effective and often funny billboard campaign before the last election, she dismissed English's questions, instead talking of "the whining and whingeing from the National Party because it cannot spend the millions of dollars that it had planned to spend on its election campaign, right up to three months before the election, pretending that it did not count as election advertising. Its billboards would have been right around New Zealand. National is not able to do that. What we get now is its whingeing and snivelling about it."
What she is saying is that the Government rammed through an act of Parliament, put the Electoral Office to enormous expense, tied up endless amounts of police time investigating alleged breaches of the act, and further troubled the overburdened court system with litigation about the meaning of the act because Labour was worried National might put up billboards attacking the Government this election year."
Labour has created the mess which the Electoral Finance Act has become. It is only fitting that they should be the party having the most trouble complying with their own law.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Tonight sees the second test between the All Blacks and England at Lancaster Park in Christchurch. Whilst most of the media attention this week has been on the English over allegations of sexual assault in Auckland, there has been a fair bit of comment over changes to the winning All Black side.
Personally, I'm not too worried by the changes Henry has made. Whilst it would have been good for Smith and Nonu to have another game together, we have to remember that they are a provincial combination, and should know one another's games inside out. To me, the money combination is that of Carter and Nonu, and that has been preserved. Rudi Wulf gets a run on the wing, and won't disgrace, and the team will lose nothing with Leon McDonald at the back.
Upfront. I'm pleased to see Rodney So'oialo back at number 8, and excited about Adam Thompson getting a start at blindside. If the AB's can get some good, front-foot ball, Thompson could play a prominent role, and throughout the S14, was a human dynamo with ball in hand.
The English have made a host of changes, primarily to shore up their defence. I wonder how much the events of the week will have distracted them.
The biggest worry is whether we will be able to see the game!! The fog descended on Christchurch last night a la the S14 final of 2006. Hopefully, there will be enough breeze tonight to keep the fog away. If the UK TV moguls insist on night games to make it more appealing to their audiences, they must accept the consequences when it all goes belly-up, weatherwise.
UPDATE: New Zealand 44; England 12
Another pretty solid performance by the All Blacks tonight over an English team which was was confrontational up front, but again weak defensively. Richard Kahui scored a try on debut, and Adam Thompson was, IMHO, robbed of a try by the South African TMO in the dying minutes of the game. The AB's had to cope with the first half loss of Richie McCaw and Ali Williams to leg injuries - the physios will be busy over the next two weeks.
Dan Carter had another great game, and kicked at 100% for the two matches. Ma'a Nonu was again strong at second-five, Kahui didn't look out of place and made some big tackles and Rudi Wulf had some good moments as the game opened up a bit in the second spell.
The All Black lineout again had problems, exacerbated by the loss of Williams, but the scrum was again strong, and Tony Woodcock made a good return from injury.
We get a week's respite next week (just as well - we have visitors!), then it's the Tri-Nations opener at the Cake Tin on 5 July against Die Bokke. Bring it on!
So what is the Roy Morgan organisation telling us?
National 52.5% (up 2); Labour 31.5% (down 0.5) - National ahead by a staggering 21 points.
The Roy Morgan commentary says:
"In mid June 2008, the latest Roy Morgan New Zealand Poll shows that overall National Party support was 52.5% (up 2%), Labour Party 31.5% (down 0.5%), Greens 7% (steady), NZ First 4% (unchanged), Maori Party 2% (down 1%), ACT NZ 2% (up 0.5%) and United Future 0.5% (down 0.5%)."
Then there's this:
Special analysis by Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and other areas of New Zealand shows the National Party ahead of the Labour Party in all areas.
Even in Wellington, where Labour has been strong, the National Party with 44.5% of the vote is now ahead of Labour at 38% in May-June 2008."
If Labour wasn't worried already, this poll will have a very sobering effect.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Hat-tip: Barnsley Bill
So, as the working week morphs into the weekend, welcome aboard, and share your thoughts...
"Mr Peters decided to attack National rather than the association in a bid to explain the return of a donation that Kate Russell had expressly sought in an email last December and said would not be returned.
From London last night, she laughed at the suggestion National had influenced the association and said: "It would be bloody nice if any of the political parties took any notice of us but we are so tiny they don't."
Kate Russell said the email was sent "before most people were in possession of all the facts and certainly before all of the charities were aware of the depth of public opinion with regard to this donation".
"Now, being in possession of the facts around how the New Zealand public and our own donors for that matter and members feel about this donation, we are turning it round.""
So, once again Peters has made an allegation that doesn't stack up. Still, he has only five months more to enjoy the limelight, so I guess he's making the most of it. And I guess, in a perverse kind of way, the blogosphere is helping him.
"Foreign Minister Winston Peters cast diplomacy aside yesterday as he questioned why there were so many "useless" men in power positions in the Pacific and not enough women.
Maori men also came in for a sideswipe when he suggested too many of them spent their time "parading around the maraes as peacocks doing no work".
Mr Peters made his comments at the foreign affairs and defence select committee at Parliament. He rejected suggestions that it could be perceived in the Pacific as arrogance.
"I don't seek to preach or hector them or lecture them. All we seek to do is ask some pretty simple questions like how come all these useless males are running the show."
Mr Peters said the lack of representation of women was a great worry.
"It seriously worries me. It needs to be said in the most blunt way to the leaders of all those countries: 'Where are your women?' We'd like to know. But if we don't ask the questions how are we going to know."
Now there may well be an element of truth in what Peters says. However, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, surely his role is to BUILD relationships, not systematically dismantle them. C'mon Helen - you've cut Winston a lot of slack; now is the time to cut Winston loose!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
News out today that Tiger Woods is out of golf for the remainder of 2008 and is to undergo reconstructive surgery on his left knee. He's also being reported as having a stress fracture in his left tibia. Don't let anyone tell you that golf is a passive sport!! PGA Tour.com carries the full story.
Whilst it will take a lot away from the remaining two majors, there will be a lot of players counting their good fortune. However, it may give the USA a better chance of winning the Ryder Cup later in the year - that's the one competition upon which Woods has yet to stamp his mark!
And spare a thought for Steve Williams, with his meal ticket clipped for the rest of the year. On the other hand, local speedway fans won't be complaining if Williams can get out on the dirt tracks a bit more often when the speedway season begins!
"With the exception of George Hawkins, no one else in Labour is as hardline as Goff - and therefore as credible - when it comes to talking tough on law and order.
So, as he has done so often before, Goff once again pulled out the numbers and percentages to show Labour had been far tougher when it came to sentencing, parole and bail provisions than the previous National government.
The proof of the pudding was Labour's creation of 2300 extra prison beds. Since Goff was shifted out of the Justice portfolio three years ago, however, Labour's official policy has been to find ways of cutting inmate numbers - not boast that they are more than 70 per cent higher than they were when Labour took office in 1999."
He also refers to Helen Clark's letter to John Key seeking National's support for a Labour law and order initiative - a crackdown on gangs, similar to what Key has already signalled in National's policy:
"Labour has been in such fixes before. But the difference this time is that the election presses ever closer and National is running very hard on the issue, with John Key leading the charge and unfazed by Labour's accusation that National is brazenly exploiting the killing of liquor store owner Navtej Singh for political purposes.
Notably, Key and his colleagues are again highlighting "army-style correction camps" as a solution for youth crime. During question-time, National's leader challenged the Prime Minister to back boot camps, knowing full well she wouldn't.
Helen Clark instead laid down a challenge to Key, revealing the Government had sent a letter to the Opposition seeking its support for a new gang-busting measure increasing the maximum penalty for participation in an organised criminal group from five to 10 years.
"If the National Party is going to be more than just talk, I look to its response ... confirming its support for that bill."
She did not have to wait long for an answer. Key confirmed National would support the measure because it was in line with National policy.
He also noted a Cabinet paper attached to the letter showed that Labour had discussed the law change as long ago as July last year.
If the letter was an attempt to ambush or outflank National, it backfired. It showed Labour desperately searching the bottom drawer for whatever it could find to prove it is still capable of coming up with fresh ideas to cut violent crime."
National 1; Labour 0?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This is a wise decision by the Cystic Fibrosis Association, and even though they are now $10k worse off than they would have been by accepting Winston's largesse, the blogging community can help. You can make an on-line donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Association here.
"If the law is sometimes an ass, then the Electoral Finance Act has proved to be a real donkey when it comes to stupidity, inflexibility and sheer unworkability.
If anything, last year's dire predictions of the measure's potential impact on political discourse have proven to have been on the conservative side.
Things have reached truly Kafkaesque proportions when it is considered necessary to remove references to the "Labour-led Government" from Budget press statements for fear they will be deemed to be election advertisements and breach the act by not being properly authorised as such.
Such rich ironies abound. Labour thought that by getting the legislation through Parliament last year, the public fuss would die down going into election year.
To the contrary, Labour has suffered continuing embarrassment as Justice Minister Annette King, her officials, the Electoral Commission and the courts have grappled with what interpretation should be given to the act's wording."
How could Labour have got this so wrong? Brew yourself a cuppa, and enjoy reading the rest of Armstrong's piece, knowing that there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in and around the Beehive as the government contemplates the irrepairable damage it has inflicted on itself. The General Debate this afternoon should be a doozy!!
Here's how the numbers stack up today:
For: Labour (49); Progressives (1) = 50
Against: National (48); ACT (2); UF (2) = 52 (You can almost certainly add Gordon Copeland to this list)
Undecided or unknown: NZ First (7); Greens (6); Maori Party (4); TPF
As Oliver reports, the Maori Party has major reservations. So do the Greens. And it's significant that, on a piece of legislation which is so important to the government, one of their confidence and supply partners (Dunne) has abandoned them.
What concessions will Clark, Cullen & co make to ensure that their "flagship" legislation makes it through the House? Interesting times await us!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The 18 hole play-off for the US Open, the toughest test in golf, was compelling viewing. Woods was ahead by 3 shots after 10 holes, and poised for a comfortable win. Suddenly though, a couple of Woods bogeys and a run of three straight birdies by Rocco Mediate changed the game, as Mediate led by one shot playing the 18th. Here's the full story from PGATour.com.
This was the greatest major I have ever watched, and I've been watching golf on the TV since the 1960's when we had the black and white coverage of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. This Championship (as I said earlier, always the toughest test in golf) had everything - a magnificent course in superb condition, a great field, and any amount of high drama. The play-off today was a proper David vs Goliath battle, and just when it looked like the little guy would win, the giant dug deep.
Tiger Woods is a superb golfer. It's hard to make comparisons between the ages, but he is arguably the best to have ever played the game. But this week, he has revealed something else - he has an incredible spirit. The legends tell of the tactics his father used to make Tiger mentally tough - and they worked. In the last few days, he has overcome the physical vulnerability of his damaged knee, and toughed it out, to emerge triumphant. He ranks today's victory as his greatest achievement in golf, and who would argue? It may even become THE greatest achievement in golf.
Postscript: Don't underestimate the contribution that Steve Williams makes to Tiger Woods's success - this article from the ESPN website gives a great insight into the big guy alongside Tiger!
I began Keeping Stock on 3 August last year, incensed at the government's intention to introduce the insidious Electoral Finance Act. Initially, I was posting once a day; now, I spend a little more time! Blogging becomes addictive but being self-employed and able to manage my own schedule makes a huge difference.
Up to this point, it's been all my own work, and that's how it will continue - one man's take on the world. However, as the election draws near, I'm strongly considering some "guest posts", and have already made overtures to someone whose views are poles apart from mine. Diversity and open-mindedness are good for debate, so watch this space.
Thanks to all of you who have visited, and especially those who have taken the time to comment, critique and disagree. To date, the only comments I have ever deleted have been my own, written when brain and fingers have not been in synch. I hope that the standard of comments allows me to continue not having to impose controls.
So again, thanks to you all for your support and encouragement - and welcome to my world!
"If NZ First leader Winston Peters expects a surge of public approval to follow the news his party has given $158,000 to charity he is mistaken, The Dominion Post writes.
Lest anyone has forgotten, it should be remembered that the donation is not a donation in the commonly understood sense of the word. It is NZ First's response to having been caught misspending $158,000 of public money during the 2005 election campaign.
NZ First was not alone. Seven of the eight parties represented in Parliament, including Labour and National, were found by Auditor-General Kevin Brady to have misspent a combined total of more than $1.1 million during the campaign. But five have since repaid the money and the sixth, UnitedFuture, is making regular repayments.
NZ First, after delaying for more than a year while a "team of lawyers" reviewed Mr Brady's findings, has chosen to make good its sins by donating to unidentified charities.
That is a tacit acknowledgment, at least, by NZ First's lawyers that Mr Brady was right and NZ First's MPs were wrong. If not, NZ First could have been expected to mount a legal challenge to Mr Brady's finding that the law in 2005 did not allow political parties to spend public money on campaign bric-a-brac. But it is not good enough."
Keeping Stock could not agree more. It is a stunt by Peters, and a stunt which should backfire one him. NZ First makes much of its honesty, often claiming the moral high ground in the most dubious of circumstances. However on this issue they have shown scant disregard for the people they purport to represent - the taxpayers of New Zealand. I'll let the Dom-Post close for me:
"But giving $158,000, taken from the public purse, to outside organisations does not constitute repayment of a debt. Nor does refusing to name the recipients, something he had previously undertaken to do, lend credibility to the exercise. Mr Peters says he has decided not to name the charities because he does not want them bothered by the "prying media".
That is a one-fingered salute to those who hold to the quaint notion that politicians should be accountable for how they spend public money."
Monday, June 16, 2008
Surely, after the farce that it the Electoral Finance Act, you'd have thought that the government would be thinking twice about rushing a piece of legislation through. Especially a piece of legislation as complex, wide-ranging and far-reaching as this will be. But no, There will be no additional consultation. The government knows best, even if it does not yet have the numbers to advance the Bill.
National's minority report contained the following:
"The correct way forward is for the Government to table a substantive amending SOP in Parliament to address the major concerns with the Bill. These amendments should be sent alongside the existing Bill back to the Select Committee for submissions, careful analysis and final deliberation. The Bill should then be advanced through its second and third readings. It would be possible to conclude this process prior to the General Election but it is more likely to be done properly in the less politically charged post election period."
I agree wholeheartedly with this approach. There is too much at stake to be rushing this legislation through before the election.
"That is why I am pleased to say that in 2008 New Zealand First will go on ensuring that there is stable Government in this country—that is No. 1—because we keep our word. We are famous for it. What we say we will do, we do. That is why some people do not like us. What we say we will do, we do. We do not back down on our word."
I don't normally comment on these quotes, but this one is especially pertinent given the hypocricy shown by Winston and NZ First over the "secret" donations to charity in lieu of payment of the party's debt to Parliamentary Services.
So yesterday, I played 18 holes on a balmy Sunday morning, and got home just in time to see the last few holes of the third round of the US Open. And in that hour, I saw some absolute greatness from the man who will, in time, be recognised as the greatest player ever to play the game - Tiger Woods. I just missed his 66 foot eagle putt on the 13th, and as I started watching, he bogeyed the 14th to go one over for the championship. He scrambled pars on 15 and 16, then the fun began. Melanie Hauser describes the action on PGATour.com.
It was an incredible finish from Woods. And what made it even remarkable was that he was doing it one one leg, as he recovers from surgery on his left knee. For any right-handed golfer, the left leg "anchors" the swing. When you swing a golf club with the ferocity of Tiger Woods, the torque going through he left knee is huge. And the pain that Woods was experiencing yesterday was obvious, and at times, excruciating. Woods has risen another notch in my estimation for a display of guts and determination.
So Tiger Woods will start the quest for his 14th Major this morning with a one-shot lead. He has NEVER lost a major when leading, or tied for the lead going into the final round. If he can keep that record intact today, it will be the stuff of legends, and will greatly strengthen his case to be "The Greatest".
Stand by for updates throughout the day.....
UPDATE #1 - Woods opened double-bogey/bogey to go back to even par. He's just birdied #9 to trail Lee Westwood by one at the halfway stage. As I watch, Westwood has just bogeyed #10 and woods is tied for the lead again, and now Woods has hit a superb tee shot on #11 to within four feet. Game on as Woods makes the birdie putt to lead Rocco Mediate by one and Westwood by two.
UPDATE #2 - Well, what can you say? Staring down the barrel of defeat, trailing Rocco Mediate by one shot, Tiger Woods puts his tee shot on the par-five 18th in a fairway bunker, his bunker shot into the rough, then pitches to 15 feet - then DRILLS his birdie putt to tie Mediate!! It's an 18-hole playoff tomorrow!!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
What's ironic here is that New Zealand First supported the passgae of the Electoral Finance Act, and made much noise about transparency in political party funding. So here's a question for Winston!
Mr Peters, does New Zealand First practice what it preaches?
And here's the answer....
Now, there's a word for that, is it hypocricy?