Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The story has taken a new twist today. Air New Zealand is trying to recruit additional staff so that it can move its customers, but the EPMU don't like that. Not only are they, via their mouthpiece The Standard calling for the Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe to be fired, they are trying to sabotage Air NZ's response. The EPMU is calling on people to falsely apply for jobs via Air NZ's internet site, even going as far to provide a dummy CV template.
What is it with these guys? They are quite happy to see Air NZ out of pocket, which of course will negatively effect the airline's ability to pay people! And they are quite happy for the holiday plans of around 20,000 people to be disrupted. This won't just affect out-bound travellers of course, so the New Zealand tourist industry will take a hit, courtesy of the EMPU. And we wonder - how many of those planning holidays in Fiji or Australia are union members or affiliates?
No, we reckon this is outright bully-boy tactics from the EPMU, led as they are by the Labour Party president-in-waiting. And it's a style of unionism we despise, and had hoped we had left in the past. It seems not.
We wondered about this - so we did some market research. We've been to the Library (always busy on pension day), the supermarket, the Imlay butchers' shop (eye fillet steak for dinner tonight!) and picked up the mail at the PostShop. We tuned into a few conversations, but didn't see or hear anyone who would we describe as being "up in arms". Mind you, we made a point of steering clear of the W(h)anganui District Council building!
OK - here's where we stand. We don't actually care that much one way or t'other. It's not an issue that is of huge import to the way we live our lives. Changing the city's name from Wanganui to Whanganui will involve a bit of expense for us next time any printing is done, but everything is done digitally these days, so the inconvenience will be small. However the graphics and printing businesses we deal with (all local) are doubtless looking forward to a mini-windfall.
We don't know enough about the rights and the wrongs of the historical side of the argument. Perhaps we should make it a point to find out. We do remember that when we studied Te Reo Maori at the local Wananga a couple of years ago, the local dialect does have a silent "h".
We do know this however. Mayor Michael Laws is vehemently opposed to this proposed change. He claims that the 2006 referendum he conducted showed that in excess of 80% of those who voted chose the status quo - the key words being "those who voted". Ask him what the turnout was! In his most recent referendum (2008), Laws attacked the preferred choice of those who voted - the Wanganui Events Centre, saying that as only around 35% of those who were eligible actually returned their voting papers, it was not the will of the majority. So much for the integrity of Laws, and his famous referenda! And as this morning's Herald editorial on the subject notes:
But it is not for the Mayor or district council to argue that local Maori pronunciation has no need of the "h", or that it would be an imposition on what Mr Laws calls, "the culture, the mana, the heritage of my people". If Mr Laws' city wishes to continue to use a Maori name, it needs to respect the culture it is borrowing.
W(h)anganui has far more important issues to deal with that the spelling of the city's name. We love living here. The city has wonderful recreational facilities, a fantastic arts community, a polytechnic with world-class "niche" courses, and a developing cafe culture. And whilst we are loathe to criticise Laws whilst his daughter continues to battle ill-health (our church continues to pray for Lucy and her whanau), we would far rather the attention of the Mayor and Councillors was devoted to those issues which will enable Wanganui to continue to enhance its reputation as a vibrant provincial city, not those that see us firmly rooted in the past.
The Telegraph in the UK reports on the work of Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner. And his findings are in stark contrast to those of so-called experts like - ummmm - Al Gore - read this:
And, oh dear, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) might have been using dodgy data to press its case forward:
But if there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.
Despite fluctuations down as well as up, "the sea is not rising," he says. "It hasn't risen in 50 years." If there is any rise this century it will "not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm". And quite apart from examining the hard evidence, he says, the elementary laws of physics (latent heat needed to melt ice) tell us that the apocalypse conjured up by Al Gore and Co could not possibly come about.
The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that these claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on "going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world".
One of his most shocking discoveries was why the IPCC has been able to show sea levels rising by 2.3mm a year. Until 2003, even its own satellite-based evidence showed no upward trend. But suddenly the graph tilted upwards because the IPCC's favoured experts had drawn on the finding of a single tide-gauge in Hong Kong harbour showing a 2.3mm rise. The entire global sea-level projection was then adjusted upwards by a "corrective factor" of 2.3mm, because, as the IPCC scientists admitted, they "needed to show a trend".
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! We should be very, very grateful that experts such as Dr Mörner are prepared to expose the untruths which have been perpetuated in the last decade or so. It makes us even more reassured that the incoming National government has put New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme on hold, thereby fulfilling yet another election promise. We reckon that it is Dr Mörner, not Al Gore who is speaking an Incovenient Truth!
The Herald reports that Key has left two of his Ministers in no doubt as to his expectations. The story says:
Prime Minister John Key has carpeted one minister for getting involved in a potential conflict of interest and shot down another for suggesting a tax on plastic bags after being blindsided twice in 24 hours.
It was the first time Mr Key had publicly criticised any of his ministers and he left reporters in no doubt about how he had dealt with them.
Good stuff. Key is applying his business acumen here. He sets high standards, and he expects others to maintain equally high standards - which is exactly as it should be. And as Head Prefect, he's more than happy to dish out a bit of gentle correction:
Mr Key made it clear when he named his ministers that he wanted "outcomes, results and accountability". Yesterday, he said if anyone in government "needed a bollocking" it would come from him.
"I'm happy to administer it. Just ask Dr Worth," he said.
We are in no doubt that said bollocking was administered with Key's trademark grin. After all, he isn't known as the Smiling Assassin without reason! Seriously though, Key has responded quickly and more importantly decisively in response to these hiccups in his administration. Doubtless too Dr Richard Worth in particular has been left in no doubt that there are plenty of his colleagues who are ready, willing and most importantly able to assume his Ministerial responsibilities.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Arnold Palmer Invitational was only Woods' third tournament back after an eight-month layoff following major knee surgery. He began play in today's final round a full five shots behind Sean O'Hair. He never led the tournament - not until this moment, on the 72nd and final green
We watched the last group play the last hole, and said to Mrs Inventory "He'll make this" - which, of course, he did, taking the lead at 5 under par with his very last shot of the tournament, under the watchful gaze of The King himself, Arnold Palmer.
Tiger Woods is a freak, the likes of whom we may never see again in our lifetime. Before this tournament, there was talk of Woods being surplanted as World #1 by Phil Mickleson. No chance, not now. Woods will have a week off to relax now, then will head to Augusta, Georgia next week for the Masters Tournament. His opponents there will have cause for concern, for Woods didn't actually play that well at Bay Hill. But when the tournament ends, he has an innate ability to get the ball in the hole in one shot less than the next-best player.
Meantime, read what our on-line golf Bible, PGA Tour.com has to say.
Over at Kiwiblog, DPF has helpfully posted a table showing tax rates when National's first round of tax cuts kicks in on Wednesday.
Readers will note that the greatest percentage cut will come for those earning between $20,000 and $30,000. That makes a mockery of claims from the left that these are "tax cuts for the rich".
Of course, these rates apply to those who are not in receipt of Working for Families. We are delighted that National has finally recognised this group, of which we are a part. Although our children have lived with their mother for many years, we have supported them financially, physically and emotionally. We have paid our Child Support, a not-inconsiderable sum dutifully for more years than we care to remember. And until October last year, just before the election, we had no relief whatsoever from the Labour government.
Thanks National - another promise kept!
But there are heaps of positives to take from this match. In the Indian first innings, they were able to put the world's best batsmen under pressure and induce some false shots. The Black Caps scored their 619 runs in five and a half sessions - to date, the Indians have batted a full session more, yet are still 60 behind.
All is not yet lost. If, and it's a HUGE if, they could capture a couple of wickets early in the day, we'd see the out-of-forn Yuvraj Singh come in, and we saw on Saturday how the Indian lower order folded. We live in hope.
New Zealand hasn't been helped by the pitch conditions. In the height of summer, with direct sunlight, even the "road" at Napier would deteriorate. But we are now past the autumn equinox, and the sun shines from a more acute angle, meaning that pitch conditions change less quickly. And the Indians looked very much at home in the conditions yesterday, even though they were patently batting for a draw.
We'll still be watching today, and we wouldn't bet against Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 43rd test century. But cricket is a funny old game - perhaps that explains our life-long love affair!
UPDATE: A great start to the day - the Little Master has departed - one more wicket, and who knows what might happen? Follow the live action here.
I do not know of anyone who is not glad the Justices of the Peace threw the police charges against Otara liquor store owner Virender Singh straight out of court. Mr Singh, from all indications a well-liked and popular man in his community, did what he had to do when a couple of drunk young thugs came in to his store and stabbed him. He took to them with a hockey stick and bashed the daylights out of them. Suits me. I really do not have a problem with what Mr Singh did. Go for it, Mr Singh, I say.
The threat to crush boy racers' cars for repeat offences has moved forward with the Government drafting legislation aimed at getting their souped-up vehicles out of circulation.
Police Minister Judith Collins said legislation currently being written would allow courts to order the crushing of cars belonging to recidivist offenders.
Ms Collins said yesterday that she believed crushing had benefits over selling the seized car and giving the money to charity.
"Who buys a boy racer car except another boy racer? We're just recycling the problem," she said, adding that while fines meant nothing to some boy racers, "they do care about their cars".
Exactly - "they do care about their cars". So seizing and destroying the cars of the worst offenders makes perfect sense. Their cars may in fact be the only thing these anti-social hoons care about, so this legislation will have teeth, hitting the boy-racers where it will hurt them the most.
And we applaud National and Collins for making good on their promise to take on the boy-racers head-on. Given Clayton Cosgrove's previous commendable efforts to deal with (or to) the problem, there may even be bi-partisan support for the legislation. That would indeed be a good thing, and send a strong message to these hoons that whoever is in power, their standover tactics will not be tolerated.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
It's been jokingly dubbed "moustache gate", but questionable on-air comments by Breakfast host Paul Henry are being investigated by TVNZ.
Henry outraged some viewers last Wednesday when he giggled about the facial hair of one of his female guests anti-nuclear campaigner and Greenpeace worker Stephanie Mills.
"It was a moustache on a lady."
Mills was on the show to discuss compensation given by the French government to victims of nuclear testing in the Pacific.
TVNZ confirmed it had received "a handful" of complaints from viewers and had started a formal complaints procedure as outlined by the Broadcasting Standards Act.
But Henry was yesterday unrepentant, saying he had nothing to be sorry about and viewers expected him to speak his mind.
"I certainly have no intention of apologising to people who have written in and complained. The key thing to me is what a fortunate life they must have that they can afford time and energy to complain about such an insignificant thing."
We hadn't blogged about this yet, only about the irony of an EPMU-connected blogger calling for Henry to be sacked. However in the interests of interest, here's the video - if you want to watch it, feel free - TVNZ has made it freely available!
Tell us what you think, because, like Paul Henry, we're going to tell you what we think. Investigating this is a waste of time and of resources. TVNZ is supposedly strapped for cash, yet it insists on such nonsense. It should be paying Henry a bonus for the ensuing increase in viewership that this will provide. And to Paul Henry we say this - please continue to be that rarest of birds in public broadcasting - the one who says what he thinks, without fear nor favour.
It's been an excellent weekend for the New Zealand teams, with the exception of the hapless Blues who can't buy a trick at the moment. The Highlanders won at "home" in Palmerston North (we wonder what Ele at Homepaddock makes of that!), knocking over the previously unbeaten Bulls, and picking up a four-try bonus point in the process. This was a win-win scenario for the Highlanders - battling dwindling attendances at the House of Pain, they onsold the match to the Manawatu union. The Highlanders got a guaranteed match fee, and Manawatu will be in the black after more than 10,000 watched the match yesterday.
The Chiefs are now the form team in the comp. with another helter-skelter bonus point win in Brisbane, and the Crusaders "won ugly" against the Stormers at home. But the highlight for us was the bonus-point win by our beloved Hurricanes at Jo'burg. Any win at 6000 feet above sea level is a good one, and the 'Canes will now enjoy their week in Durban preparing for a match against the table-topping Sharks next weekend. The Hurricanes are now up to fifth on the table, but with a game in hand over three of the top four. The Highlanders, Crusaders and Blues ocuupy positions six, seven and eight, whilst the Chiefs' recent form sees them rise to third.
And we wonder how Aussie rugby boss John O'Neill can justify his pleas for another Australian team in an expanded competition when three Australian teams fill positions 10, 11 and 12!
Peter Williams writes in the Herald on Sunday this morning of his recent playing experiences at Augusta. The opportunity to play there is a once-in-a-lifetime one - strictly by invitation - adding to the mystique of the place. We'll leave it up to Williams to tell the story, but these two paragraphs especially caught our attention:
What you don't realise until you're in them is the size and depth of the fairway bunkers. You are literally in over your head, usually with no view of the green.
Phil Mickelson hit a 9-iron out of one on the left hand side of the 5th last year to within a couple of metres of the hole and made a birdie. When you stand in that bunker and all you can see is a sand wall and blue sky, you just shake your head as to how any player could hit the ball close to the hole.
So we envy Peter Williams. Not only for his chance to play at Augusta, but also for the composure he showed during THAT Paul Henry moment this week!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thwe New Zealanders have been on-song today, and their fielding in particular was a lesson to the visitors. Every chance offered by the Indian batsmen was accepted with glee. Jesse Ryder has starred again taking the huge wicket of Rahul "The Wall" Dravid, and taking a couple of catches, the last one, off Zaheer Khan's bat a stunner.
The Indians have been off the pace in this match; almost complacent. That's strange for a team which hasn't won a series on these shores sincre the 1967-68 season. If the New Zealanders can pick up a wicket or two in the 17 overs of play remaining today, the TAB will be further reviewing their odds on a Kiwi victory - we should have put a lazy fiver on them at $7.00 on Friday morning!
Follow the live action here, courtesy of Cricinfo.
UPDATE: Day Three ends with India at 47 for one - still trailing by 267 runs, with Virender Sehwag back in the hut. An outstanding three days for the Black Caps.
We reckon that this is something of a double Standard! Aren't unions supposed to be pro-worker?
Hat-tip: Monkey With Typewriter
We concur completely with their views, and rather than celebrating Earth Hour at 8.30pm tonight, we will celebrate the life, light and times of Thomas Edison by lighting up.
UPDATE: Steven Stratford, commenting at Homepaddock, reveals a delightful piece of irony:
Where I live people throughout the region are being encouraged to support Earth Hour by attending Nightglow, an event at Waikato University. The promotional material says that the main carpark has 5000 spaces, and there are two other carparks for when it is full. What a great way to reduce emissions.
We admitted last Thursday that we had been wrong about Jesse Ryder's ability to play test cricket after his century against the Indians at Hamilton. Big Jess rubbed our noses in it again on Thursday and yesterday with a magnificent double-century, only the 15th by a New Zealand batsman in New Zealand's 350th test match. There is no doubt whatsoever that Ryder has the goods to be an outstanding test match batsman, and we again apologise for having suggested otherwise. We will, of course, be delighted if Jesse Ryder keeps rubbing our noses in it!
Let's look at his statistics. This is his eighth test match, and he has batted 14 times to date for 768 runs at an average of 64.00. He has gone past 50 six times, past 100 twice, and now he has a double-ton to his credit. His career batting average is almost ten runs higher than that of the Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, who averages 54.73, the best of the Indians.
It's early days for Ryder, and such is the game of cricket that he will inevitably go through peaks and troughs. Right now however, he is rydeing ('scuse the awful pun!) the crest of a wave, and we have more cause for optimism as to the Black Caps' test cricket fortunes than we have for some time. And David Leggat's salute to Jesse Ryder in this morning's Herald is well worth a read as well.
So to Tane and co, we have this message. Apologising isn't always easy, but it's worth it. But persisting with a lie is very bad form - think on it guys. Jesse Ryder has 'fessed up to the mistakes he's made, and look what it's done for him!
The continuing emasculation of forward play is the worst part about the modern game.
Watching officials condone crooked scrum feeds and lineout throws with as much bend as Muttiah Muralitharan's elbow is bad enough.
But the ruck, the section of rugby which defined its character and created space, has been eroded.
That disintegration may have pleased queasy parents and nations who were not as adept at rucking as their New Zealand counterparts, but it is the blight in the modern game. That damage was highlighted in the clatter of cards issued by the officious Matt Goddard a week ago.
There were some who defended Goddard's intervention. After all, he told the viewers and the participants several times it was his game.
When he binned Hurricanes lock Jason Eaton for rucking/stomping his Bulls rival Bakkies Botha, the groan should have been heard all the way back to the International Rugby Board's headquarters. If it was, it is unlikely to have made any difference as they have forgotten how to administer the game and seem only concerned with World Cups.
Eaton may have been a little over-zealous in his dance move, but he had been rendered ineffective because of the laws and Goddard's inability to penalise the culprit. Botha lay on the wrong side of the ruck and prevented the Hurricanes from getting at the ball.
What could Eaton do? He could not wade in with his hands because he would be penalised, but the alternative was waiting for some action from Goddard, who was going through his Ray Charles impersonation routine.
Eaton was left with two choices. Stand by and obey the rules, which have left forwards resembling eunuchs at the breakdown, or mete out some of his own justice. He chose the latter.
Not smart maybe, but understandable. A clip of that episode should be sent to the IRB laws sub-committee with a "please explain" question about the shape of the game.
We agree completely. We refereed rugby for around ten years, and the worst aspect of the game was players who cheated by killing the ball at he breakdown. It was a constant source of frustration for both players and referees alike. And it's a damn sight worse now than it was when we were blowing the whistle.
We grimaced when John Mitchell announced prior to the 2003 RWC that the All Blacks would not ruck, so as not to earn the wrath of referees. That, more than anything, contributed to the demise of Mitchell's team in that tournament. It sent a message to opposition teams that they could cheat to their heart's content. And players like George Smith, the excellent Australian open-side flanker don't need a second invitation!
Rucking, where the feet go in a backwards motion is not of itself dangerous. The danger comes when players stamp straight downwards, or kick, with a forward motion. Those actions are dangerous, and constitute foul play ander the Laws of the Game, and should be punished. But something has gone wrong when a player like Bakkies Botha can illegally lie all over the ball as he did last Friday night unpunished, while the player who tries to get him out of the way is banished.
The IRB must act, in our considered opinion, and act now. Put the gins down ghentlemen, and sort out this mess - please, for the sake of rugby.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark's husband will not accompany her to New York and will instead stay at home because of his work commitments.
Peter Davis told the Weekend Herald he wasn't in a position to "down tools" and move with her new role at the United Nations because of his research and teaching obligations at Auckland University.
Professor Davis said the couple would work out a commuting pattern that the university would be happy with.
"At this point the main thing is to make sure that Helen settles into the job and the place. We'll work something so that both of us can see a good amount of each other and she has space to get her work done and I have space to do mine."
The couple, who met in 1977 and married in 1981, are used to working apart because of their successful careers.
When Professor Davis worked at University of Otago's Christchurch School of Medicine, he commuted from their home in Mt Eden in Auckland to Christchurch, while Helen Clark commuted to Premier House in Wellington.
It's hardly a surprise. Clark and Davis have essentially lived separate lives for her entire political career, with each wedded to their respective jobs.
But back to the story - staff of the UNDP will be overjoyed to read this:
It is understood Helen Clark's former chief of staff Heather Simpson does not want to go and take up a similar position with her in New York.
We reckon you will feel the sighs of relief from here at that piece of news!
Friday, March 27, 2009
It's been a day of milestones - Jesse Ryder's first test double-century, Brendon McCullum's first "home" test hundred, and his first against top-drawer opposition, and only the third time the Black Caps have gone past 600 - 616-9 to be exact.
And then there was the Indian batting! India ended the day at 79-3 - Sehwag and Gambhir self-destructed, and Vettori picked up the night-watchman Ishant Sharma late in the day. There will be huge pressure on Dravid and Tendulkar tomorrow when play resumes - a couple more wickets, and the Indian tail is exposed. We expect to see Vettori and Patel bowling a lot of overs in tandem tomorrow. India's mission will be simple; bat, bat and bat some more, They need a further 341 runs just to avoid the follow-on.
Full marks to the Kiwis who have shown a lot more fight so far in this test. May this continue tomorrow ... meantime, you can read Cricinfo's summary of the day here.
But let's not forget the other victim of Broughton's mindless violence. The Herald today reports on Zara Schofield, the 19-year-old who was brutally bashed by Broughton just twelve days before Ms Aim's murder. Have a read of this:
Thirteen months after she was viciously attacked with a rock by a boy who went on to murder her friend and workmate, Zara Schofield is still too scared to walk the streets.
Ms Schofield was walking home from a party in Taupo in January 2008 when she was attacked by Jahche Broughton, then aged 14.
The boy hit her repeatedly about the head with a rock, inflicting serious brain injuries. A year on, she still suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although Broughton was sentenced to six years imprisonment for this cowardly, unprovoked attack, he won't spend one extra day in jail, as the sentence was concurrent with his life sentence. We don't reckon that is particularly fair, and agree with Psycho Milt at No Minister who has blogged about this today.
Lastly, we have been touched by the grace which Karen Aim's family has shown in the aftermath of this tragedy, especially her father Brian. Our thoughts and prayers are with then as they head back to their home in the Orkney Islands to rebuild their lives. Arohanui - may God's love and peace surround them in the dark days ahead.
Anyway, Friday means it's time once again for the Friday Forum - your place on the blogosphere to rant, rave and vent your spleen. We're not judgemental here - your opinion matters!. And for cricket tragics like pdm, Leg Break and ourselves, we can talk about things pertaining to the test match in Napier, where the Black Caps are, for a brief moment, in the ascendancy!
The floor is yours ...
Replacing Ms Clark, an electorate MP, requires a byelection. But if list MP Mr Twyford stands and wins Mt Albert then he will have to be replaced by the next list hopeful too.
The problem for Labour is that the next seven people on the list are yesterday's people, defeated MPs from last year.
The top two are Damien O'Connor, who lost West Coast, Labour's so-called birthplace, and Judith Tizard, MP for Auckland Central.
The hierarchy see the advantages of provincial "good bloke" Mr O'Connor returning, but are arguing that the return of Ms Tizard, and those below her like Mark Burton and Mahara Okeroa, would run counter to the rejuvenation process begun last election.
Certainly the writing was on the wall for them last year when Ms Tizard was bumped from 18 on the 2005 list to 38, Mr Burton from 16 to 39 and Mr Okeroa from 22 to 40.
We concur. We reckon that Labour will do everything within their power to prevent Judith Tizard making it back into the House. And we also agree with Rudman when he suggests the unthinkable:
The bright side for Mr Twyford if he stands aside is that he might be well out of it. With Ms Clark gone, Labour could lose, just as it lost neighbouring Auckland Central a few months before.
Interesting times await us, no doubt about that!
Hi, Inventory2 (Inventory2).
David Cunliffe (dcunliffemp) is now following your updates on Twitter.
Yes, that's right - Cunners is following us! Welcome David, we applaud your willingness to consider alternative viewpoints!!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We're looking forward to a better all-round performance by the Black Caps at Napier in the 2nd test match which is about to start. New Zealand has won the toss and will bat first. Jamie How is in for the injured Daniel Flynn, whilst there's a surprise change in the Indian team with captain MS Dhoni out with a back injury, to be replaced by Dinesh Karthik.
It's a glorious day in Napier, the pitch looks full of runs, and hopefully, a good day's cricket awaits. Regular commenter pdm will hope so, gracing McLean Park with his presence as he is! All that remains is to say "Play"!!
UPDATE: It was indeed a good day for the Black Caps, after a horror start. The partnership between Ryder and Taylor has set New Zealand up for a big first innings total, especially if Jesse Ryder gets a start tomorrow morning. The New Zealanders resume on 351 for 4, with Ryder on 137 and James Franklin on 26. Cricinfo reviews the day's play.
"Hi, Inventory2 (Inventory2).
Ccosgrove (ccosgrovemp) is now following your updates on Twitter."
Wow - we were flattered! A front-bench Labour MP was following our Twitter updates. So we visited Clayton Cosgrove's profile last night, and found that he's got a few followers of his own - in fact, it's pretty evident that one of Labour's strategies to "reconnect" with the public is to use Twitter! Because Phil Goff now uses Twitter; so does Shane Jones; So does Cunners; So does Darren Hughes. So log on to Twitter, and follow the progress of your favourite Labourite!!
And what of Cosgrove - his latest update (Tuesday) says "Ccosgrovemp Thought Phil Goff really nailed key today at question time." We beg to differ - John Key is all over Phil Goff at the moment, and we reckon the likes of Jones and Cunners are sharpening their knives!
Prime Minister John Key says several of Labour's "hug a polar bear" programmes are on the hit-list as the Government tries to cut costs.
Mr Key said his ministers had uncovered several ineffective programmes with the "nicest, friendliest sounding names" during detailed reviews of their departments.
"The 'hug a polar bear programme' will survive. It doesn't matter what recession occurs, it sounds like a really nice name.
"But the reality is if you look below the surface, the hug a polar bear programme might not do that much for polar bears. And if it doesn't, then we shouldn't continue to fund it."
Mr Key would not identify the programmes but said there was a series of them.
One example was the Ministry for the Environment's programme for a carbon-neutral public service, which has been cancelled as part of a restructuring expected to cost 20 jobs.
"It generated a huge number of bureaucratic appointments but a very inconsequential change if any to New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Key said.
Great stuff. The core role of the public service is to serve the public of New Zealand. We applaud the pragmatism of the John Key-led government in immediately addressing the millions of dollars of wasteful public sector expenditure promoted by its predeccessor.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Labour opposes the Bill, and most of the debate has come from Grant Robertson, Moana Mackey and lately Steve Chadwick. Their dismissal of the Bill as bad law has been unconvincing, as have been their attacks on Act.
Metiria Turei spoke earlier, and we found her speech quite frightening, considering her aspirations to co-lead the third-largest party in the Parliament. She decribed the Bill as "racist" because it only targets non-white gangs, and that "white" gangs didn't wear patches. What rubbish! Gangs are not a racial problem; they are a social and criminal problem. In addition to the Mongrel Mob and Black Power, Wanganui has a chapter of Hell's Angels; on either side of Wanganui there are well-known "bikie" gangs - the Magogs from New Plymouth and the Mothers from Palmerston North. All wear their respective patches with pride and impunity. Turei's speech was nothing more than a racist dog-whistle.
We applaud Chester Borrows for bringing the Bill this far, with the support of Michael Laws. It is NOT perfect, but it is a start. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step". It will indeed be a long journey to rid this country of criminal gangs, but if this legislation ultimately passes into law, it will, in our opinion be one important step along the way.
Liquor store owner Virender Singh will not stand trial.
Justice of the Peace M. Sinclair said after hearing conflicting and contradictory evidence in the Manukau District Court, there was no case for Mr Singh to answer.
Singh faced two charges of injuring with intent to injure over the incident at his Otara store last September. He denied the charges on the grounds he acted in self-defence.
Singh's lawyer Greg King argued Singh exercised his basic human right by defending himself and his shop from five drunken teenagers.
This is an excellent decision by the District Court on a charge that should never have been brought against Singh. It is a pretty rare event when a prosecution by the Police is so weak that it does not survive a depositions hearing. We hope that the Counties-Manukau police hierarchy will reflect on this decision, and the indecent haste they showed to make an example of Singh. Then they need to consider the effect that the decision to prosecute Singh had on the young thugs who visited him that day. In our opinion, it gave them licence to carry on with their bully-boy tactics and continue to intimidate their local community.
We do not condone violence, but on this occasion we believe that Virender Singh was totally justified in using his hockey stick for other-than-sporting purposes. Kia kaha Mr Singh!
Our main concern now is that somehow, Judith Tizard will be back in Parliament. That would rejuvenate the Labour Party wouldn't it!
Despite our frequent criticism of Helen Clark, especially in the run-up to the election, it would be churlish not to congratulate her, and wish her well which we do. But we will not as easily forget the legacy which she and Michael Cullen left New Zealand - a Decade of Deficts the worst, but also a host of social reforms for which she had no mandate.
11. BRENDON BURNS (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Local Government: Can he explain what he meant in telling the New Zealand Community Boards Conference in Christchurch last Friday that the new drinking-water standards being implemented are “ridiculous” and under review by the Government?
Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : Of
course I can.
You'd think that a publicly-elected official would be more careful with his choice of words from his mayoral e-mail address....
George Wood would never have done something like this!
Air New Zealand is working to minimise disruption for tens of thousands of travellers over Easter after some international cabin crew announced a four-day strike.
The airline has about 20,000 passengers booked over the Easter holiday weekend on transtasman and Pacific Islands flights.
Now we have a memory which goes back some distance, and we can well remember the Cooks and Stewards Union pulling stunts like this around peak times, leaving thousands stranded in Wellington and Picton while the ferries sat idle. This is bully-boy unionism of the worst kind.
We wonder which hat Andrew Little is wearing today - the militant EPMU one, or the more moderate Labour Party one. He can't continue to wear both when this kind of union extortion is going on.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
We are not surprised that Brash is angry, when we read this:
The mystery has only deepened as police stymie all attempts to disclose the file into the publication of Dr Brash's private emails.
In the latest letter rejecting a request to release the file under the Official Information Act, police have cited the need to protect onfidential informants. They have also insisted that the investigation remain open, despite a statement a year ago by outgoing police inspector Harry Quinn that the investigation was closed.
The time over which this investigation has proceeded, at snail's pace, is quite frankly an outrage. It is the sworn duty of the Police to investigate crime, without political fear or favour. This investigation now has the most dreadful stench hanging over it.
And what of Nicky Hager? We had a read of the Crimes Act 1961 the other day, and reckon that there are several possible offences which the Police could charge Hager with - here's a few:
- S228 - Dishonestly using a document for pecuniary gain - maximum penalty - 7 years imprisonment
- S240 - Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception - maximum penalty - 7 years imprisonment
- S246 - Receiving stolen property or obtained by any other crime - maximum penalty - 7 years imprisonment
- S249 (1) (b) - Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose (directly or indirectly), causing loss to any other person - maximum penalty - 7 years imprisonment.
Doubtless there are other possibilities, and perhaps one of the legal eagles who drop by from time to time may like to comment. However it may now be academic anyway, as the Statute of Limitations may apply, such has been the time delay.
This matter does not reflect well on the NZ Police, and does nothing to dispel the perception that the police hierarchy was closer to the Labour government than most people would consider healthy. Dr Brash is well within his rights to have gone public again, and doubtless, there will be many among the government who have both a clear memory of the events, and an opinion on the Police's reluctance to do anything.
So yesterday, yet another promise was kept - credit for additional lump-sum repayments on student loans. This is sensible policy, without going overboard. All the loan-holder has to do is to pay an additional $10 per week over the course of a year and they will get a 10% rebate over and above the amount they have repaid. Given that loan-holders don't start paying their loans off until they are employed, that's only a couple of coffees or beers a week.
And we all benefit! The loan-holder pays off his or her loan a bit faster, the government carries less debt, therefore has less interest to pay, and the burden on the taxpayer is reduced.
Whilst we were a bit luke-warm on the idea of interest-free student loans when National first subscribed to the policy, we now have two children at university, so we see things through different eyes!
Employers, particularly on a small scale, were loaded with many extra costs by the previous Government, which did not seem to appreciate the full impact on the margins of a small business of a liability as seemingly trifling as an additional week's holiday. It was an entitlement, moreover, that Labour would not allow to workers to sell. The employer did not have the option of paying staff a premium in lieu and covering the additional cost, the employee did not have the choice of earning extra cash rather than taking leave.
The mandatory element was important to the Labour Party and the union movement. They believe few employees are in a position to refuse if their boss would prefer them to work. But there will be just as many instances where the worker would prefer the extra money. Overtime opportunities are normally prized in the workplace and those not offered them seldom celebrate their good fortune.
Indeed. The previous government could not be described as business-friendly. The cost of compliance increased markedly during Labour's term, as did the time spent on compliance issues. We can testify to that from personal experience!
The leader writer also notes that there is no change whatsoever to the stautory entitlement; this is entirely a matter for agreement between employer and employee - if there is no agreement, it will not happen. It is also noted, in conclusion, that employer-employee loyalty is generally in a good state:
The last measures of unemployment, both the labour force survey in December and, more recently, the number on the dole by the end of last month, are surprisingly low. New Zealand employers have come through a long period when it was hard to find and keep good staff and they may be doing everything possible to keep them. This loyalty on both sides augurs for mutually satisfying decisions on the happy day that they can worry about holiday obligations again.
We find it difficult to disagree with this well-written piece.
Cabinet today decided that section 92A of the Copyright Act 1994 will not come into force on 27 March as scheduled, but will be amended to address areas of concern, Commerce Minister Simon Power said today.
Section 92A requires internet service providers (ISPs) to have a policy to terminate the internet account of repeat copyright infringers in appropriate circumstances.
"This legislation was put in place to combat unlawful file-sharing which facilitates copyright infringement on a large scale. Section 92A traverses an important issue in an emerging area of copyright law reform both in New Zealand and internationally," Mr Power said.
"This behaviour is very costly to New Zealand's creative industries and needs to be addressed."
Mr Power acknowledged efforts by ISPs and rights holders to negotiate an effective policy for the section's implementation.
"Allowing section 92A to come into force in its current format would not be appropriate given the level of uncertainty around its operation.
"These discussions have exposed some aspects of section 92A which require further consideration," Mr Power said.
"While the government remains intent on tackling this problem, the legislation itself needs to be re-examined and reworked to address concerns held by stakeholders and the government.
"The government will begin a review to amend the section immediately to address areas of concern.
"I am confident that amendments to section 92A, which builds on the work of ISPs and rights-holders to date, will lead to a more workable piece of legislation," Mr Power said.
Thanks National. The new government has listened to the concerns expressed by a wide variety of New Zealanders, ourselves included, and has acted accordingly. What a refreshing change from the previous administration which always thought it knew best! Now we can remove the black banner from Keeping Stock!!
And to Judith Tizard - thanks for nothing!!!
Monday, March 23, 2009
We reckon that this is wimpish behaviour from TVNZ. Graeme Burton has twice been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. That is an undisputable fact; a matter of public record, and a matter which attracted widespread publicity. If he had a trial coming up in June, perhaps TVNZ's decision could be justified. However he doesn't. There will be a depositions hearing in June to establish whether he has a case to answer. Given the state of the Court system, we reckon it would be highly unlikely that this case would get in front of a jury this year.
A television documentary featuring convicted double murderer Graeme Burton – due to air on Wednesday night – has been pulled by TVNZ.
TVNZ communications manager Megan Richards said the decision to reschedule the contentious "Beyond the Darklands" episode had been made late last week.
Burton had been seeking a court injunction against the broadcasting of the documentary about him, saying it could prejudice his trial.
However Burton’s lawyer, Peter Tomlinson, said the application for an injunction would now not go ahead after TVNZ made the decision to can the episode.
TVNZ had been made aware of Burton’s legal application, and after consideration had decided there may be an "unsafe distance" between the programme's airing and Burton's scheduled trial, Ms Richards said.
The episode will now not be shown until after Burton’s trial.
But once again. the lowlife complains and TVNZ caves in. We wonder if those who made this decision today are among the 90 TVNZ staff with axes poised above their necks.
A right-wing blogger, Whaleoil's Cameron Slater, has joined the political joust by making a request to the council under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act about how many bottles and how much was spent on the "Stop Banks" wine.
He said Mr Williams had spent ratepayers' money on his "silly little joke".
Mr Williams, who gave bottles of the wine to other mayors in Auckland - with exception of Mr Banks - at Christmas, believes he is the target of a political campaign.
He said that in the past week he had been criticised by Cam Slater - the son of Citizens & Ratepayers president John Slater and a friend of Mr Banks, Mr Banks' former press secretary Cameron Brewer, who now heads the Newmarket Business Association and Auckland City C&R councillor Aaron Bhatnagar.
Mr Brewer slammed Mr Williams for thanking those in the provinces lumped with a fuel tax to help Auckland's transport woes.
Mr Bhatnagar said Mr Williams' photo should be held up to anyone questioning the need for a local government shakeup.
Good stuff Whale! He even got a mention on Breakfast TV by Auckland reporter Amy Kelly, although she referred to him as a right-wing blogger - but we all know who she was talking about.
No doubt about it - this Andrew Williams seems to be a bit of an odd bird. And there's a personal element for us - we go way back with George Wood - we used to referee rugby with him when he was a Detective in Palmerston North many moons ago, and he's a damn fine bloke. We were a bit gobsmacked when he lost the mayoralty two years back, and we hope for a triumphant return in 2010.
Meantime, we'll do whatever we can to back WhaleOil - well done mate!
Dhoni felt nothing less than a series win would satisfy the Indians. "It's a great feeling, especially for guys who whose careers have spanned more than 10 years," he said. "They have played at most of the venues all over the world, and if it's the first win for them, it can't get better. But hopefully if we can win the series it will be great. One of the first milestones we have achieved is to take the lead, now it's important to play the same kind of cricket in the second and third game. Let's hope we win the series and that will be the best gift we can give to them [the seniors]."
Explaining the decision to move out, N Srinivasan, the BCCI general secretary, said the Indian board was not in a position to either play a truncated IPL or to cancel the tournament's second edition. "It is a matter of great regret that, in the prevailing atmosphere, where the government is expressing concern for providing security to the IPL matches, the BCCI is left with no other option but to conduct the IPL in another country," he said.
Manohar said the board considered all aspects of the matter at an mergency meeting. "We are aware that the people of India love this event and have given us great support last year and are eager for this year's event," he said. "We made our best efforts to see that the event takes place in India. However, because of the government's attitude that they cannot provide security, particularly by the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, we were forced to take a decision to move the event out of India.
Doubtless there will be a lot of relieved players who, following the recent events in Pakistan, had genuine concerns about plying their trade on the sub-continent. Without assurances from the Indian government that player safety could be guaranteed, it was hard to see the tournament proceeding, so the decision is both pragmatic and player-centred. We are a little surprised that the Australian Cricket Board hasn't jumped to the BCCI's aid as yet, given that Australia is probably the closest to India in terms of time-zones, however more may happen today. Stay tuned ...
Convicted double murderer Graeme Burton is seeking a court injunction against the broadcasting of a documentary about him, saying it could prejudice his right to a fair trial.
Burton is facing charges of attempted murder after allegedly stabbing another prison inmate with a knife in Auckland's maximum-security prison at Paremoremo on December 20.
He is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 26 years for killing Lower Hutt man Karl Kuchenbecker in January 2007. He was on parole at the time after serving 14 years for murder after stabbing Paul Anderson to death outside a Wellington nightclub in 1992.
The documentary series, Beyond the Darklands, which runs on Wednesdays on TV One, analyses notorious criminals and their crimes. Its promotional material says: "Using the expertise of forensic psychologist Nigel Latta and in-depth interviews with those intimately involved, Beyond the Darklands examines the minds and lives of these
For a start, if Burton is only up for depositions in June this year, that suggests that his trial won't be heard this year - and after all, Burton's certainly got time on his hands. Secondly, there must be few people likely to serve on a jury who haven't heard of Graeme Burton - to a degree, he's ALREADY prejudiced his own right to a fair trial! And lastly, who is paying Burton's legal fees? At a guess, it will you and us.
Whatever, the audience for this programme on Wednesday has already increased!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
However there is a story on the Herald's website today that we feel we must comment on. Under the headline "Love on hold for David Bain", the story, written by one Joseph Barratt begins thus:
David Bain has made a conscious decision to put love on hold until his new murder trial finishes, says his former flatmate and friend Deborah Read.
This is nothing but a "puff-piece", but more dangerously, it pre-supposes whatever verdict the trial jury may reach when the case is finally handed to them. We wonder whether this story was written on the initiative of the Herald on Sunday, or if it is the work of Bain's support team. Reflections such as these are also of concern:
During that time, Read said, she realised how much the public never saw of the real David Bain.
"All you would see in the news or the papers was a stressed, stern face as he walked into court," she said. "The David I know is a relaxed, funny, loveable guy."
"He's the same as everyone. When he has finished the day he just wants to put his feet up."
Are we reading too much into this, or are stories such as this intended to portray David Bain as just your normal guy. To write that "He's the same as everyone" is patently untrue - "everyone" is not on trial for five murders.
We'd appreciate your comments on the content of this post, but with a caveat - we reserve the right to delete posts that deal with matters that could be prejudicial to Bain's trial.