Friday, October 31, 2008

The Friday Forum 31/10/2008

Flippin' heck - there's only two months left til New Year's Eve - where has 2008 gone? But more inmportantly, there are only eight more sleeps until Election Day dawns, and we're ALL looking forward to that, aren't we?!

So let's talk politics today - or anything else that takes your fancy. Plus there's the test in Honkers tomorrow night, which Mrs Inventory and I won't see, because we will be airborne over the Tassie Sea - bugger! Rip into it folks!

It's about trust - #6

When the excrement hits the airconditioner over the Owen Glenn/Winston Peters saga (monitored by Keeping Stock from afar!), you can trust Labour to come up with a diversion. Except that to give them credit, they normally come up with something with at least a LITTLE bit of substance.

But can you trust John Key to lead New Zealand? Keeping Stock reckons so.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Neutron bomb a "fizzer"

So says the Herald - oh dear; how sad; never mind. And of course, you can trust Helen Clark to distance herself from it - after all, she is only the Prime Minister and Labour's Strategist-in-Chief!

Greetings from sea - again

Well, Mrs Inventory and I are now on our way back to Sydney, and as we head into the last 48 hours at sea, the weather has improved markedly! We spent a great day yesterday at the Isle of Pines, just south of New Caledonia. We swam in crystal-clear waters in the lagoon, on a beach that was just what you imagine a Pacific Islands beach to be! Photos will follow when we are home again!

Today and tomorrow will be relax days, as we squeeze the last chance to really "blob out" before Christmas. The trip has been very timely, and much-needed - with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. But home, and work, are starting to appear on the horizon again, although we will approach them in a much better state of mind!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's about trust...#5

Don't forget - when the Prime Minister talks about National's "secret agenda", it's worth remembering that she has some history of her own, which Keeping Stock referred to earlier in the year.

She really is the Hollow Woman!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greetings from Ouvea

Afternoon all, and greetings from the South Pacific Ocean paradise of Ouvea in the Loyalty Islands - or to be precise, from a large cruise ship berthed about a mile out to sea. We've been to the island for a swim this morning in crystal clear waters, and at last the sun has made an appearance! It's in the high 20's, with a lovely breeze blowing. Yesterday was Port Vila in Vanuatu - it was 27* and humid when we arrived at 7.30am, and it only got hotter. Then, early afternoon the heavens opened! Tomorrow we visit the Isle of Pines at the foot of New Caledonia, then it will be homeward bound for Sydney.

Mrs Inventory and I are now converts to cruising! This has been a very welcome break; much needed in her case, and we have done some serious relaxing. The staff here are first-rate; nothing has been a bother. The food is superb; the only problem has been that there is too much of it!! We shall return!

Meantime, it'll be good to get home on Sunday night and catch up with all the news, then start catching up with work on Monday! And don't forget - it's about trust!!

It's about trust...#4

Can anyone ever trust Winston Peters again?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Monday Quote - 27/10/2008

I don't have to go far from home to find today's quote - I'll simply quote myself, on life on the ocean waves!!

Sheesh, this beats working!

It's about trust...#3

When National wasn't releasing any policy earlier in the year, the Labour MP's ranted and raved about "secret agendas", "borrow for tax cuts" etc etc ad infinitum ad nauseum.

So how come Labour can get away telling us they'll have a mini-budget A MONTH AFTER the election, but they won't give anyone any details. It all sounds a bit hypocritical to me, and not very trustworthy at all!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Evening all!!

Well, here we are, on the high seas. At midday today, we were almost halfway between Sydney and Vanuatu. Life on board the Pacific Dawn is great, and we are getting some much-needed downtime, but now that I have discovered the Internet Cafe, there might be a bit of blogging too! The first night was a bit rough, but as we head into the Coral Sea, it's smooth sailing now. Stay tuned...

Go Wanganui!!

Given that Mrs Inventory and I are somewhere near Vanuatu today, we won't be at Cook's Gardens to cheers on the mighty Wanganui rugby side as they head for victory in the Meads Cup.

Should they be able to knock over Mid-Canterbury this afternoon, they will be the only first-class rugby team in New Zealand to have a perfect record in 2008. Sure, it's a big step down from Super rugby, or even the Air New Zealand Cup, but the Wanganui side has played a great style of rugby this season, and they've done the province proud.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Friday Forum 24/10/2008

Yippee - it's Friday, AND it's a long weekend! Even though Mrs Inventory and I are far from land, the marvels of modern technology are letting us stay in touch from time to time.

Anyway, welcome to Keeping Stock's Friday Forum - YOUR place in the blogosphere for some robust debate on the issues that matter to you, and to all of us. So welcome aboard (if you'll pardon the nautical reference!), and share what's on your mind - you never know who might be reading!

And go the Mighty Wanganui in the Meads Cup final tomorrow!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's about trust...#2

So Helen Clark says that the 2008 election is about trust. But should we really trust politicians who criticise others for even thinking of selling state assests when they themselves voted FOR the sale of Telecom?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's about trust...#1

Whose first act as Prime Minister was to engineer the resignation of the Police Commissioner by knowingly leaking incorrect information from Police and PCA investigations to a journalist and his editor?

There are no prizes for guessing the answer, but she wants you to trust her again in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We're off to sea!

The lights will be burning late tonight (or early into the morning hours) at the Inventory whare - we have a pile of work to do before we head off on holiday tomorrow, and compromises have had to be made. We fly over to Sydney tomorrow, then board a rather large ship on Thursday for a trip up to the islands. It's been a helluva year so far, and Mrs I is still battling a bit (although she is far better than she was when she had her week of enforced rest at the Wanganui Hilton!), so a sea voyage should be just the tonic. We'll be back at our desks on the 3rd of November, and I've managed to find time to forward-date a few posts, so check in from time to time - as I will be doing, internet access willing.

Meantime, I'll come back refreshed for the last week of the election campaign, so when other bloggers are dropping like flies with campaign fatigue, Keeping Stock will have all the breaking stories!! Sounds good in theory anyway. So behave yourselves, and just remember - it's not really about trust - it's actually about John Key!

Another PM porkie?

Keeping Stock reckons that Helen Clark told a porkie when she of the forthcoming election "It's about trust".

Why? Well, if you look at the way that Labour is campaigning, especially the TV advertisements that started running last night it's not about trust at all - it's about John Key.

And after all, the PM is the very last person who shoould be criticising someone for being - ummmm - two-faced, don't you think?

Inflation past 5%

The annual inflation figure has just been announced, and it's not flash - 5.1% for the year ended 30 September, the highest it's been since 1990.

Which is interesting, because in 1990 Helen Clark was Deputy PM, Minister of Labour and Minister of Health and Michael Cullen was Minister of Social Welfare and Helen Clark's Associate Labour and Health Minister, having been Associate Finance Minsiter until August 1989.

So dear readers, do you trust these people to run the New Zealand economy?

Is this the 2008 Pledgecard?

I guess you can excuse Labour for this in an obtuse sort of way - when you don't have any funds of your own to spend, and there's a HUGE pot of dosh provided by the poor, old taxpayer, it's just sooooo hard to resist putting your hand in!

So full marks to Labour for thinking of a new way to rort us, and a fail mark to the MSM for not scrutinising Labour's attempt to woo the Grey vote with its Pledgecard-in-drag. Yep, you can sure trust the Labour-led government to spend YOUR taxes on THEIR cause!

Hat-tip: Matthew Hooten

It's about trust...

Yep, that is what Helen Clark reckons this election is about - trust. So being a public-spirited blog, Keeping Stock will, over the coming days, remind you who you can (or cannot) trust on November 8th. Watch this space...

Suck on that Annette

The Dom-Post reports that National's plans for more police have found favour with both the Police Association and business leaders:

National's promise of 600 more frontline police by 2011 has support in principle from the Police Association and business leaders.

National leader John Key has promised an additional $18.5 million a year to recruit 300 extra frontline police for troubled South Auckland by 2010, and another 300 for the rest of the country by the end of 2011.

He criticised the Labour-led Government for generating only 210 "front-line" police since the 2005 election - despite its agreement with NZ First to create 1000 front-line officers by mid-2009.

However, police figures show that 1250 police have been recruited since the election, with more than 500 on the front lines.

Though only 210 had been assigned to general duties, a further 193 were battling organised crime and 133 were in road policing. Some of the 273 community-focused officers could also be classified as "front-line" staff, a police spokesman said.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said there was still a lack of front-line reactive police.

"We don't have them and these are the guys who carry the brunt of police work," he said. "Violent crime statistics have refused to drop and the only way to stop it is by being there. When we don't turn up to a prowler at 3am or people rolling out of the pub, our reputation really suffers."

Though difficult, it would be possible to train 600 more police by 2011.

NZ Business chief executive Phil O'Reilly agreed the recruitment drive was a stretch, but not impossible.

He said the economic downturn would add to unemployment, and the police starting salary package of more than $50,000 would be attractive.

"There are a lot of levers they can pull - be it more pay, targeted recruitment, or dropping the entry requirement. There are people out there that want to be policemen."

Keeping Stock guesses that unlike Annette King, Greg O'Connor and Phil O'Reilly just can't recognise a blatant attempt to create fear!

The Ides of McCain

Keeping Stock hasn't devoted much space to the US Presidential election, but we do rather like this cartoon from Mike Morehu this morning....

What's Labour up to?

Good question eh? Why would Labour come out and say it won't make any more spending promises before the election? Is the cupboard REALLY that bare? Or is there some sinister plan to outflank National in other ways?

Nonetheless, Helen Clark has still come out with her "wish-list". Keeping Stock finds it a little odd that the same media types who were screaming "Show us ya policy" at John Key throughout the year are giving the PM so much latitude, as they have with Labour's plans for a December mini-budget.

It couldn't be a secret agenda could it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Annette King's at it again!

The Minister of Common Sense and Associate Minister for Full Moons and Hot Summers is at it again. Rather than commending National's promise to put 300 more police on the streets of South Auckland by 2010, she's poured cold water all over the idea - which will absolutely delight the likes of Ross Robertson and George Hawkins, seeking a fresh mandate from the local populus. Stuff reports:

Police Minister Annette King has hit out at National's announcement that it would put 300 extra cops into frontline roles in South Auckland, saying the move was "creating fear".

In a statement, Mr Key said National believed the blue line was stretched far too thin, so would give a "priority boost" to Counties-Manukau police by committing 300 new sworn officers to frontline roles by the end of 2010.

But Ms King said this afternoon that the Government was currently refining a cross-Auckland policing strategy, which would ensure officers were available where they were most needed across all three Auckland police districts -Counties-Manukau, Auckland and Waitemata.

"National's policy is not about providing reassurance. It's about creating fear in South Auckland particularly," Ms King said.

Keeping Stock would have thought that there was already a climate of fear in South Auckland with the crime and violence that seems to have become a way of life. Surely sending another 300 police into the area is going to make it a safer place. But then this IS Annette King that we're talking about!!

Save Winston!

Yep, as Keeping Stock opined the other day, if you send two bloggers out in a Winnebago Blogmobile and with time on their hands, strange things are bound to happen - but you have to LOVE this minor sugery on one of Winston's billboards!

Hat-tip: Kiwiblog

Shock, horror!

Can you believe it? The Greens have ruled out doing a post-election deal with the National Party.

Oh dear. How sad. Never mind. The demarcation line between the left and the right just became a whole lot clearer.

The Monday Quote - 20/10/2008

Yep, you can guess where this is going! But Helen Clark does not get recognised today for the "shout people down at home" slur; rather, it was her bad-loser act the following day that earner her a dishonourable mention from Keeping Stock. And so, to refresh your memory, this from the Herald on Wednesday:

Helen Clark laid into National leader John Key's performance in last night's head to head debate today saying it was lucky he didn't cry and accusing him of having a tantrum.

"The fact he didn't burst out crying on the set probably counted for him," she said during a Radio Live question and answer session this morning.

Later in the day she didn't resile from her criticism telling reporters that expectations around Mr Key's performance before the debate were low and; "the fact he didn't collapse with a stress attack on the set probably gave him marks".

A note here to the PM - Kiwis don't like bad losers! File that away for November 8th.

Tariana and John

The Dom-Post is reporting that Tariana Turia has said clearly that the Maori Party would be happy to work with National to form a government post-election:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has made it clear she would be happy to work with National to form a government following the election.

She made the point when asked to comment on the findings of Marae Digipolls in four of the seven Maori electorates in the past two weeks finding Maori voters overwhelmingly wanted the Maori Party to work with Labour after the election.

While speaking on TVNZ's Marae programme today Mrs Turia said she believed Maori would want the Maori Party to work with a government - National or Labour-led - which would give Maori what they wanted after the election.

"If National was prepared to meet the aspirations of our people I can't see our people saying no, you wait in opposition for another term and we'll wait until Labour finally makes it back into government."

She said the Maori Party had to operate realistically within an MMP environment which might require it to work with a National or Labour-led government.

"We've got a responsibility to do something and that is what we are going to do," Mrs Turia said.

These are welcome words from Mrs Turia, who just happens to live around the corner from the Inventory whare (Mrs Inventory would die for the view from Tariana's place!). The Maori Party looks to have cemented its place on our political landscape, and has impressed with its integrity throughout its first term. And it is a natural partner for National - neither party has yet breached the Electoral Finance Act, unlike thos parties which supported it!

What's wrong about MMP?

Last night's Colmar-Brunton poll, that's what. When one party is supported by 50% of those polled, and yet may not be able to form a government, something is majorly wrong with the system. And when a party supported by little more than one third of the electorate could cobble together enough dodgy deals to put a coalition together, something is even more majorly wrong.

Keeping Stock hopes that National will use last night's poll as an illustration to support their policy for a binding referendum on the future of MMP. It is absurd that the fleas continue to wag the tail that wags the dog. There has to be a better way!

Has Key gazzumped Labour?

Has John Key out-manouevered those self-professed political "experts" Helen Clark and Michael Cullen? I guess the jury will be out until the election, but from where Keeping Stock sits, Key's move to call for a bi-partisan approach (as is the convention) to the financial crisis is spot on.

Audrey Young notes that Labour has said "Thanks, but...", but has stopped short of welcoming him with open arms:

Finance Minister Michael Cullen says he will "take full notice" of what National said about the banking guarantee schemes - a response to John Key's call for a more bipartisan approach and more urgency in finalising schemes.

But Dr Cullen stopped short yesterday of saying he would actually involve National Party finance spokesman Bill English in the decision-making.

He said he welcomed the "re-assertion" of support for a bipartisan approach to finance sector regulation by Mr Key, the National Party leader.

Mr Key said yesterday that he did not see an imminent crisis in the banking sector but he wanted greater certainty, and sooner.

"At a time when confidence will play an important role in our economy, more certainty sooner should be our goal," he said at a press conference at Parliament.

"I am therefore making this statement because I want to confirm to [Prime Minister] Helen Clark and her colleagues that the National Party is prepared to work with them to ensure that decisions can be made during this election period, when it would be easy for politics to get in the way."

Meanwhile, John Armstrong sees it a little differently, and reckons Labour will see through Key's ploy:

Good try, John. But Labour is not going to fall for that old trick.

John Key insists his offer to Michael Cullen to work with Labour on urgently needed measures to protect the banking system was made to stop "politics getting in the way".

The politics always get in the way. However genuine Key's motives, his bipartisan initiative was bound to be treated with suspicion by Labour in the midst of an election campaign.

Helen Clark and her colleagues will have simply viewed it as a ploy by Key to look prime ministerial in a crisis.

Keeping Stock reckons that this action HAS made Key look prime ministerial already, and that it may be a case where the perception is more important than the reality. Helen Clark tries to peddle the line that Key is inexperienced but she can't run from this plain, simple fact - Michael Cullen is inexperienced in bad economic times as well, and the leadership he has shown in the last few months barely inspires confidence!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Forget about the election for a minute. Forget about the financial crisis. Forget about world peace. The mighty Wellington Phoenix notched up its second win of the season tonight with a 1-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners at Gosford. Karl Dodd was the unlikely scorer with a header from a Leilei Gao corner in the 53rd minute - his first goal in 37 A-League games!

Although the Phoenix stay in 7th place on the ladder, they are now only a win out of third in a tightly-bunched mid-table, and with two wins and a draw from their last three outings, they are at last starting to string some results together. Unfortunately most of the home games have been Sunday afternoon affairs to date, which leaves Inventory with a clash of schedules. But I'll get to the Ring of Fire before Christmas. Go the Nix!

Winston plays his violin

The photograph pretty much says it all - it's almost mugshot-like, and not the confident, ebullient Winston Peters that we've all come to know. And the story in today's Sunday Star-Times begins like an obituary:

WINSTON PETERS sat very still under the lights, slumped into a ratty office chair, a small plastic cup of water in his hands. He had already had a nap today, as his ministerial limousine chauffeured him from an engagement at Waikato University to an Auckland interview with John Campbell; now, sitting in a makeshift studio in TVNZ's atrium minutes before filming an interview with Tagata Pasifika, he gave the impression of hibernation.

He seemed weary, drawn into himself. He barely spoke, but grunted. Things were probably going better than they had on his last visit to TVNZ's studios, when political commentator Matthew Hooton called him a "f---ing c---", but still. In an old-fashioned double-breasted navy suit, the stresses of polling at around the margin of error drawn on his impressively crumpled face, the 65-year-old looked like a faded matinee idol, yesterday's man.

"When you're walking through airports and people are looking at you like you're a crook, you've got to know what that's like," Peters had told the Star-Times a few days earlier, following the Serious Fraud Office's announcement that his party had committed no fraud in its reckoning of a $100,000 donation by billionaire businessman Owen Glenn. Had the Glenn fiasco, which saw him lose his foreign affairs and racing portfolios and suffer a humiliating censure by parliament, finally sapped the 30-year parliamentary veteran?

But it only took two words to reignite Peters - John Key:

"I'm not going to waste my time on the campaign talking about Mr Key," he snapped. "The last one was Brash, before that was English, before that was Shipley. There's a long list of losers, and I'm supposed to waste my time on the campaign trail talking about them?" The old crocodile creased his face into his famous grin, to reassure anyone who might suspect he was ailing, or spent, that he was in fact merely basking, quite comfortably.

"Yes, I am still enjoying politics," he said, the following day. "And I hope other people are enjoying my enjoying politics." He was upbeat for someone apparently so close to political oblivion all polls have his National opponent, 31-year-old former Crown prosecutor Simon Bridges, comfortably ahead in the Tauranga electorate which ejected Peters in 2005. His best hope of a return to parliament is through the party vote. New Zealand First squeaked in with 5.72% last time; a rolling poll of polls has him currently on 3.3%.

But no one writes Peters off. He has made a habit of improbable comebacks, and is in his element on the hustings, ramping up his familiar attacks against the faceless cabal hellbent on his destruction, into a freewheeling, sometimes incoherent rhetoric of paranoia. The Glenn affair was a result of big business, the liberal media and the "upper echelons" of the SFO conspiring against him, he says; the allegations had hurt not only himself, but the nation. "It does enormous damage when a foreign minister is defamed internationally like that. I regard it as the ultimate act of national treachery."

Ah yes, you can hear the strains of the violin playing! Of course, every problem currently besetting Peters is the result of someone else's actions. If only he could have the honesty to admit that he is far from perfect, he might have a decent shot at survival in three weeks time. But he remains in denial, and with any luck, he and his fellow MP's will have plenty of time to contemplate the world after the Court of Public Opinion hands down its verdict.

Gambling on the crisis

There's a good chance that you saw this story around the traps yesterday as I did, but it's taken me a while to get my head around it, and Sunday mornings are a good time to sit back and digest the news. So here, as a public service, is the full text of Fran O'Sullivan's article in yesterday's Herald - dragged by Queen Bee from the deepest, darkest recesses of the Herald's website, when it should have been front page news - and the bits in bold are where I have added emphasis:

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard must openly tell the Government to stop playing politics and guarantee the trading banks' foreign funding lines, before they ration lending and stall the New Zealand economy.

If Bollard can't summon the courage, he should resign. Because there is little more than a three-month window before trading banks put the clamps on new loans and tighten conditions to existing customers.

Neither Prime Minister Helen Clark nor Finance Minister Michael Cullen is telling the voting public this vital truth. Instead they are allowing voters to be lulled into a false sense of security through Clark's announcement that the Government has acted to keep depositors' savings safe and avert any panic withdrawals.

The scheme Clark announced last Sunday includes a Government guarantee for retail deposits in New Zealand-registered banks and other institutions. But unlike the Australian scheme, the New Zealand Government's guarantee does not cover funds the banks access from international wholesale markets, a factor which will leave the banks short of vital cash to loan to customers unless something is done.

National leader John Key and finance spokesman Bill English, who know the real story, are too spooked that Labour will attack them for fear-mongering to go public.

The political calculation will be feral. At issue is whether Clark and Cullen - two extremely skilful political strategists - are manufacturing a mini-crisis which will cement them as leaders in the voters' eyes if they come to the party (again) before the election by issuing an inter-bank guarantee to keep "Kiwis in business".

Labour will have observed how British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came off his political deathbed to emerge as a hero in Churchillian mode by bailing out the British banks. Clark and Cullen know from experience how former Labour finance minister Sir Roger Douglas was able to set the agenda after the 1984 election when he had to act to stem a currency crisis.

Experienced politicians welcome crises for that reason. But in my view, Bollard should not wait in hope that venal politics will triumph.

Instead he should use his legally guaranteed independence to publicly call this Government to account in the fearless fashion adopted by his peers America's Bernard Bernanke and Australia's Glenn Stevens, who have helped to steward their respective economies through the crisis.

So far, this Government has reduced Bollard to a well-paid eunuch as it announces policies for political effect on the election campaign trail, instead of forming a statesmanlike response to the international crisis.

The central bank has let it be known, in elite circles, that it was not fully in the loop last weekend as senior Labour Cabinet ministers talked with their Australian counterparts over the guarantees they would offer to shore up their respective financial systems.

The upshot was that the major political groundswell Prime Minister Helen Clark engendered on Sunday, as she announced the Government would guarantee New Zealand bank deposits at Labour's formal campaign launch, was based on shaky grounds.

Already conditions have been retrospectively attached to the "free guarantees" Finance Minister Michael Cullen initially announced for finance companies, after widespread disgust that cowboys were now being given carte blanche to rip-off taxpayers.

But the Government has (so far) refused to face up to the real systemic risk to the New Zealand financial system: the inability of our major banks to access the international credit lines - which make up more than half of local lending - without a Government guarantee.

The inter-bank market has basically been seized up for three weeks now. With fear stalking the international markets, lenders are now loath to place their funds anywhere, irrespective of how credit-worthy the country, if its Government does not underwrite the risk.

The Reserve Bank explained to me earlier this week that "given the ownership of much of the banking system in New Zealand, the Government is mindful that the foreign shareholders may be the ultimate beneficiaries of any Government support for the banks".

In fact, Cullen rejected an offer by former Australian Treasurer Peter Costello to give the New Zealand depositors of Aussie banks domiciled here the same protections Aussie depositors enjoyed and forced them to set up separate local entities. He can't have it both ways and allow anti-Australian attitudes to predominate over the national interest.

To be fair to Cullen, it is possible that he has been too focused on winning the election to consult the major institutions. But the fact he has since refused to talk directly with the predominantly Australian-owned trading banks on the issue rules out mere incompetence.

The banks' customers should not panic _ yet. The Reserve Bank will pump some cash into the trading banks by buying securitised mortgages from them. But the banks' ability to access cash from their Australian parents is limited by Aussie prudential rules. This means they do need to get funds from overseas or lending will contract.

Bollard was told this by the bankers in a series of private tete-a- tetes about 10 days ago.

He is paid big bucks as the nation's top central banker. Time to tell the public the truth.

So there you have it. Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are prepared to let banks further stall the already-ailing New Zealand economy by having to ration lending. Then, at about the same hour as the Exclusive Brethren became the campaign focus in 2005, Clark and Cullen will "act" (probably a very good choice of word, if you put it in a theatrical context), make interbank guarantees, and gallop to electoral victory on their white chargers.

Little wonder that Helen Clark has said that "This is an election about trust". You can trust Labour to cynically play to the fears of New Zealanders about their financial security if it gives them a chance at a fourth term.

Dover demands an inquiry!

Breaking news!! Retiring (and emigrating) Labour MP Dover Samuels is demanding an inquiry over the Yang Liu citizenship scandal. But before you jump to the conclusion that ole Dover is interested in a search for the truth in this sordid business, read this:

Dover Samuels is standing by Liu, saying the Interpol warrant issued by Chinese authorities was politically motivated.

He is friends with Liu and his wife Vienna, who he said was also a New Zealand citizen. Their young daughters, Emily and Tiffany, were born in New Zealand.

Samuels believed his friend was fleeing human rights abuses, and would be in danger if he were returned to China.

The retiring Government MP said the Immigration Service and Internal Affairs Department had threatened to cancel Liu's permanent residence, then had leaked the papers to Wishart as a smear campaign.

Samuels demanded an inquiry into the leaks.

Good on you Dover - a Labour man to the very end!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dodgy passports affair is John Key's fault

The 9th Floor spin machine must have been rotating at high speed today - here's the story as it currently (6.30pm) appears on the One News website:

National Party leader John Key says he had met Auckland businessman Yang Liu, the subject of questions about his residency and citizenship.

He also says Liu had made an unsolicited donation of $5000 to National before the last election.

Key says he remembers meeting Liu three times, twice at lunches before the 2005 election, and once when they were both at the same event after the election in late 2005 or early 2006. MP Pansy Wong also attended both lunches.

"I have not met him since becoming leader," Key says.

Now what's really bizarre about this is that Guyon Espiner has just put the knife into Shane Jones on the 6pm bulletin, saying Jones "has some explaining to do". Key does not deny that he met Liu, and National has conceded that Pansy Wong also supported Liu's application for citizenship. But someone, somewhere has decided that Key's involvement is the real issue.

Patently, it isn't. The "real issue" is that two Ministers of the Crown made a decision to grant citizenship to Liu DESPITE the recommendation of officials at Internal Affairs, who had serious concerns as to whether Liu met the good character requirements. And one of those Ministers knew that Liu attended Labour Party fundraising dinners.

Espiner is right - Shane Jones DOES have some explaining to do. So does Rick Barker. Not so John Key!

So very true!

DPF and WhaleOil obviously have too much time on their hands, travelling as they are around the place in the Winnebago Blogmobile. And they've come up with this excellent billboard for the Labour Party!

The Monkey and the Chinaman

Lee C at Monkeys With Typewriters is not only a gifted satirist, he's a man with a big heart. No, really he is! He's so concerned that the guys at The Standard and other left-wing blogs will have to work overtime this weekend to counter Ian Wishart's smoking gun that he's written their lines for them! And may I say - he's done a masterful job - here's a wee sample, but take my advice - if you need a chuckle, you'll find it here:


"The right wingers will stop at nothing to victimise and persecute the poor, in their shameless hunger for power 'at any cost'." suggested Helen Clark today, as she took time out of her busy election campaign to visit some photogenic poor people and take tea with them. It seems that Helen Clark, as the campaign gets into its second week can't put a foot wrong, compared to the slippery and recently discredited John Key, who is still struggling to find traction with an increasingly hostile public. "Just look at his nose..." said Helen Clark yesterday. "Of course, I was referring to Pinnochio, not semites." she added, chuckling, today, on TV1.

Anonymous donations to Labour?

Kiwiblog reports that the Electoral Commission has updated its list of "big donors" to political parties, and that among the top nine (the smallest of which is $24k), there is not a single donation to the Labour Party. Now Keeping Stock realises that the ruling elite isn't actually the flavour of the month, but surely someone would chip in a reasonably substantial sum of dosh. No? Then again, if Ian Wishart's allegations are true, why would Labour need to disclose donations when they can just host a few "fundraising dinners" - read this from today's TGIF editorial:

Our sources told us of donations being made at the Jade Terrace restaurant. We rang Labour’s Mike Williams who admitted, yes, Labour has held Chinese fundraising events at the Jade Terrace restaurant. But, he warns, we don’t know who the individual donors might be because we just put all the money into the kitty as an aggregate donation.

Seems like a great way to launder donations anonymously, or at least while appearing anonymous. No paper trail to prove how much you personally have given, or even whether you have given at all.

According to one Labour source, the Chinese fundraising nights have been known to raise up to $200,000 for political parties – just in one night. So if you turn up with $20,000 cash in your pocket and drop it in the bucket, who’s going to know?

Talk about a fantastic way to get around the Electoral Finance Act’s requirement for donations to be declared – call it a fundraiser and have a whip-around!

I say “appearing” anonymous, because in truth Labour knows who was invited to the fundraisers, so it knows the people are probably supporters. That’s all the party needs to know, and all the knowledge necessary for a perception of a conflict of interest to arise.

Yes indeed. It sounds as though Labour has found a very convenient way to circumvent its own Electoral Finance Act. Keeping Stock reckons that you can trust Labour to say one thing and then do the opposite, which is quite important when "This is an election about trust"!

Cash for passports?

Ian Wishart seems to have broken a biggie overnight, with the news of Yang Liu being granted a New Zealand passport, personally presented to him by Dover Samuels, despite advice from the Dept of Internal Affairs that he was of questionable character.

I heard Wishart interviewed by Larry Willimas late yesterday, and it is clear that the decision stunned staff at the DIA, which is now leaking like a sieve. It would appear that this is not an isolated case.

Questions now must be asked about the judgment of Ministers Rick Barker and Shane Jones. Yang Liu , who clearly appears to have travelled and conducted business under multiple identities, using multiple passports had assest a A$3.3 million seized in Australia, and is still wanted by Chinese authorities for alleged serious fraud - there is an Interpol Red Alert against his name. When he applied for NZ Citizenship, sponsored by his friend Dover Samuels, DIA wrote to him to canvass matters of character, and with a long list of questions - check this out:

A further letter on Liu’s DIA file (file number CIT2005011583), dated 25 March 2008, reveals the Internal Affairs Department has grave doubts about the suitability of Yang Liu to even be in New Zealand as a permanent resident, let alone be awarded citizenship.
“Could you please answer the following questions in writing,” asked Gambo:
1. How many identities do you have or have you used?
2. Why are you using multiple identities?
3. Which of these identities are false?
4. What is your true name?
5. What is your correct date of birth?
6. Is your birth certificate a true record of your birth? If no, why?
7. If 20 October 1972 was not your correct date of birth, why did you declare on your application form that you were born on 20 October 1972? Why are you using a Chinese passport that shows your date of birth as 20 October 1972?
8. If 15 June 1969 was not your correct date of birth, why are you using a Chinese passport that shows your date of birth as 15 June 1969? Or why have you used a Chinese passport that shows your date of birth as 15 June 1969?
9. How did you obtain this passport? What documents were used to obtain this passport (the Chinese passport authorities would have sighted documentation with this date of birth before issuing a passport to you)?
10. What happened to these [other] passports: 144944669; 143080886; 140275129?
11. What dates of birth and names were used in obtaining these passports?
12. Are all the documents you have provided to us in support of your application genuine in every respect? If no, why?
13. Were your travel documents, visas and permits
all obtained legally using genuine documents? If no, why?
14. What dates of birth have you used in your dealings with other government departments and non-government agencies in New Zealand and overseas (for example, banks, Inland Revenue Department, WINZ and LTSA)? Please provide documentary evidence.
15. What names have you used [with the entities
in 14]?
16. How many identities have you used to enter (or depart from) United States of America? If more than one, why?
17. How many identities have you used to enter (or depart from) Australia? If more than one, why?
18. How many identities have you used to enter (or depart from) New Zealand? If more than one, why?
19. How many offshore registered companies do you currently own? If any, where?
20. How many offshore registered companies have you owned? If any, where?
The letter reveals knowledge of at least two international
criminal investigations into Yang Liu, or whoever he really is, and further asks:
“Apart from America and Australia, have you visited
any other country in the last five years? If yes, why were they omitted from your application form?”
Gambo’s letter concludes with a warning that it’s a criminal offence under s27 of the Citizenship Act to “knowingly or recklessly provide a false statement or submit false/forged documents in support of your citizenship application.”

Despite that, Yang Liu is now a New Zealand citizen, having applied to the responsible Minister, Rick Barker. Barker, according to Wishart called for assistance from Shane Jones as he (Barker) was conflicted, knowing Yang Liu presonally. Wishart's story cites Barker as being evasive in response to TGIF's questions, and Jones refusing to answer. Doubtless the machine that is the 9th Floor will be in overdrive to shut this story down and discredit Wishart. Watch this space for developments.

Bugger the polls!

That'll be what Helen Clark is saying this morning when she reads the news that the latest Fairfax Nielsen poll shows Labour heading for a huge defeat in 21 days' time. Here's Tracy Watkins's assessment:

A week into a breakneck election campaign, Labour remains the underdog as a new poll shows it is continuing to trail National.

Today's Fairfax Nielsen poll suggests voters have been largely unmoved by the rapidly unfolding events of recent weeks, including a worsening economic outlook in the wake of the international credit crisis, the big campaign launches on Sunday, the release of National and Labour's economic packages, and the first televised leaders' debate between Labour's Helen Clark and National's John Key.

The poll puts National on 51 per cent and Labour on 33 per cent - figures virtually unchanged from a month ago.

Only the Green Party makes it above the 5 per cent threshold for winning seats in Parliament, rising two points to 7 per cent.

The biggest change has been in the preferred prime minister ratings, with Miss Clark moving up five points to 35 per cent. Mr Key is down two points to 43 per cent.

Mr Key said yesterday that the poll was encouraging, but there was still a long way to go, while Miss Clark made it clear she did not believe the result.

"That doesn't reflect the trend in other recent polls," she said.

She would say that, wouldn't she. This poll makes it pretty clear that change is coming. You can se that when even Tim Shadbolt is going to break the habit of a lifetime and vote National, in Invercargill's best interests. And the last piece of Watkins's story gives a broad hint as to why New Zealand is fed up with Helen Clark and her Labour-led government - she can't resist smearing her opponent:

Miss Clark was scathing yesterday of Mr Key's campaigning style, accusing him of hiding behind National Party stalwarts.

"I'm watching that other campaign - it's all behind closed doors. Sometimes they get brave enough to walk through a shopping mall."

Sorry Helen - you're yesterday's woman.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Friday Forum 17/10/2008

It's Friday, and you know what that means.....

Come one, come all; Keeping Stock's Friday Forum is open for all!

The EFA strikes again

The Law of Unintended Consequences, otherwise known as the Electoral Finance Act is alive and well, and scaring the heck of out everyone. The Dom-Post reports on the position of Access Radio:

Electoral broadcasting rules are under fire after a community radio station balked at airing interviews with local election candidates for fear of being sued.

Access Radio recorded seven of 12 interviews with Kapiti and Mana election candidates last week but decided not to air them.

The station was concerned the interviews could be seen as election advertisements, rather than current affairs, and attract public complaints.

The Kapiti Coast station's manager, Graeme Joyes, said the Electoral Commission could not guarantee that running the interviews was safe and the community station was too small to risk testing the laws in court.

"That's not a street I actually want to walk down. We're the minnows of the radio world and we can't afford a court case."

The electoral rules were too vague on what was classed an election programme and what was current affairs.

"It's a very, very tenuous boundary. It needs a really good cleanup so we have a clear understanding what we can or can't do."

That's bad. It's also ridiculous. But that's not all!! Read this:

Commission spokesman Peter Northcote said it could not give advice to broadcasters and the decision rested with the station.

"We appreciate it may be difficult for the broadcasters [but] it's their call how they manage their risk around that.

Keeping Stock believes that the EFA is working exactly as its proponents planned it to - turning the 2008 campaign into a farce. The fact that all those who supported the EFA have breached it, and to date, have escaped any sanction speaks volumes.

Derek Fox - a perceptive man!

The Dom-Post reports on the televised debate from the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate in Gisborne, and quotes some very tough talking from Derek Fox - who might just have a point:

Maori Party candidate Derek Fox compared PM Helen Clark and his electorate opponent Parekura Horomia with disgraced Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in a television debate over their parts in the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

The 2003 legislation which took away Maori rights to test foreshore and seabed ownership in the courts led to the formation of the Maori Party, and Mr Fox chided Mr Horomia about it during a debate in the vital Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat which was staged by TVNZ7 in Gisborne.

"If Robert Mugabe did what Helen Clark and Parekura Horomia did, Helen Clark would be jumping up and down at the United Nations," Mr Fox said.

"The reality is that this Government, supported by my whanaunga (Mr Horomia), took away our right to go to court to see if we had a right."

The Maori Party says their rights to the foreshore and seabed were never taken away until the current Government legislated it away.

This will be a fascinating contest, and it will be a huge blow to Labour if its Maori Affairs Minister and #5 list candidate is rejected by his own people. Likewise, it is critical to the Maori Party in terms of their aim of taking a sweep of the Maori seats and holding the balance of power. Keeping Stock will watch this battle with interest.

Please, no!

Tom Scott gives us a great cartoon this morning, but Keeping Stock fervently hopes that Helen Clark doesn't see it!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peters as Australia sees him

It hasn't taken long for Winston Peters's anti-immigration comments today to start to get world attention - this from The Age:

New Zealand's suspended foreign minister has turned on China and immigrants as he tries to save his party's political fortunes at elections next month.

In a race-tinged speech, Winston Peters called for a halt to immigration to preserve jobs for New Zealanders and demanded action to prevent Chinese workers entering the country under a bilateral free trade agreement the government "foolishly" signed with Beijing.

Immigrants are attracted to New Zealand "like moths to a neon light" during rough economic times, Peters said, and vowed to address the issue if re-elected.

"Immigration numbers will be cut to ensure Kiwis do not have to compete with immigrants for jobs as our economy goes into decline," Peters said.

Peters, who was suspended in August for involvement in a fraud scandal involving his New Zealand First Party, has used similar rhetoric before to try to win political support.

New Zealand is a Westernised, multicultural country of 4.3 million people, but where certain segments of society are suspicious of immigrants, especially Asians.

Peters' views on immigration have been dismissed by both main parties. But his party has consistently won enough support to deliver him a kingmaker role in New Zealand's often closely matched political fights. He has parlayed that support into senior roles, including treasurer and foreign minister.

You know the election is nigh ...

... when Winston Peters starts making speeches about immigration to Grey Power audiences. Stuff reports on the visit of the underemployed Foreign Minister ('E's not dead; 'e's restin'!) to Nelson today:

NZ First leader Winston Peters, whose fiery outbursts against immigration ruffled feathers in Asia before he was installed as Foreign Minister, returned to his favourite electioneering topic in a speech to Grey Power today.

Mr Peters stood down from his ministerial portfolios while under investigation for failing to declare party donations - meaning there was no longer any need for him to be circumspect in his comments on immigration.

Consequently he was able to return to one of his favourite campaign issues in Nelson this afternoon.

Mr Peters told his audience the government should restrict the number of people moving to New Zealand.

"NZ First is announcing today that immigration numbers will be cut to ensure Kiwis do not have to compete with immigrants for jobs as our economy goes into decline," Mr Peters said.

"We must never return to open door immigration undermining the efforts of New Zealanders trying to find a job in tough times. When times are tough internationally immigrants are attracted to New Zealand like moths to a neon light."

What's that old saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Which one do you trust?

Adam Smith at The Inquiring Mind is very community spirited, and has provided a very good public service this morning. He poses the question - which of the Women in White can be trusted?

Keeping Stock suggests that the answer is simple - neither!

Garth George on Nanny State

As regular Keeping Stock readers will know, we generally enjoy Garth George's Thursday column in the Herald, where he calls things as he sees him. We don't always agree with him, but his unique take on the world is refreshing.

And today, he's on his high horse over Nanny State, and rightly so - he begins:

I don't know whether it's because she's spent all her adult life either in the ivory towers of academia and the rarefied atmosphere of Parliament and the Beehive, or whether she simply lacks any capacity for self-analysis, but Helen Clark seems to have lost touch with reality.

In an interview published on Saturday, she was asked: "How do you respond to people who complain about 'nanny state' and that they are 'sick of Labour telling them how to run their lives'?"

To which she replied: "I can't relate to the criticism at all. It just doesn't square to me with anything we have done. I stand for the maximum possible freedom of people ... I am someone personally who likes to be left free to live my life."

Now that quote of the PM's would be hilarious, if it wasn't so false. Helen Clark's government has imposed itself more on the public will than any government in my not inconsiderable memory. And Garth George agrees:

Well, you could have fooled me. What the Prime Minister is saying, in effect, is that all the hundreds of thousands of people who are thoroughly brassed off with the interference of the state under Labour in personal and family life are imagining things.

Of them she said on the website version of the interview: "I think the people who scream 'nanny state' are usually the ones who want to be the most prescriptive about the way people live their lives."

She has a point. There are numerous bluestocking lobby groups always jumping up and down about various things and insisting we turn the clock back. But those are moral issues and are not what angers people about the nanny state.

What gets up our noses is interference in how we live our lives day by day and is no better illustrated than by the latest insane idea of restricting everyone to showers delivering six litres a minute.

Coming hard on the heels of the decision to force us to use ugly and inefficient light bulbs - I have a gross of incandescent bulbs on order - the shower idea was a step too far, particularly in an election year.

George has really exposed the government's Achilles heel here. And it has hardly surprising that Shane Jones, having received a text from Clark, has backed away from this "proposal" at a great rate of knots. But Keeping Stock believes that the proposal itself should never have been allowed to happen - it was absurd - Nanny State on steroids!

And in deference to his age, George ends with a reflective look to times gone by, before making a final dig at the PM's credibility:

Once upon a time services provided to citizens - electricity, water, health, education, law and order and so on - were tailored to meet the citizens' needs. If demand grew, then supply was increased to meet it.

But these days the state tries to tailor the need to the supply. It is constantly endeavouring to alter people's habits, behaviour and activities to avoid having to supply the needs.

Instead of building new hospitals to meet the health needs of the populace, we spend millions on "preventive" measures and trying to change people's habits.

Instead of building new power stations, the state tries to lower demand, all the while creaming off exorbitant profits.

Instead of building more roads, the state insists on wasting untold millions on promoting and subsidising public transport, building cycleways and suchlike.

And it never works. Human nature, being what it is, is pretty much impervious to such blandishments. We are a selfish lot. We will do what we want when we want.

Helen Clark's insistence that she embraces a philosophy of "live and let live" is about as credible as her picture on Labour's campaign billboards - and the one of me that graces the byline on this column today and for the duration of the election campaign.

A tantrum? Judge for yourself.

Helen Clark has now made two significant mistakes with regard to the OneNews Leaders' Debate. Firstly, she got John Key on board to exclude the other leaders, thinking she could clean him out in a one-on-one contest. Clearly, she failed. Secondly, she has courted scorn and approbrium with her "tantrum" comments made yesterday.

The relative piece of video follows, and the action begins at around the 4 minute 30 second mark.

Judge for yourself, but Keeping Stock doesn't reckon Key looks as though he is throwing a tantrum - he has pulled the PM up on a very valid point (the plan to limit showers), and in our humble opinion, it is Helen Clark who loses her rag, not John Key. Key seems to be smiling and animated, and looks as close to "bursting into tears" as "flying to the moon" as Helen Clark is saying.

Keeping Stock's analysis is that the PM has been twice hoist by her own petard. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

Emmerson's best

It takes a very good cartoon to make me laugh out loud - but Rod Emmerson delivers this morning. This must be one of his very best!

Russel slags off Helen

Just watched an interview of Russel Norman by Paul Henry on Breakfast, Henry's final question referred to the Leaders' Debate:

Henry: "John Key referred to Labour's record on climate change as "atrocious" - do you agree?"

Norman: "Yes"

Oh dear. The PM has extended the hand of MMP kinship to the Greens, but it seems that young Russel may have just bitten the hand that might feed him!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clark shows her true colours

This from the Herald website:

Helen Clark laid into National leader John Key's performance in last night's head to head debate today saying it was lucky he didn't cry and accusing him of having a tantrum.

"The fact he didn't burst out crying on the set probably counted for him," she said during a Radio Live question and answer session this morning.

Later in the day she didn't resile from her criticism telling reporters that expectations around Mr Key's performance before the debate were low and; "the fact he didn't collapse with a stress attack on the set probably gave him marks".

The two party leaders performed well in the debate, watched by 1.1 million New Zealanders, but because Mr Key was less experienced but did a good enough job to turn around a flat few days for National he was deemed by some to be the winner.

TVNZ's phone poll declared him ahead by a long way.

Miss Clark said the poll was worthless as it was self-selecting and there was a charge.

And what did Clark have to say about THAT comment?

At one point Miss Clark made a comment that Mr Key may shout at home but he wouldn't shout her down.

Today she said she was not accusing him of yelling at his family.

"What I meant was he was having a tantrum he was completely out of control trying to shout me down..."

Whatever Helen, whatever...


The list of Party Lists is now available for public consumption, nominations having closed at noon today.

I guess that NZ First President and list MP Dail Jones will be feeling aggrieved today, given that he can only make #14 on NZ First's list of superstars (ah, that last bit was intended as sarcasm). I guess that putting the weights up Winston over the $100k that either did or didn't appear in NZ First's bank account has led to him being shafted by The Baubleator, and is no reflection on his ability. After all, Peter Brown and Doug Woollerton are still in the top four, which pretty much says it all!!

Vale NZ First!!!

A secret agenda? Who us??

Just imagine if the boot was on the other foot. Just imagine if National was to say - "We have a plan, but we're not going to tell you what it is, we're not going to tell you how much it's going to cost, and what's more, we're going to borrow to make it happen".

We all know what would happen - the air would be thick with choruses of "secret agenda", "slippery John", "borrow for tax cuts" etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

And yet that is exactly what Labour plans to do - this from today's Herald:

Labour is designing a potentially large spending plan to stimulate the economy - but will not say before the election how much it might spend or how much it might add to Government debt.

The move is part of Labour's bid to seize the economic initiative in the election campaign with policies addressing the global financial crisis and its fallout.

But as Labour talks of a mini-Budget in December and the bringing forward of infrastructure spending if it wins the election, it is not telling voters the financial implications of its short-term measures.

And Helen Clark has the bare-faced cheek to tell us that "This is an election about trust"!


Lee at Monkeys With Typewriters is well-known for a very cutting sense of humour. And he's used that today with his "tribute" to Barry Soper, and his inclusion of a new word - Sopered - into our vocabulary. Great stuff, and well worth a visit!