Friday, February 27, 2009


If we needed proof that the justice system in New Zealand has swung in favour of the offender, read this from the Herald:

Name and image suppression has been continued for a teenager accused of the brutal bashing of war veteran Eric Brady in South Auckland last week.

Mr Brady was hospitalised for several days after being bashed while getting into his car outside the Papatoetoe RSA on February 18.

Name and image suppression was due to expire today for the 18-year-old from the east Auckland suburb of Pt England.

It was continued after his lawyer Amit Malik argued in Manukau District Court that it would compromise his right to a fair trial.

The accused denied attacking Mr Brady and that while identity was an issue it was unfair to reveal either his name or his image, Mr Malik said.

Judge Gus Andree Wiltens agreed, rejecting prosecution arguments that his right to a fair trial would not be compromised if only image suppression was granted.

The judge said he was concerned that potential jurors could search for images of the accused on the internet if his name was revealed, thus rendering the image suppression irrelevant.

We reckon that is an appalling decision from Judge Gus Andree Wiltens. The accused's reason for applying for suppression when he first appeared at the weekend was that so he could inform family. No wonder people question the justice system!

The Friday Forum - 27/2/09

Goodness, another month is nearly gone. As we type this, Bill English is talking about debt levels, so we are conscious of the speed at which we type; hotel internet costs and all that. But it is a glorious morning in Wellington, and from our desk, we have a wonderful view of the harbour just across the road. There's barely a puff of breeze, and the rowing crews on the harbour have calm waters to practice in.

So, after that scene-setting, welcome to the Friday Forum! You know the rules - there really aren't any!! We'll be popping in intermittently, but with work, catching up with Inventory Jnr (and probably having to feed our impoverished student son!!), and the cricket this evening (no separate thread sorry pdm - we can comment here), a busy day awaits in the Harbour Capital.

Over to you!

Jobs Summit #2

We rather like this reminder from Rod Emmerson that today is a Do-fest, not a Talk-fest!

Jobs Summit

Well, the day has arrived, and it will be interesting to see what comes out of today's Jobs Summit. The Herald editorial this morning is pertinent:

Today's "jobs summit" is not a crisis meeting; it is a pre-emptive response to the risk of unemployment. Participants need to remember that. Serious unemployment in New Zealand remains a prediction, not a fact, and the predictions vary. They do not warrant panic measures or proposals that would put the economy out of kilter for a long time after the world's financial system has been repaired.

That's a good point. The government's opponents have suggested that Key's men and women have been lax in their responses to date, but we reckon the balance is pretty good. And we reckon the leader writer nails it with these words:

Today's discussion needs to be mindful that the global crisis will change this economy like others. Those with high current account deficits, like ours, have already seen a drastic fall in their exchange rates. The financial system will probably settle at a better balance between creditor and debtor countries, leaving our dollar at current levels. That means labour and capital will be drawn away from domestic services and into exportable products, including tourism.

Suggestions at the jobs summit need to assist this change not ignore or, worse, try to resist it. The labour market is never static, some jobs should not be preserved.

The challenge today is to distinguish between the jobs that will not return and those that will be needed when financial transmission is restored, hungry markets recover and opportunities abound.

Let's all hope for positive outcomes today.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Off to Wellington

We're off to Wellington for a couple of nights for a few meetings, a job interview (what recession - we're hiring!), a seminar on Saturday, and of course, cricket at the Cake Tin tomorrow night when the day's work is done.

There will be some blogging though, dependant on whether the bank approves our loan application to pay for the hotel internet connection, or whether we can get a Cafe Net signal at a much more affordable rate.

Stay tuned; you never know where we might pop up!


The Herald website has a headline this morning that must be concealed from Mrs Inventory at all cost!! It reads:

Experts' tip - Now's the time to buy a house

An outbreak of freedom

That's how Garth George describes the environment in New Zealand since the change of government in his column this morning. Noting the decision to remove the arbitary retsrictions on school tuckshops, George opines:

I hope this action by the Government signals a return to an emphasis on personal responsibility and doing away with other objectionable nanny state shackles imposed on us by the Labour-Green ideologues.

I have long had a gutsful of the state telling me how I should live my life, but more than that I fear for a people who, no matter what problem arises, insist that the Government should do something about it.

It never seems to occur to these people that 99 times out of 100 the solution in is their own hands, and it is they who must take responsibility for doing something about it.

It's hard to disagree with any of the opinions expressed in those three paragraphs, nor this gem that follows:

Another major gripe I have with these food freaks, and the unthinking journalists who aid and abet them, is their dishonesty in labelling foods they don't approve of as "unhealthy".

Apart from that which is poisoned, polluted or has gone off, there is no such thing as unhealthy food. What is unhealthy is overindulgence in certain types of food, all of which are perfectly healthy if eaten in moderation.

Amen to that Garth George. As regular readers will know, Keeping Stock reckons that too many people dismioss George's opinions because of his age. When he speaks common-sense as he has this morning (not common-sense of the Annette King variety!), we ignore it at our peril.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First blood ... the Black Caps in the 20/20 match at Christchurch tonight. After a blazing start from Sehwag with three sixes from the first three balls he faced, the Indians stuttered their way to 162-7 off their 20 overs.

The New Zealand reply was solid rather than spectacular with Guptill, Taylor and Oram all contributing, and Brendon McCullum batting through the innings, and in a much more responsible manner for 56 not out to anchor the win. Oram ended the match with an over to spare with a six over extra cover.

OK, it was only the hit-and-giggle game tonight, but a win is a win is a win!

Indian Summer begins

We were excited about last summer's cricket tour by the English, possibly more because of the atmosphere at the games with the influx of English supporters than the onfield prospects. However we are excited about the Indian tour for cricket reasons alone.

The Indians have shown their respect for New Zealand cricket by bring a full-strength side, chock-full of cricketing superstars - Sehwag, Gambhier, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman Dhoni, Yuraj Singh, Habarjan Singh - all world-class players. A feast of cricket awaits us over the next six weeks or so, beginning with the 20/20 match in Christchurch this evening.

And although Mrs Inventory and I have worked this week's schedule around going to the match in Wellington on Friday night, it is the three test matches that we are really looking forward to. Test match cricket is REAL cricket. And Keeping Stock reckons that the Black Caps, if they have a good run with injuries, will surprise. They'll have taken some confidence from their performances in Australia, and we don't believe that they will lay down for the Indians, especially if the autumnal conditions favour swing and seam bowling. And bear this in mind - for all their talent, the Indians haven't won a test series here since 1968. A fascinating series awaits.

Three words sum up our sense of anticipation of this series - bring it on!

Cullen's legacy

A brilliant Emmerson cartoon from last year. No additional commentary is required from us!

Zimbabwe tour postponed

We've just heard that the Black Caps' tour to Zimbabwe has been postponed by agreement between the CEO's of NZ Cricket and the Zimbabwe Cricket. Bloody good show.

We don't want the Black Caps going anywhere near Zimbabwe in Robert Mugabe's lifetime. We would have been quite happy for the government to take whatever steps were needed to stop the tour, uinlike our favourite sickly liberal Brian Rudman who produced yet another bleeding heart piece in today's Herald. Oh how he projects the hurt and rejection that the left must be feeling since the election!

Another one bites the dust

The Dom-Post is reporting that Michael Cullen is set to quit politics, and that he will be going sooner rather than later:

Former finance minister Michael Cullen is expected to quit politics in the next two months.

Dr Cullen has made no secret of his plans to leave Parliament this term, after stepping down as deputy Labour leader after last year's election defeat, but has so far not set a date.

The former leader of the House had said he would stay to help pass on his knowledge of Parliament's procedures to his colleagues.

Labour leader Phil Goff declined to comment yesterday.

But party sources said Dr Cullen's departure was imminent, and would certainly be before the May 28 Budget.

"My gut feeling is it is sooner rather than later. He said he would be around for a while to get our feet under the desk. The next couple of months wouldn't be out of the bounds of possibility," one MP said.

Asked about his plans, and the suggestion he would quit soon, Dr Cullen said: "I have no comment to make at the moment."

So, with the likelihood that Phil Twyford is going to get the Mount Albert nomination when Helen Clark retires, that's two spots Labour needs to fill from its list. So who's next in line? First up is Damian O'Connor, followed by Judith Tizard! Keeping Stock vebntures to suggest that the Labour Party hierarchy will have a devil's own job persuading Tizard to stand aside, given her reported comments recently that employment was hard to come by.

Whilst we have no truck for Cullen's politics, we will miss his contributions to the proceedings of the House. His knowedge of procedural matters is second to none, he is a strong speaker, and can every now and then be extremely funny. But will will not let that cloud our judgement on his economic record. He bled us dry, and rather than being remembered for his economic stewardship as he hoped he would be, his legacy will be the decade of deficits we now face, and a rusting train set.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The camera never lies

Why does our media have to perpetuate myths? The photographs above are currently on the Stuff website accompanying a poll about the Greens' leadership. And incidentially, of the four options in the poll "I don't care about the Greens" is a runaway leader! But we presume the photograph on the left is Sue Bradford. However the photograph below is also of Sue Bradford - can you spot the difference? It's like the Labour Party billboards - deja vu all over again!

Yet another promise kept

In 1978, Muldoon's National Party campaigned on the slogan "We're keeping our word", based on the record they established in their first three years in office. The 2008 election winners could we adopt the same phrase!

It's not quite 100 days since the new government was sworn in and took office, and we've had a hiatus over the Christmas/New Year holidays, but there has been a steady stream of policy announcements. And there is yet another tick in the Election Promise Kept column today, with the announcement of funding for the 24/7 Plunketline service. The Herald reports:

Plunketline this morning got confirmation of a $3.75 million grant to keep its 24-hour helpline going.

The Health Ministry ended public funding for the Plunket-operated well-child phone service in April 2006 in favour of McKesson New Zealand, which operates Healthline and successfully tendered for an integrated service.

Plunket then collected 53,000 signatures calling for funding to be restored but Cabinet did not support a re-think.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said today the extended service was being funded through a grant of $3.75 million over 15 months to the end of March next year ($3 million per annum). By that time, a review of well-child parent information programmes will have been completed and new contracting arrangements would be in place, he said.

Fast tracking funding for Plunketline was one of the National Party's commitments for its first 100-days of being in power.

On all fronts, it's a positive outcome. Plunket is delighted with Ryall's announcement describing it as a "great day for New Zealand families", the government gets a lot of bang (and a lot of feel-good publicity) for a relatively small spend, and National can enjoy a self-satisfied smile for another promise kept, especially when it reverses a decision taken by the last government. They are indeed keeping their word, and Keeping Stock applauds them for it.

Blackout montage

Tumeke monitored the Great New Zealand Internet Black-out yesterday, and created this montage of how the top 50 in the NZ blogosphere were looking at 10.30am. Follow the link to get an enlarged version of the montage. Keeping Stock is pleased to have been included!

And as the Tumeke crew notes:

This image may be of use to bloggers to give some idea of the solidarity. It is free to copy, use and share... unlike things made by Hollywood.

Big hat-tip: Tumeke

Clark going soon?

The Herald is reporting that former PM (we love saying that!!!) Helen Clark is in New York for discussions with the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon. The story says:

Former prime minister Helen Clark arrived in New York last night for interviews over a top United Nations (UN) posting.

Helen Clark is applying for a position to head the UN Development Programme and a spokesman from her office this morning confirmed she had been shortlisted.

She was due to hold talks with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

Prime Minister John Key has said Miss Clark's bid for the job would come with full endorsement from the Government.

It is understood the UN position is being hotly contested by international candidates.

We wish her the best; really, we do!!

Under the spotlight

Nice work by Rod Emmerson this morning with his Oscar-themed reflection on Jeanette Fitzsimons' decision to retire.

Granny fisked - again

Oh dear - the Herald's off-shore sub-editors are in the gun again. Only last night Adolf Fiinkensein at No Minister caught them out over John Key and Act's "three strikes" policy. Adolf scored a direct hit, and the headline on the online story was changed.

And now another! The main story on the Herald's website right now says:

Nattional stalls law to block internet pirates

What a load of bollocks. Yesterday's protest, which the story was about, was nothing to do with legitimising internet piracy. Pretty much every blog I visited yesterday said the same thing - we do NOT support copyright violation.

Yesterday's protest was about fairness. And it would seem that the government has agreed that it is NOT fair for an ISP to act as judge, jury and executioner, without giving the accused a trial. Perhaps a New Zealand-based subbie would have known that!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Section 92A reviewed

Great news. The minor inconvenience of a Black-out this morning has worked. Homepaddock has given us a heads-up that the coming-into-law of Section 92A of the Copyright Act has been delayed. The Herald carries the story, saying:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the controversial Section 92A law, which has been widely condemned by internet users, is to be delayed.

It will go on hold until March 27 while work is carried out on a voluntary code of practice.

If no solution is reached by then it will be suspended.

Earlier today political bloggers from all sides of the political fence took blogs down to protest Section 92A of the Copyright Act.

Thank goodness. We have a government that is prepared to concede that the law passed by the 48th Parliament was bad law, and do something about it. And it once again proves just what an effective lobby group the blogosphere has become.

And to celebrate, we have reverted to our pre-Blackout colour scheme!

Can the Greens survive?

So, the worst-kept political secret of the year so far is out. Jeanette Ftizsimons will be leaving Parliament in June, leaving the Greens looking for a new female co-leader. And therein lies a problem for the Greens.

In their fervent desire to be all things to all people, they have the bizarre rule that the leadership must be shared between one male and one female. That was fine while Rod Donald and Fitzsimons were around, moderates both. Bit the Greens are in grave danger of capture by the hard (and hardened) left.

The Greens have four options from their caucus - Sue Bradford, Meteria Turei, Sue Kedgely and Catherine Delahunty, their newest MP. You'd have to say that they aren't spoiled for choice! Bradford is a known Marxist, and will forever carry the burden of the incredibly unpopular anti-smacking legislation she foistered upon us. Meteria Turei is seen as a future star, but her profile on the Greens' website describes her thus:

The youngest of the Green MPs, Metiria was elected to Parliament in 2002 after a colourful career spanning resource management law, anarcho-feminist performance, political internship with the ALCP and the McGillicuddies and unemployed rights activism. "My personal political journey has led me to the reasonable conclusion that the present state has no legitimacy and that it must ultimately be transformed into a system which implements Te Tiriti o Waitangi."
ALCP - that's the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party isn't it? Hmmm. Sue Kedgely is going to carry the Food Police label for the rest of her days, and anyone who endured Ms Delahunty's maiden speech a couple of weeks ago will have an opinion as to her prospects!

So it seems that the Greens might have a problem in the future presenting themselves as a moderate party with a genuine concern for the environment. There's a reason for that. They aren't! Since the election of Russel Norman to the bloke half of the leadership, the Greens have moved further to the left. Perhaps it's time for the Greens to be honest about what they REALLY stand for - after all, that infamous brochure from the 2005 election campaign has never actually been dismissed as a fiction.

Back up again

OK - it seems as though the intent of the Great New Zealand Internet Blackout was a half-day protest, so here we are again. But we might just leave the background black for a while, until we find out what the government's response is to what has been a well-supported protest today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Black is the new blog!

Yep, we're flippin' anarchists aren't we! There will be no new content on Keeping Stock today, Monday 23 February 2009 during the hours of daylight. We, like many of our kindred blogs are blacked out in opposition to the guilt by association law. We do not support of breaches of copyright. Our protest is aimed at section 92a and 92c of the Copyright Ammendment Act which are bad law and which will come in to force next Saturday February 28 unless the government acts. Have a read of what follows:

From the Creative Freedom Foundation website:

NZ Political Bloggers To Blackout Websites 23 Feb in S92A Protest.

On Monday morning bloggers from across the political spectrum will be taking their blogs down in an “Internet Blackout” to protest the coming into force on the 28th of S92A of the Copyright Act.

Scores and scores of bloggers will be taking part, including Public Address, Scoop, Kiwiblog, Keeping Stock, The Standard, No Right Turn, Frog Blog, Whale Oil, Not PC, No Minister, Just Left, The Hand Mirror, Roar Prawn, Policy Net, Kiwi Politico etc etc. Supporters of almost every political party are taking part – National, Labour, Greens, ACT, Alliance, and Libertarianz,

To say we represent a diverse range of views is putting it mildly. Normally we disagree on everything. Even e=mc^2 can be regarded as a highly debatable proposition on our blogs.

So for us to all unite together, from across the political spectrum, to condemn S92A of the Copyright Act should send a signal asto how bad the law is. A law which can see people lose their Internet access on the basis of unproven allegations should have no place in the New Zealand statute books.

We don’t care who voted for the law in the first place. We just want it stopped. We call on either Parliament to repeal that section or for the Government to delay it from coming into force on 28 February.

The normal content on our blogs will be made inaccessible on Monday morning, and our blogs will refer people to the online petition organized by the Creative Freedom Foundation.

In addition to these political blogs, thousands of other websites including Scoop News, PublicAddress.Net, Throng, GeekZone, and Street Talk are also joining the Internet Blackout.



For more information please contact:Bronwyn Holloway-Smith,
Director, Creative Freedom Foundation
+ 64 21 1075747


The Creative Freedom Foundation was founded in 2008 by artists and technologists Bronwyn Holloway-Smith and Matthew Holloway in response to changes in copyright law and the effect these changesare having on creativity, the economy, and public rights. The CFF represent thousands of New Zealand artists including musicians, film makers, visual artists, designers, writers, & performers .

Yep. We oppose this law. This bad law. This stupid law. And unless the government votes at Cabinet today to defer the coming-into-law of Section 92A, this is all you'll see on Keeping Stock today. See you on Tuesday ...

Danny Lee - golfing sensation

We knew there was something we forgot to do this afternoon before we went out - we forgot to flick the MySky on to see how Danny Lee fared in the European PGA Tour's Johnnie Walker Classic at Perth. So how did he do? Very well, very well indeed!

He won the tournament by one shot, in the process becoming the youngest player ever to win on the European Tour. Because he is retaining his amateur status until after the US Masters in April, he didn't earn a single cent today - something that will delight the rest of the field, as the $A460,000 prize money he would have won will be redistributed! However, he does earn a two-year exemption onto the European, Asian and Australasian Tours - absolute manna from heaven for a fledgling pro.

Danny Lee is a class act. He has the world of golf at his feet, and the equipment and apparel sponsors will be waving their chequebooks at him. And of course, he's now officially a Kiwi, having been granted NZ citizenship late last year.

Suddenly, we're pretty darned excited about the future onf New Zealand golf!

Myth "exploded"

Apart from wondering whether a bored and/or michievious sub-editor was having some fun with the headline "Women's farting myth exploded", we had a laugh over this story from David Fisher in today's Herald on Sunday - read it for yourself:

One of the great myths of the sexes - celebrated in a Tui billboard reading "Chicks never fart" has been exploded.

The study of digestive health has found that 45 per cent of women experienced gas at least two to three times a week. And if it's news to you, that's because women just don't talk about it.

Only 12 per cent of women are likely to tell their friends they're experiencing some sort of discomfort, even though three-quarters feel embarrassment when it strikes during social situations.

The survey of almost 600 women was carried out by Anchor's low-fat probiotic yoghurt brand Symbio, which is promoting a 14-day programme to reduce digestive problems.

And we had a particular chuckle over the story's concluding paragraphs - the mental imagery of a finishing school teaching women to beak wind in a lady-like manner....

Sue McCarty, chief executive of the Auckland-based Via finishing school, said it was a "complete myth women don't pass wind".

The school, described by Britain's Daily Mail as "perhaps the most exclusive finishing school in the world", included digestion problems as part of its programme.

The key to avoiding problems was a good diet, exercise and a moderate alcohol intake.

For those suffering, her advice was: Better out than in. She said women here had less to be concerned about. "We're in New Zealand, remember.

"Lots more things are acceptable here than in other cultures."

Better out than in - advice we males have known all along!!

Help please!

Keeping Stock wants to join the legion of blogs that will be participating in the Great Internet Blackout tomorrow. We've been to the Creative Freedom site, downloaded a banner, blacked out our Twitter profile, but have yet to find out how to disable Keeping Stock in without vanishing completely! Can anyone help?

Lateral thinking

We read the story in the Herald, and applied a little lateral thinking. Police impounded 67 "boy-racer" cars in Christchurch overnight, predominantly for unpaid fines.

Back in the days when we (me, myself and I) worked in the Courts (pre-1980) fines were collected by bailiffs. We guess the term "bailiff" is no longer PC enough for the public service, what with its rather Dickensian connotations. Anyway, why doesn't the Court system sell off its fleet of cars - nondescript "public service" cars, and build up a fleet of confiscated "boy-racer" cars for its bailiffs (We'll continue to use that term, 'cos we can't think of anything better!).

Just imagine - a boy-racer and his mates just chillin' out at home, and they hear the "doof, doof, doof" of a sub-woofer, then there's a knock on the door. Fines are demanded, and the burly bailiff throws in a hint that the vehicle fleet is getting a bit depleted, and if ready cash is not provided tout-suite, the boy-racer's pride and joy will be towed down to the Courthose to join the fleet. Might that just be the impetus needed to extract money owed to the state? Or does anyone have a better suggestion?

Ralston reflects ...

Bill Ralston reflects on this week's 3News poll, and the extended honeymoon that the elctorate is giving John Key and his National-led government. He begins:

Six months ago Labour was constantly telling us that John Key was weak, untrustworthy and devious, while his National Party was little more than a bunch of washed-up hacks, bereft of ideas and vision. "Slippery John". "It's all about trust". Those were Labour's chants.

It was a strategy aimed at destroying Key's credibility and it almost worked but, despite their suspicions, enough voters closed their eyes, crossed their fingers and put their ticks on the ballot paper for National.

Having now discovered those fears were groundless we seem to be giving National the longest honeymoon any government has enjoyed.

He's right on the first count. Labour's scaremongering over Key and National's secret right-wing agenda has come to nowt. And he points to the fact that National is strangely enjoying a higher approval rating than their actual level of support. Yes, even some of those those who could not bring themselves to support National in the 3News poll grudgingly admitted that National's performance was either "strong" or "very strong"!

That has to be a huge worry for Labour, as National completes its first 100 days in office, and proudly displays the checklist of election promises kept. The last box ticked was, of course, the legislation to simplify the Resource Management Act, introduced on Thursday, upon which Ralston reflects further:

Take, for example, Nick Smith's revamping of the unbelievably bureaucratic Resource Management Act. Before Christmas I decided to get rid of an ugly, stunted, exotic box elder tree at the bottom of my garden that was strangling a native nikau and a couple of other palm trees.

The guy who does our garden brought around an arborist who told me he could not fell the damn thing without a resource consent. I wrote a cheque and several weeks later a man from the Auckland City Council with a clipboard came around and stared long and hard at the offending tree.

Yes, he would recommend we could cut it down. More weeks passed and eventually a long document arrived from the Regulatory Planning Department of Auckland City Environments saying we had been granted consent.

The tree feller came, cut it down and removed it in 30 minutes.

Thanks to Nick Smith, once his changes to the RMA go through, I will never again have to apply for a Resource Consent to trim my garden, the council will not have to spend many hours pondering my botanical behaviour and the ratepayers of Auckland will not be wasting hundreds of dollars every time someone in this city wants to do some gardening.

Of course, sooner or later, National will put a foot wrong and the tide of public opinion will turn but, sadly for Phil Goff, there is no sign of that happening any time soon.

Ah, Phil Goff eh - the interim leader of the Labour Party. We wonder who hosted the BBQ's this weekend.

Good news ...

From the Good News file - South Auckland Police have arrested n 18 year-old youth and charged him with the cowardly attack on 85 year-old Eric Brady outside the Papatoetoe RSA on Wednesday.

That;s a good start to the day!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who is this lowlife?

Who is this scumbag, believed to be the assailant of 85 year-old WWII veteran Eric Brady? It's a long-shot, but who knows who reads blogs. We will be encouraging other bloggers to upload the picture of this low-life, in the hope that the Police might get to him before the RSA guys do!
On second thoughts, maybe it WOULD be better if the veterans had the first crack!
UPDATE: Thanks to Scrubone for running with this - likewise to WhaleOil - thanks people!

Deja vu all over again

We hate having to go on about Corrections, but this story from Phil Taylor in today's Herald is a must-read. It would appear that Barry Matthews has "previous", as they say in crime and punishment circles:

It would come as no great surprise to Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews to find himself being elbowed towards the door by a politician.

Mr Matthews, 62, has been there before.

In the last year of his previous job, commissioner of the Western Australia police, he was privately asked to resign by the state's police minister.

That's not too dissimilar to his current predicament - Corrections Minister Judith Collins calling for his head after a damning audit report this week.

It comes with the territory.

Consider this: "Inquiries and apologies are not enough. It is time for [the Corrections chief] to accept that his lack of responsible leadership
has put the community at risk. It is time for Mark Byers to resign."

Mark Byers was Mr Matthews' predecessor as Corrections CEO, and the quote is from a 2002 press statement by New Zealand First MP Ron Mark in which Mr Mark said, "I didn't think Corrections could get any worse."

Mr Byers didn't resign. A longtime public servant, he retired three years later after nine years at the helm (he was appointed in 1995 when Corrections was set up as a stand-alone department).

Mr Matthews refused to fall on his sword in Western Australia. The police minister's request for him to go followed a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into corruption in the state's police force which found pockets of rot, but nothing comparable to revelations in Queensland and New South Wales.

Mr Matthews, who yesterday ruled out resigning as head of Corrections, has said he didn't quit in Western Australia because the request to do so didn't relate to his performance and because he wasn't a quitter.

We wonder if Mr Matthews will be reading this Herald story today, and pondering the irony of it all!


Here's Josh Te Tua, father of murdered Wanganui child Jhia Te Tua outside the High Court in Wellington yesterday, completed with his Black Power patch. We reckon he is as guilty of the murder of his daughter as the Mongrel Mob thugs who were senetenced yesterday. What do YOU reckon?

Armstrong on Matthews

We seem to be devoting an inordinate amount of space to the impending demise of Corrections head Barry Matthews, but we reckon it's justified. So does John Armstrong, judging by his column in the Herald this morning when he says:

The public relations campaign Barry Matthews mounted to hold on to his job as the head of the Corrections Department is added reason why he should lose it.

His going public yesterday has made his position even more untenable - if that is possible - than it was after Tuesday's damning report from the Auditor-General which raised concerns public safety was at risk because of Corrections' failure to properly monitor offenders on parole.

Coming on top of a catalogue of mistakes and blunders by the department, the report alone was enough to raise serious questions about Matthews remaining as chief executive.

We concur. It was an extraordinary performance from Matthews yesterday, seemingly oblivious to the contempt with which his Minister viewed his performance. It certainly pointed to a man with an over-inflated opinion of his worth to the department and to the government; likewise a man who seems incapable of admitting wrong-doing.

As we are all aware, a Minister cannot simply dismiss a CEO, and herein lies Judith Collins' problem. Noting that she has pushed the boundaries about as far as she can, Armstrong concludes:

Her next move hinges on the commission's reply to her letter. If Rennie deems Matthews' performance as chief executive as not warranting his removal, she really has little political choice but to tell Rennie she can no longer work with Matthews.

That does not square with her yesterday making conciliatory noises towards Matthews. However, she may have been simply ensuring she was seen as being fair to him.

Regardless, she is likely to seek Cabinet approval before delivering any ultimatum to the commission. She does not wish to be seen to be flying solo. She also wants to avoid the impression all this bother is simply a personality clash, when it is really a necessary first step in transforming Corrections' mindset of failure into what she extravagantly calls a "culture of excellence".

That is the bottom line. Matthews has been seen as an obstacle by successive Corrections Ministers to that happening. If he doesn't go, Collins will not only be seen as weak and a blowhard, she will be seen as losing a crucial battle and thus losing control of her portfolio. That is an image no minister can allow to take hold.

Again, we concur. But Matthews going public yesterday will, we believe strengthen Collins' position rather than his. Up until yesterday, people had only heard or read about Matthews. Last night we all saw him defending the indefensible, keeping on digging as Armstrong put it.

We await the next move.

All's fair ... love and war, so they say. At least that's what Adam Parore argues in his column in this morning's Herald.

Parore was no stranger to controversy during his playing days, and he's bound to get the tongues wagging with his suggestion to doctor the pitches for the upcoming Indian series. India doesn't have a good record in New Zealand, and hasn't won a series here for more than 40 years. Their batsmen have always struggled on seamer-friendly New Zealand green-tops, as Parore notes:

They have been ambushed to a degree on previous tours, however, playing late in the year when our pitches are still green and batting much more difficult.

I won't say we doctored the conditions, but we have certainly ensured that they were in our favour.

And hey, all is fair in love and war, and of course the reverse applies when we tour India.

Unlike previous visits however, the conditions have dried out more at this time of year and batting is easier which will suit the Indians.

There are a couple of choices here. We can either turn this tour into an Indian batting display for the rest of the world to savour, or else we can ensure the conditions suit our side. For my money, the sprinklers should be on already, and I'm sure they are.

We have mixed feelings on this one. As cricket purists, we would lov to see a run-feast this summer, especially when it is highly likely that we won't see the likes of Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid on our pitches again. But we are also highly parochial, and dead keen to see the Black Caps claw their way back up the ICC rankings. We do note however that given the plethora of warm, humid weather of late, God may just be a Black Caps supporter!

Corrections from within

Fellow blogger Oswald Bastable has spent time on the payroll the Corrections Department. In this post, he offers an insider's input into the malaise affecting the department. We took particular note of this:

As with so many government departments, I spent more time ticking checklists than actually out doing the job. Stuff like walking the wing stopping shit from happening. That wasn't considered important.

So, as I often say- if one bitches, one should offer a solution. Here it is.

Can the national headquarters staff- at least everybody who has never done time on the floor. Out with policymakers, trick cyclists and university wankers.

Nobody gets into management without serving their time and going up through the ranks. This was the case once. Would you put civilians into the top ranks of the army?- madness.

The great liberal experiment was to 'soften' the prison service. They decided that it was too authoritarian (FFS!), so uniforms were changed and anything with a military theme, such as parading, badges of rank and service-type discipline were removed.With that mistake can the deluded idea that inmates need education ahead of work. So funds were diverted from staff to supervise work details to airy-fairy programs teaching fuckwits full of their own self importance to have more self-esteem!

What they really needed, as was understood by those with a practical bent, was to know work. To understand that they got up in the morning, work hard for a full day, then get up and do it again tomorrow.They also learnt that consequences were swift and unpleasant. A hiding down the block and a fortnight on lettuce soup.

Now they learn their friggin' rights!

This is a very perceptive piece from Oswald, who describes himself thus: "My opinions on matters of the day that, generally, have pissed me off. Being described as a 'Surly Curmudgeon', by those who meet me on a good day. I have a poor regard for the human species, in general." And he's dead right about the "liberal experiment" - it has been a plague on all our houses! Oswald Bastable is well worth a few minutes of your time today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sack him!

The Herald reports that Barry Matthews, the CEO of Corrections is refusing to resign. The two quotes below will alert readers as to why Keeping Stock believes that the State Services Commissioner should sack him.

Reason #1:

Mr Brady examined 100 parole cases, including 52 high-risk offenders, and reported that in most of them the correct procedures were not followed.

Staff did not even carry out some of the special provisions brought in after parolee Graeme Burton murdered Karl Kuchenbecker in January 2007.

But Mr Matthews told reporters this morning he was doing the best he could and wanted to stay on to drive change in the department.

He said his department had a difficult job to do reaching more stringent standards and monitoring parole after the Graeme Burton case, but it did not have enough resources.

Mr Matthews said the department needed a "step change" and he was "committed to staying on" and driving that change through.

Wrong answer Mr Matthews! You gave the previous Minister an assurance that change would happen in Corrections if you stayed on. You did,. It didn't. The Auditor-General's report makes that abundantly clear.

Reason #2:

He said he did not have "any fears" about what the State Services Commissioner would find in his investigation of who was responsible for the Auditor-General's report.

Mr Matthews also said he did not believe Ms Collins had been trying to get rid of him.

What??!! If Barry Matthews does not believe that Judith Collins wants him gone, when she has pointedly refused to express confidence in him, he must inhabit a parallel universe. He had the chance to stand aside; he declined to take it. Iain Rennie must call his bluff, and soon.

Tiger's back!

The rumours are true. It's been confirmed that Tiger Woods will make his much-anticipated return to competitive golf next week at the wgc Accenture Matchplay Championship, where he will be defending his 2008 title against the next-best 63 golfers in the world. His knee is right, baby Charlie (above) has arrived safely, and the purses on the PGA Tour are about to get spread a little more thinly among his fellow professionals.

Adam Smith at The Inquiring Mind also posted about Tiger this morning, but this news has superceded the linking post that we were going to do. Steve Williams will be delighted as well, but we are personally disappointed as we were planning on playing at the Steve Williams tournament here in Wanganui in two weeks time, which has now been postponed until the boss has another holiday.

Having won the US Open on one leg last year, who would bet against Tiger returning to the winner's circle next week?

The Friday Forum - 20/2/09

It's Friday again, and a wet one at that. It's also been an early start in the Invemtory whare, with Mrs Inventory heading north at a most unsociable hour. Such are the joys of self-employment!!

Anyway, come in out of the rain (very steady here as I type this), and join the forum. This is YOUR place to come an vent your spleen, rant and rave to your heart's content, and no-one will condemn you! We reckon there's plenty to discuss, but YOU set the agenda here, not us - so rip into it!

Who's telling porkies?

We once saw Clayton Cosgrove at Christchurch Airport. He's not a big lad - some may even suggest he suffers from Short Man's Syndrome - but that didn't stop the swagger on the day he pushed past us.

Where are we going with this? Well, the Herald reports that Cosgrove yesterday accused Judith Collins of headline-grabbing over the Barry Matthews case. Cosgrove claimed that the SSC had yesterday asked Matthews to resign in return for a "sweetheart deal". How would he know? Was he there? Did Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner tell him? Did Barry Matthews tell him? Or was he himself headline-grabbing, and making it up? We'll let you be the judge of that.
Meantime, Barry Matthews is fronting the media today. We hope it's to utter three words - "I'm off folks".

Well done NZ Breakers

We thoroughly enjoyed the NZ Breakers' convincing 131-101 victory over the Adelaide 36ers in the ANBL playoffs last night. They now face the Melbourne Tigers next week in a best-of-three semi-final series - two away games and one at home.
The equation is simple for the Breakers. To make the finals, they need to win at home, and take a match off the Tigers on the road. And you'd have to be cautiously optimistic - they beat the Tigers in Melbourne back in November, and if they can reproduce the form they showed at times last night, anything is possible.
We have just one question. While Maori TV is to be commended for its "almost-live" coverage of all the Breakers' home games, why, in the absence of pay-TV coverage in New Zealand, can't the play-off matches be shown live?

In a perfect world

The Herald's editorial this morning is an excellent summation of the government's dilemma over the Black Caps' forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe. And this paragraph goes right to the heart of the matter:

In a perfect world, governments would not be in the business of delivering such dictates to private sporting bodies. Preventing sports people from playing internationally and fulfilling their contractual obligations is a serious matter. But the latter requirement, in particular, means it falls to governments, either individually or collectively, to impose sanctions when they believe it necessary. Leaving it to sporting organisations is akin to passing the buck. Predicament would pile on predicament if those bodies sought to base their international commitments on their own assessment of Government standards.

Well said, in our humble opinion. The leader writer goes on to draw comparisons with the actions of the Australian government in 2007, and the inaction of our own government two years previously:

In 2007, the Australian Government accepted its responsibility and cancelled a cricket tour of Zimbabwe. Here, in 2005, the Labour Government demurred, saying it would prefer the Black Caps to stay at home but would not order them not to go. This week, the party's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Helen Clark, made it clear Labour still believes this to be the correct approach. Going to the extreme of taking away passports would be a "slippery slope", she said.

That suggests an impending compromising of New Zealanders' human rights. Yet any such concern would evaporate if Parliament were to pass carefully tailored legislation that decreed national sporting teams could not play in Zimbabwe. There would be nothing to stop individuals leaving New Zealand or going to that nation.

Indeed. A "Don't go to Zimbabwe" Bill could easily be crafted, and could just as easily be repealed once the timeframe for the tour has expired.

We retun to our title line - in a perfect world, this decision would not have to be made. In a perfect world, sport and politics could remain separate. However the world, or at least when Zimbabwe is considered, is far, far from perfect, and Keeping Stock agrees with the Herald and opines that government intervention is justified to stop this tour.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spend it like Beckham

We all knew that the failed David Beckham/LA Galaxy promotion in Auckland was doomed to failure, but a loss of $1.79 million? Sheesh, that's BAD!

And Auckland Regional Council CEO Peter Winder must be a master of understatement when he said:

"This is a very disappointing outcome and it has been a disaster for the ARC,"

Dom-Post on Corrections

The Dominion-Post's editorial this morning is devoted to fiascos in the Corrections Department, and in particular the gloomy future for CEO Barry Matthews. The leader writer opines:

Whichever way you look at it, the public service career of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews seems to be over, The Dominion Post writes. And when he goes as he surely must perhaps he will take some second-tier managers with him.

On Tuesday, Corrections Minister Judith Collins asked State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie to report within 10 days on who was accountable for yet more failures in Mr Matthews' department. Her request came after an auditor-general's report that found, after studying 100 parole cases from May 2007 to May 2008, the department largely failed to follow at least one of five procedures he considered critical to public safety.

What aggravates the Audit Office findings is that they come despite assurances from Mr Matthews and probation service head Katrina Casey that their team had "learnt from" the mistakes that allowed psychopath Graeme Burton to murder a father-of-two while on parole in January 2007. Their concession came, however, after the departmental chief first said he had "no blood on my hands" and Ms Casey protested that procedures had been followed.

Keeping Stock believes that it is very hard to find fault with the Dom-Post's argument. Matthews was kept on to oversee the changes that were needed in his department in the wake of a series of systemic failures. The Auditor-General's report makes it patently clear that many of these changes have not been followed. And the leader writer notes that he has tested his Minister's patience once too often:

Chief executives cannot remain once they lose their minister's confidence. Ms Collins has not yet said that, but her comments this week leave little room for doubt. It is no wonder she is unimpressed it is hard to envisage any excuse Mr Matthews might proffer for this latest mess that would be acceptable.

He might argue, perhaps, that he was ignorant of what was happening on the floors below. He might say, maybe, that he did know, but didn't care. He might say he did know, did care and could not get his team to change their ways. Whatever his defence, it does not matter. The buck stops with him.

Quite so. Although Ms Collins' problems in Corrections will not be solved solely by the removal of Barry Matthews, Corrections management and staff will have no doubt that a new age of accountability has arrived, and that there are new and far higher expectations of competence. And that is exactly as it should be.

Richie to draw stumps

Some, such as Murray Deaker will say "not before time", both others amongst the community of cricket tragics will be more reflective on the announcement that Richie Benaud is to lay down his microphone and beige jacket at the end of the next Australian summer.

And whilst there are many "tributes" to choose from this morning, we reckon this one from Mike Norrish of The Telegraph is a pretty good snapshot of the veteran commentator, and at least goes some way towards showing the huge void that exists between Benaud, and some of the more recent retirees from the Australian cricket team - Slats, Tubbs, Heals, Gilly et al. And Norrish puts to bed the myth that Mark Nicholas is in Benaud's class as a commentator - just watch the video of Benaud describing Shane Warne's "ball of the century" to Mike Gatting.

And all icons have their particular quirks - as Norrish notes:

And among the many tributes already posted on Australian websites, this one, from David in Melbourne, stood out:
"Any score of 2 for 22 will never be the same again." Benaud-philes will understand why.

Indeed - vale Richie

UPDATE: For all the criticism we pour on the Channel 9 commentary team, Benaud has always been an man of integrity - never better displayed than his closing words from a telecast in Melbourne one Sunday afternoon many years ago...

The Herald on electoral funding

In the wake of the passage of the Act repealing the odious Electoral Finance Act, the Herald reflects by way of its editorial this morning. It begins:

The Electoral Finance Act has been removed from the statutes with good grace on all sides. The Labour Party has expressed regret for its enactment, National has acknowledged the gesture. Only the Greens voted against the repeal in Parliament on Tuesday night. The climate is right for all parties to begin a proper revision of the laws governing financial contributions to politics and the review should start this year. It should not wait until the next election year is practically here.

That, of course, was one of the Greens' self-satisfied justifications for not supporting the repeal. What the heck do they want? Did they want a repeat of the EFA fiasco, with the legislation rushed through Parliament in order to have it in place to create a new, extended regulated period. For as the leader writer notes (and Keeping Stock concurs), haste was a major issue last time around:

Haste was one cause of the flaws in Labour's legislation, partisan purpose was another. But its fundamental error was the attitude that politics is, or should be, the preserve of organised and registered political parties. If other groups or individuals wanted to spend money to promote a cause they were to register as a "third party", comply with authorisation and accounting rules and keep their spending within tighter restrictions than those imposed on real parties.

Political participation must not be restricted to those willing and able to organise themselves and comply with red tape. The barrier resented by those sort of requirements was evident in the unusual quietness of the election last year. There has to be room in election debate for the amateur and the sudden contributions when an anxiety arises or somebody feels something important is being neglected.

We couldn't agree more. And in this spirit of concurrence and agreement, we are right with the leader writer's closing paragraph:

Electoral law should never again be made by a Government on the hoof. National should invite all parties to sit down soon and begin to resolve a set of financial rules that would permit wide and honest participation in the country's decisions.

Indeed - even the Greens!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Labour's woes are National's joy

3News released its first poll for a while tonight, and we guess that while National will be thrilled, the only joy in the Labour camp will be in David "Boy Wonder" Cunliffe's office. "How so?" you ask. Well, Phil Goff just ain't registering with the voting public.

In short, National is at 60% support, in a poll which traditionally favours the left. Labour trails at 27%, with the Greens even further back at 7%. And in the Preferred PM stakes, it's just as emphatic. John Key rates at 52%, Helen Clark still has 14% support, even though she is UN-bound, and Phil Goff registers a mere 4%.

And as DPF notes over at Kiwiblog:

Now a week is a long time in politics, and the next election is 33 months away. Goff is under no threat for now. But if he doesn’t make some traction towards the end of the year, he may find the summer of 2010 is BBQ at Dave’s place.

The $6 billion question ...

An interesting exchange in the House this afternoon on Labour's manipulation of DHB waiting lists, especially this final supplementary question:

Dr Jackie Blue: How can it be that the health vote has basically doubled from $6 billion to $12 billion, yet fewer people in real terms get elective surgery?

Hon TONY RYALL: That is an astonishing $6 billion question. The facts are that under the Labour Government the health vote nearly doubled, fewer people in real terms were getting elective surgery, thousands were culled from hospital waiting lists, and the new lists did not count all the people. Although the new Government has inherited many worrying failures from the previous Labour Government in the public health system, including the track to financial crisis I outlined yesterday, elective surgery and manipulation are at the forefront of Labour’s failures.

Need we say more?

Judge shouldn't have struggled

Here's the headline on the Herald website:

'I am struggling to keep you out of prison', judge tells boy racer

Keeping Stock believes that Judge John Bisphan should have saved himself a struggle. This is what the "boy racer", Joshua James Brendon Herrick, 21 did:

Herrick was doing wheelies in the street when the victim, who lives or works nearby, photographed him to get a picture of the car's licence plate.

"You must have seen this, so you parked your vehicle, got out, and as the victim was walking away you punched him twice in the side of the head and he fell to the ground.

"While he was on the ground you kicked him and then picked up the camera and left.

"You took the camera so that any evidence against you would be removed or obliterated."

And if you think we're being a bit harsh, here's more:

He noted that Herrick had one other conviction for assault, for an attack on his partner. He was already under conditions imposed by the Family Court and could take courses to curb his violence of his own volition.

We reckon that Judge John Bishpan should have saved himself the struggle, and sent Herrick down for a while - a good long while - to reflect on his violent and anti-social behaviour.

You're kidding, right?

This, from the RadioSport website:

Aussie spinner misses flight

2/18/2009 1:12 PM

Australian spin bowler Bryce McGain is facing disciplinary
action after sleeping in and missing flight to South

Spin bowler Bryce McGain has made the worst possible start to his time in the Australian cricket team.

He is facing disciplinary action after missing the plane to South Africa ahead of the upcoming tour.

The 36-year-old slept in on Monday and had to catch a later flight to Johannesburg to join his teammates.

How the heck could you sleep in on the eve of your first trip away with your country's elite sports team - especially after FINALLY being selected at the age of 36? Oh dear, the Aussie tour to South Africa hasn't even started yet, and the wheels are falling off!! What a shame!!

Black Caps lose!

And this time, it has NOTHING to do with dodgy Australian umpires, underprepared pitches or poor run chases. This is a major loss OFF the field. For Stuff is reporting on the arrest for fraud of Texan billionaire Allen Stanford on major fraud charges.

What's that got to do with the Black Caps? We'll let Stuff tell you:

LATEST: The Black Caps have lost the chance to take some "cream" in a cricket tournament in May with the arrest today of Texas billionaire Allen Stanford on major fraud charges.

He created the lucrative Stanford Super Series of Twenty20 cricket and with the England Cricket Board (ECB) had set up a quadrangular tournament in May involving New Zealand.

New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan told it was now extremely likely that the tournament would not happen.NZC had not budgeted for the tournament although it would have been a beneficiary.

Vaughan said it would have been "cream on the top" with prize money available to the teams and players and participation fees.

"(It was) a reasonable chunk of money for what was a pretty small playing commitment," Vaughan said.

It was into the hundreds of thousands of pounds but not millions, he said.

The biggest loser of all however will be West Indies cricket. Stanford has poured some serious money into cricket in the Caribbean, sponsoring the Stanford 20/20 tournament, and bankrolling the US$20m winner-take-all 20/20 match between the West Indies and England late last year, won by the West Indians, alternatively known as the Stanford Superstar XI.

And somehow, we don't imagine that this will be the last sports sponsorship to fall over for whatever reason. Already there are suggestions that the rebel ICL 20/20 league will not proceed in a few months. Could that mean that Shane Bond is once again available for the Black Caps? That's a nice thought!

More bile from Rudman

Brian Rudman must have flown under our radar up until now. After the election, he entered our consciousness by virtue of his feud with Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, but this week, our sickly liberal detector has been working overtime.

On Monday, it was his take on "child-killer" Bruce Emery and his victim, Pihema Cameron. Today, Rudman vents his spleen over suggestions that Maori could be interested in tendering for prison management contracts. He says:

Who said the disparate parts of the new National-led coalition wouldn't get along? If the current frenzy over law and order is anything to go by, it's going to be a love-in.

No sooner had the Government announced its intention to introduce legislation backing Act's draconian "three strikes and you're out" sentencing policy, Maori Party leaders were on their hind legs proposing Maori should run the jails.

This would be possible because the coalition partners are at one with privatising the prison service. Looking at the figures you can see why. As a business opportunity, the incarceration industry stands out as the only ray of hope in these recessionary times.

OK - it's pretty obvious that Rudman is not a fan of the new National-led government. Perhaps he's even hurting at the demise of Helengrad. But Brian, we reckon you should move on - all this repressed bitterness isn't good for you! For further on, he berates Tariana Turia, saying:

She singled out the recently completed Northland prison at Ngawha and said she was sure if that were to be privatised, "Ngati Hine and Ngati Rangi would be extremely interested".

Which just shows you that some people don't give up.

Ten years ago, when Ngawha Prison was still just a dream, Ngati Hine, with the enthusiastic lobbying of then local MP and Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare, wanted to build and run a private prison in the area.

The concept appalled me then and still does. First grow the raw material, then put it in a can and look after it, I said. It was investing money in the belief that there was an endless supply of losers out there waiting to be processed. It was a depressing vision of the future, one with half the tribe and their mates in prison while the other half was being paid by the state to run it. Indeed the prosperity of the tribe would depend on a continuing - and hopefully expanding - supply of the raw material.

Of all the places Maori could invest their Treaty settlement and other money, this would have to be the most inappropriate. Ethical investment it is not.

Ethical? Ethical?? What rock has Rudman been hiding under all the years of the last Labour-led government. Was paying tens of millions of dollars over the odds for an ageing, rusting rail network "ethical investment"? Was rushing through critical and flawed Emissions Trading legislation under urgency in the dying days of the 48th Parliament, with the barest of majorities "ethical investment"? Was the exponential growth of the bureaucracy at the expense of core public services "ethical investment"? We could go on, but we think you'll be getting the gist by now.

Rudman may have been a cheerleader for Helen Clark's Labour-led government. But he needs to get his head around the fact that we had an election last year, and that his beloved lefties were resoundingly defeated. This new National-led government is NOT Labour in drag. And Brian Rudman needs to get used to it.