Thursday, April 30, 2009
After Phil Goff led off Labour's contribution to the debate, he left the House, followed by many of his caucus. A few remained, mainly those who were speaking in the debate. But Goff's seat did not remain vacant for long.
Yes indeed dear readers, Shane Jones delivered HIS speech in the General Debate (Labour's second speech) from the Leader of the Opposition's seat. And we have to say; he looked very pleased with himself. Mind you, Shane Jones does smug self-satisfaction better than most, except perhaps David Cunliffe. We wondered if Cunners himself would move into the hallowed seat, but no, he stayed in the #3 spot.
Was this a harbinger of things to come for Labour? Is Shane Jones the "annointed one"? Are the BBQ's sizzling, and are the knives being sharpened? And will Poor Phil get his choice of candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, or will Head Office, or - shock-horror - even the locals get their candidate of choice?
There have been lots of comings and goings in Labour since the election, and we reckon that the comings, and especially the goings haven't finished yet. But that's just our opinion, of course!
Two points stood out to us however, and deserve comment. Firstly, in the best traditions of the "we know what's best for you" mentality of Helen Clark's government, Cullen couldn't resist giving the government some advice as to how to manage the economy. Given that he had admitted towards the end of last year that the state of the economy was getting outside his comfort zone, we trust that his parting advice will be politely declined.
And secondly, he apologised. He admitted that he had made mistakes. We absolutely believe that the emotion in his voice as he apologised to those whom he had wronged was genuine. And what a contrast that was to Helen Clark's "I leave with no regrets" speech of a few weeks ago. Despite our ideological dislike for Michael Cullen, he grew in our estimation yesterday.
There are now two huge holes on the Opposition benches. Labour faces huges challenges in the weeks and months ahead.
We heard yesterday that seven athletes had tested positive for drugs after retests by the IOC, two of whom were medallists. This morning, it has been announced that one of those was the 1500m gold medallist Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain. A final decision will be made on June 8th, when Ramzi's "B" sample is tested, after which an IOC hearing will take place.
Whilst doubtless Nick Willis would rather have won a silver medal on the track, he should still be immensely proud of his achievement at Beijing. The use of performance-enhancing drugs is a cancer on sport, and something which we abhor, and we are delighted that this latest batch of cheats has been detected and unmasked.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
...the person who should be most grateful for the legacy left by Michael Cullen is the current Finance Minister Bill English
Whatever Phil. Is this what you were REALLY meaning when Audrey Young quoted you around the time of the budget last year - you might have forgotten this, but we haven't:
Phil Goff's revealing comments this week showed that Labour is into legacy politics and this is a legacy Budget - a legacy to National. It will make it harder for National to win and if it does win, it will make it harder to govern.
So what's YOUR legacy going to be Phil?
So whither now for the Labour Party? The loss of Clark and Cullen is going to leave a gaping chasm in Labour. Clark’s control-freakery was legend, and Cullen was the loyal lieutenant. Cullen also had a mastery of detail (politically we mean, not necessarily economically) - we remember John Tamihere's comment in the infamous Investigate article where he said that Cullen chould change one word in a piece of legislation, and change its whole intent. And Cullen, like him or loathe him, has been a tower of strength in the House for Labour. We suspect that Gerry Brownlee will be breathing more easily today!
But where Clark & Cullen succeeded and where Goff and King will not is in the area of caucus discipline. Labour is now full of mini-caucuses, each with its own agenda - you've got the unionists, the rainbow lobby, and of course, Helen may have gone, but there are still many in caucus who will be loyal to her until the day they die. We reckon that Goff and King don’t have the political skills, and perhaps even the will to manage these. Nor do they have Heather Simpson!
So we reckon that it’s not inconceivable that Cullen’s departure today could mark the end of the Labour Party as we know it. What do YOU reckon?
- Strike One - yesterday's revelations that David Shearer is a fan of private mercenaries, whilst as recently as 2003 Phil, according to Patrick Gower in this morniong's Herald referred to mercenary work as "paid murder"
- Strike Two - The same Gower story quotes Keeping Stock's old friend Jill Ovens of the Service and Food Workers Union ( and partner of our other old friend, "Megaphone Len" Richards) puts the kibbosh on Mr Shearer by playing the gender card. Gower says "The Service and Food Workers Union's northern region secretary, Jill Ovens, said the affiliated unions would not be endorsing any particular Labour candidate. She said her personal view was that it should be a woman, as Labour no longer had a female electorate MP in Auckland with the departure of Helen Clark."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
They've been caught short over David Shearer's endorsement of mercenaries, and in true Labour Party form, they've lashed out, accusing National of dirty tricks.
But isn't this the same Labour Party which sent its President rushing off to Melbourne on the eve of the last election to find the infamous H-fee documents? Oh yes, the Labour Party knows all about dirty tricks!
And that, dear readers, is why we are tonight accusing them of hypocrisy. And heck, we haven't even mentioned Phil Goff's screams of "secret agenda" at the Nats over privatisation, when all the while his mate David supports private armies.
Poor Phil. We bet he's wishing he never supped from the poisoned chalice that is the Labour Party leadership.
SAO PAULO - Police say a man in northeastern Brazil had his penis severed by his girlfriend who accused him of raping her daughter.
Police officer Fabio Gaudencio says 42-year-old Isaias Saturnino was sleeping at home last Friday when Maria da Silva used a kitchen knife to cut off his penis.
Gaudencio says Silva fled and remains at large.
Saturnino underwent reconstructive surgery and was in good condition on Monday, but is expected to stay at least two months in the hospital for observation.
Gaudencio says Silva's daughter accused Saturnino of raping her starting at age seven. She is teenager now. He hasn't been charged so far.
Gaudencio said Monday that Silva is expected to voluntarily turn herself in.
It brought back memories of the infamous couple John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt, who had their fifteen minutes of fame back in 1993 when she did him a similar mischief. Crikey, it brings tears to the eyes just thinking about it - the unkindest cut of all ...
Fellow bloggers Barnsley Bill and WhaleOil are talking in riddles this morning - the common thread is the Parliamentary Library, and the accuracy and impartiality of its staff. But the rest of it is all a bit odd.
Then we came to this bit on Barnsley Bill's post:
Which probably counts me out, and I would imagine every other partisan blogger in this country as well.
Is he saying what we THINK he's saying? Someone, please help us get to the bottom of this!
A young boy was used as a courier in an attempt to smuggle drugs into Christchurch Men's Prison on Saturday.
Prison manager John Roper said staff saw a woman reach into the child's pants, remove something and hide it in his jersey after she came through the prison's entrance.
"We detained the woman and the four children with her under the Corrections Act and found a package with what appeared to be cannabis oil, pills and methamphetamine," he said.
Police went to the prison and arrested the woman, who was allowed to organise childcare for the children before she was taken away.
We're pretty hard, and pretty cynical, but this story sickened us. What chance do those children have of living normal lives? And worse; how many more families like this are out there?
And he also taught all of us who worked for him to keep the human aspect of political endeavours alive in all we do. When he called his wife throughout the day to ask what she was doing or to share a laugh about an on-air scrap he had with Sean Plunket, we were reminded that we shouldn't let our ambitions overshadow our relationships and families.
When he admitted to shedding a few tears when he feared a foreshore and seabed negotiation might collapse after years of work (later saved), he taught us about investing personally and emotionally in what we did.
And when at 63 he complained about his regular illnesses and chronic fight with sleeplessness and yet still delivered virtuoso performances in policy meetings and at question time, he left an office filled with twenty- and thirtysomethings in amazement.
Michael Cullen is known to all - even his enemies - as a man who worked tirelessly to better the fortune of New Zealanders.
By and large our politicians do work hard (although there are well-publicised exceptions!); something we tend to overlook when criticising them. And whilst Knauf reveals the human side to Cullen, it is his political legacy that he will be remembered for - and that legacy will not be remembered fondly by Keeping Stock. Knauf also touches on Cullen's crankiness, and he will of course be remembered for some infamous jibes which were caught on camera.
And whither now for Labour? Is Cullen the "glue" that has been holding the ship together since the election? We believe that he is, and from that perspective, Labour will miss Cullen far more than they miss Helen Clark.
Monday, April 27, 2009
We know precious little about medical matters such as A/H1N1 swine flu, but MacDoctor does, and so we shall consult him. We have no doubt that the coverage he will be giving this latest health scare will be comprehensive, and delivered with a good helping of common-sense.
So enjoy the action, and kids; don't try this at home!
Then there was the establishment of a blog called The Standard. The Labour Party ran a weekly newspaper from 1934 to 1959 that published political material. It was subject to the normal journalistic standards of the time. But the new blog version made no pretence at following even the reduced journalistic standards of modern times. Registered to an address in Helen Clark’s electorate, and operating out of the Beehive under ministerial supervision, it gave an airing to innuendo and false stories that ministers hoped might get picked up by the mainstream media. They often did. Indeed, several gullible reporters happily took their leads from the Beehive’s dirty tricks brigade. I saw an email sent by Ruth Dyson that had clearly been prepared by her apparatchiks. It denounced me, and urged her mailing list to protest to a newspaper that was running my columns. I’m told that the apparatchiks watched the news, made it their business to pick up material, true or false, and fed lines to people like Brian Rudman of the Herald. The same dirty tricksters fabricated a story about John Key that had Mike Williams rushing to Melbourne to check records, only to return empty handed, and red-faced, just before the election.
Reference to our friends at The Standard attracted our attention of course. We're all familiar with their denials that they are anything to do with the Labour Party, but there has been plenty to suggest otherwise. Bassett details the modus operandi that The Standard's authors used pre-election, especially Clinton "Steve Pierson" Smith, who ran an ongoing campaign of smears and innuendo about John Key. And he tells us where the money came from:
The significance of all this is that New Zealand’s Labour dirty tricksters were all on the public payroll. They operated mostly from the Prime Minister’s Office where Helen Clark appeared to operate a kind of training school for younger versions of herself: people with degrees and absolutely no experience of life. Graduates of student politics, they regarded possession of the reins of power as some form of divine right. Mostly in their 20s, they were designated “advisers to the Prime Minister”. Since they had little general knowledge, and consequently nothing to advise with, they were paid good money, and put to work on dirty tricks. Several are now on Labour’s backbenches, where they are still being supported by the taxpayer. The Standard still exists, but it has been hollowed out by the end of the Beehive’s funding. It would be interesting to know whether, in its current withered state, it is being funded from Phil Goff’s office.
So that leaves two alternatives. Either The Standard WAS directed by the parliamentary Labour Party (and we would love to know which Minister called the shots) and funded by you and us, the taxpayer, or Michael Bassett is telling porkies. Which takes us back to the title of this post - why would Michael Bassett lie?
Well, we don't think he has. We rather choose to believe that all those self-righteous denials from the various authors at The Standard were hollow, and that they are the real Hollow Men.
How I cringe at my thoughtlessness (I liked the green ones best). Just think: I was decapitating people. And what a wakeup call it is to learn that the polar folks don't really eat vanilla ice cream squares coated in chocolate. I had so envied them.
Now that I'm sensitised to the issue, I find our classic Kiwi cookbooks and confectionery are awash in further wrongdoing. I'll be lodging a raft of complaints myself, at many high levels, as a result, and under numerous headings.
Cultural insensitivity to Maori: Here I'm citing the Aunt Daisy Cookbook for its Maori Kisses (Eggless). What is the meaning behind the egglessness? Was she implying that Maori don't know how to bake? Worse, was she suggesting that they lack chickens? And in passing, was there a hint that Maori osculate, when we all know they hongi?
She goes on through the whole list, and if you like a bit of anti-PC with your morning cuppa, we reckon it's a great read - enjoy!
Zuma has also made it clear, through aides, that he will not side with African dictators just because they are African.
Sudan's President Hassan Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, has been warned not to come to South Africa for the presidential inauguration because he will be arrested and handed over.
Similarly, one can say once and for all that South Africa's quiet diplomacy toward Robert Mugabe is well and truly over.
Zuma has criticised the strategy and he is known to be a supporter of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change.
We would love that to be the case, but we are unconvinced. Our initial impressions of Zuma, formed from afar, are of another African politician who talks the talk, but who may find the reality of politics somewhat different. We hope that we are wrong, but we note that even Mugabe himself started public life with the pureist of motives.
We will be watching Joseph Zuma closely. Anything that he initiates to weaken Mugabe's grip on power in Zimbabwe will be welcome, and will be a marked change from the shameful indifference shown by Zuma's predecessor, Thabo Mbeki. But we won't be holding our breath.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Poor Phil and his mates can't seem to get anything right can they. By-elections are not about parties first and foremost; they are about CANDIDATES - and of course, Labour doesn't have one yet, with reports of a power struggle between the Clark faction (Meg Bates) and the Goff faction (David Shearer). Stuff says:
Labour leader Phil Goff kick-started his party's campaign for the Mt Albert by-election this afternoon, despite the party not yet having chosen a candidate for the seat.
Mr Goff was one of a dozen people who gathered in Mt Albert to put up signs about 1pm today.
Someone needs to tell Poor Phil that signs should really have a candidate's name on them, or else they are nothing but a party advertisement. Perhaps someone will, after the next BBQ.
Why would we say that? Simple. Matt McCarten is ripping in to Phil Goff and the Labour Party in today's Herald on Sunday. And guess what. There's a double dose of Hades ice - we agree with Matt McCarten - on this issue as well. He says:
It's ironic that in the same week we commemorate the courage of young men who died in battle, our new Labour Party leaders hoisted up the white flag in Helen Clark's vacant seat.
It's been an open secret for some time that Phil Twyford was being groomed to take over the Mt Albert seat when Clark moved on. He lives in the electorate and shares his electorate office with the former PM. Twyford is seen as one of the outstanding future leaders of the Labour Party with a distinguished resume.
Under normal circumstances, Twyford would be the standard bearer for the upcoming byelection and would have had a long tenure as the local MP.
But in a stunning display of political cowardice, the Labour Party national hierarchy this week knee-capped Twyford. The political assassination of one of their best and brightest is one of the most disloyal and treacherous political acts I've seen.
What is disheartening is that Labour's action wasn't from a place of principled strategy but the result of hysteria generated by their political opponents.
And better still, McCarten tells us just who it is that has made Goff and Labour cower with terror - it's us; the right wing bloggers!!
I salute the right-wing bloggers, who mischievously instigated a destabilising campaign against Labour by writing that National could win Mt Albert if Twyford was the Labour Party nominee. Twyford is a current list MP. Their genius was in pointing out that if Twyford won - as was widely assumed - then Judith Tizard, as the next-highest place list candidate, would be entitled to return to Parliament to replace Twyford's vacant list spot.
The bloggers claimed that Twyford's campaign would be overshadowed by the furore of the supposedly unpopular Tizard slipping back into Parliament.
"Mea culpa" we say! We have indeed posted in the vein that McCarten refers to, although we freely acknowledge that Kiwiblog and Whale Oil Beef Hooked have led the charge. We have been but mere footsoldiers under their generalship.
And as McCarten reaches his conclusion, we have to admit that we find very little in his piece to disagree with - he ends thus:
Labour has successively inoculated itself against the Tizard problem, but it may find the political consequence of its so-called solution is worse than the original problem.
I suspect that the Green Party will do well. If the National Party puts up a strong, liberal candidate, there is a possibility that it will pull off the impossible and win the seat. If Labour loses the seat or squeaks back with a small margin, Goff will have to take the can. Not an auspicious start and possibly fatal for his leadership.
In the same week that we celebrate Kiwi mateship under gunfire, our Labour leaders demonstrated how they acted under political fire. They panicked, chopped Twyford and Tizard off at the knees and ran for cover.
Richard Prebble once said to me that no politician can make it without courage. In this respect, Goff - in his first test as leader - has failed. If I was a Labour MP I wouldn't volunteer to share a foxhole with Goff when the shooting starts.
Poor Phil! Anyone for a BBQ?
Firstly, might we say that the train service to the Westpac Stadium is top-drawer. We drove to Paraparaumu, parked the car,and for $16 return, got the train right to the CakeTin. What was even better was that the train was right on time, and there was time for a cold ale with Inventory Junior at the Bankbencher before we wandered up to the stadium. Our seats were great, which was just as well, because there was action aplenty at the 'Tin.
First-up was that rarest of breeds these days; a curtainraiser! It was a match between New Zealand Army and the Ocker counterparts; what better way to observe Anzac Day? And whatever our Army lacks in equipment, it makes up for in footy prowess, running out a comprehensive victor. Then we had an Army band entertain, followed by a brief but moving Anzac commemoration.
Then the real action started. The Brumbies scored an early try, but after that, to use military parlance, went AWOL. But take nothing away from the Hurricanes. The giant immediately awoke from his slumber, and the Hurricanes turned on 77 minutes of sublime rugby to run to a 56-7 victory. We won't try and write a match review, but Paul Lewis covers the match well in today's Herald.
There were too many heroes last night to laud them all, but we will single out Cory Jane, David Smith and Ma'a Nonu for special attention. To see Nonu sit Stirling Mortlock on his bum with a fend and a hip shift was a sight to behold indeed!!
And just when you thought things couldn't get any better for the mighty 'Canes, it has. With all teams now having played 10 matches, the Hurricanes sit atop the S14 standings, and their run-in to the end of the round-robin suggests that they could well stay there. The match between the 'Canes and the Chiefs at Hamilton in a fornight could be an absolute cracker, whilst we are busily checking our schedule today to see if a return trip to Welly might be an option this weekend when the 'Canes take on/to the hapless Blues! Bring it on!!
And once we had recovered from the shock of intermittent-to-nil cellphone signal resulting in a similar non-level of internet access, we realised that life can actually be lived without telecommunications for a couple of days - at a pinch! But we are glad to be home to our broadband connection!!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The Inventory whanau will be typical of many. Our maternal grandfather was a veteran of Gallipoli; our father was a member of the 2nd NZ Expiditionary Force (NZEF) in the North Africa campaign, and later in Greece, and our eldest brother saw action in Vietnam. We, by the grace of God, have missed war, and pray that our children and theirs will be likewise spared.
So today, here's another musical reflection - The Pogues song "And the band played Waltzing Matilda", set to images from the Great War. We found it incredibly moving, and trust that you will too, and the futility of war was never better expressed than in these words from the second verse:
"Then we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs;
then we started all over again"
Friday, April 24, 2009
But it's Friday now, and we will be spending at least part of the day on the golf course down the Kapiti Coast - the joys of self-employment! But that doesn't mean that we can't have a Friday Forum, so here 'tis! Have your say; rant and rave; you know the drill!
The floor is yours ...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been awarded an honorary doctorate.
The degree, from the University of Auckland, is a Doctor of Laws.
Are they taking the mickey? Laws?? Sadly, we think not - read on:
Chancellor Roger France said in a written statement that the degree recognised Helen Clark's "enormous contribution to New Zealand and on the international stage".
"Helen Clark had made a mark nationally and internationally in a way that few leaders can aspire to.
A Doctor of Laws though? Let's not forget, this is the woman behind Paintergate and Speedgate, the woman whose party stole $800k from the taxpayer to win the 2005 election, whose party rammed though retrospective legislation to legitimise their actions. This is the woman who whose government severed links to the Privy Council with no consultation. This is the woman who used hate speech to vilify a religious group, and the woman who foistered the reviled Electoral Finance Act on us - a piece of legislation described even by the Human Rights Commission, hardly an ally of then-opposition parties as "a dramatic assault on freedom of expression and the right to participate in an election".
Doubtless other readers will have their own views, and we'd love to hear them. Had the honorary doctorate been in some area of social science we would not have had a problem with it, but we do not believe that "Helen Clark" and "Laws" are compatible terms.
Tumeke have crossed the line. as of today this blog will not share stats with Holocaust Promoters. I do not wish to be included in their blog rankings and have sent Tim Selwyn and email withdrawing from participation in statistics with proven Holocaust Promoters. I also want any links from them removed. i do not want to taint my blog with any link from them. Here is why;
WhaleOil goes on to pretty much dismantle Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury's inflammatory post on waterboarding, before turning to Bomber's mate Tim Selwyn for this post on the UN's racist conference in Geneva. And WhaleOil takes particular exception to this statement from Selwyn, on the subject of the Iranian President's address to the conference:
Problem is though, what he said, it's all true isn't it? The Jewish State is set up for Jews - quite specifically to benefit them as a race and a religion - and they carry out massacres in refugee camps (like they did earlier this year) in order to carry out the colonial/land confiscation/occupation/subjugation template upon which Zionism has been practiced. That's all true isn't it - no matter how you cut it. So he said it at the right place but he said it at the wrong time - Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day gave the extra pressure on Poland and Germany to cave. NZ was not there to even listen.
The situation in Israel and Palestine is complex, and there have been rights and wrongs on both sides. However Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's address to the conference was inexcusable. This is a man who, among other things wants the Jewish state wiped from the face of the earth. And here in New Zealand, he seems to have the wholehearted support of the team from Tumeke.
Tim and Bomber are, of course entitled to their opinions. But so are we. And henceforth, we wish to have no association with Tumeke, or its monthly blog rankings. We will not go as far as to ban the Tumeke authors from Keeping Stock should they wish to comment on or debate any issue - to do so would be to inhibit free speech, which is something we cherish. However we have no wish to have Keeping Stock promoted by a blog which advocates for the destruction of a legitimate state.
We've already locked and loaded an Anzac Day tribute for dawn on Saturday, but we were struck by Garth George's column in this morning's Herald. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but he regularly speaks common-sense with which we often agree. Today is no exception - he begins:
You read silly things people say in the newspapers every day but the silliest in recent weeks came from the president of the RSA, Robin Klitscher.
He said young Kiwis should stay away from Gallipoli this Anzac Day because partying Antipodeans might damage the peninsula and disrespect the dead.
Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Klitscher said the thousands of New Zealanders and Australians making the annual pilgrimage were a huge imposition on Turkish authorities, and showing restraint would be "more in keeping with honouring the Anzacs who lie there forever".
Bullshit. The Turks do not find the vast crowds who flock to the Gallipoli Peninsula every Anzac Day to be an imposition - and never have.
On the contrary, when I attended the 90th anniversary observances at Anzac Cove and Chunuk Bair in 2005 I found their reception invariably welcoming and friendly.
He's quite right. And after recounting some of his experiences of four years ago, George makes some very telling observances, with which we agree wholeheartedly. We will make no comments at the conclusion, but would be delighted to receive your comments.
Later, at the New Zealand national service on Chunuk Bair, the feature of the day for me was the presence of so many young New Zealanders.
It was comforting to see them there, free of schoolteachers and university pedants, for they were unable to avoid a stern and valid on-the-spot lesson in their nation's fundamental history.
That's why they're there in their thousands, and why so many more young people are attending memorial services in this country on Anzac Day.
They want to connect with their nation's history, some with their family history too. They are not taken in by the milk-sop pacifism preached in their schoolrooms and lecture halls, or by the politically correct gaps in the laundered history they have been taught.
They want to know where they come from because that helps them know where they are going. It is a wonderful thing and it needs to be encouraged, as it was by Prime Minister John Key in his firm rebuttal of Mr Klitcher's nonsense.
The thousands of youngsters who will attend Anzac services throughout this country, at Gallipoli and elsewhere in the world on Saturday might even go forth from those sacred places with a new understanding of what things like patriotism, duty, honour, courage and sacrifice really mean.
And, lest we forget, that virtues such as those never change.
The Dom-Post this morning reports the gloomy news that not only does New Zealand face a decade of deficits; the extent of that level is worse than we imagined. How bad is $50 billion? The Dom-Post drops a hint:
The recession was expected to blow a $50b hole in the economy during the next three years, plunging the Government further into the red as costs climb and tax revenues fall.
"That's $50 billion we will not recover as a nation, and $50 billion that cannot be taxed by the Government," Mr English told a business audience in Auckland.
Of course, Labour races to distance itself from any fallout:
Labour leader Phil Goff said the Government was softening the public up for a broken promise on tax cuts.
"I think [Mr English] is making the situation as black as he can in order to justify breaking a promise on tax cuts and slashing services to New Zealanders."
Sorry Phil, but it doesn't work like that. You and your mates, especially the good Dr Cullen held the purse-strings for the last nine years, and this is your legacy and his. Less than six months has passed since the last election, but Phil seems determined to re-write history. He won't get away with it here!
Sure, the global economic situation is not flash, and has undoubtably contributed to our financial woes. But we do not for one moment subscribe to the view that Michael Cullen was a great Finance Minister - in our opinion, he was anything but. And he foreshadowed the black hole almost a year ago:
The cupboard is almost bare and that is the way Michael Cullen planned the 2008 Budget.
He has delivered a Budget that offers a little of something for almost everyone but his biggest gift is to National - an election-year headache.
There is so little cash left to play with, $1.75 billion, that National will have little headroom to make attractive tax promises without saying what funding commitments Labour has made it will scrap.
That is what Michael Cullen promised and that is what he has delivered. The $1.75 billion isn't real either because $750 million of it was earmarked for health long ago.
Phil Goff's revealing comments this week showed that Labour is into legacy politics and this is a legacy Budget - a legacy to National. It will make it harder for National to win and if it does win, it will make it harder to govern.
Cullen can walk away from politics, but his legacy will be a millstone around our necks for years to come. And Goff may play the role of the injured innocent today, but Audrey Young's comment above, dated 22 May 2008 make it plain that this is exactly what Labour wanted.
Meanwhile, ask the 250 about-to-be-redundant IRD staff what they think about the former government inflating the public service to mask unemployment. We suspect that the replies would not be complimenatary towards the good Dr Cullen.
As we said in a post on Kiwiblog some time ago, it's fitting that Cullen was, in a former life, a lecturer in economic history - because he's done his best to make New Zealand's economy history!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"We have no intention to rename, reshape or remove the product, and trust that consumers will continue to enjoy Pascall Eskimos," Cadbury spokesman Daniel Ellis said.
Controversy over the iconic sweets erupted after a Canadian tourist visiting New Zealand raised concerns. Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said they were an insult and planned to send packets of the confectionary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a tribal elder.
A Christchurch academic has also called the sweets offensive saying Inuit friends in Canada likened the popular sweet to "eating white people".
In a statement today Pascall/Cadbury said Eskimos were "an iconic New Zealand lolly".
The company produced almost 19 million individual Eskimos last year, which made it "one of our most sought after".
The company said it was disappointed to learn the sweet had caused concern, but this was only the second time in the product's 54 year history that it had received such a complaint.
"This shows that the overwhelming majority of consumers do not find Eskimos to be offensive."
And so say all of us here at Keeping Stock. But we despair when we read this kind of nonsense from supposed "academics" - especially when said nonsense emanates from someone who might well be lecturing our Darling Daughter at some point in the next few years - cop a load of this:
But Canterbury University's Dr Nicole Gombay, who studies Inuit politics and culture, says she was shocked to see the Cadbury/Pascall lolly for sale when she arrived in New Zealand three years ago.
"I find it odd that the sweets are for sale… obviously it doesn't mean as much to people here."
After sending packets of the sweets to two Inuit friends, they responded, saying: "imagine us eating white people."
Dr Gombay said while the sweet’s image – a small snowsuited figure - was "a normal representation" of Inuit culture, it was no longer relevant.
"It would be like putting an African in mud hut with a grass skirt and a bone in his head."
"They have microwaves, cable TVs, dishwashers… and go for holidays in New Zealand."
She believed it was also offensive because food shortages had been an issue for Inuit people in the past. "The notion of cannibalism is a real thing."
She did not believe changing the sweet's name would have changed the situation. "It doesn’t change what it is."
Well pardon us Dr Gombay, but we are NOT cannibals. We will however seek out a packet of Eskimos today so that we can devour them, just for you!
Audrey Young reports this morning that a "bitter feud" has erupted between de Bres and Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Young says:
Mr de Bres attended the conference independently and publicly criticised the Government for pulling out, implying it was trying to please the United States. But Mr McCully believes Mr de Bres has no business criticising foreign policy and implied that Mr de Bres was a Labour Party hack.
Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said she did not believe he overstepped any line. She said the Human Rights Commission - which is funded and appointed by the Government - had to be independent from the Government.
Mr de Bres was appointed by Labour for a second five-year term, through to September 2012.
Rosslyn Noonan is nowt but another Labour Party hack. Let us be in no doubt about that. And we are sure that both she and de Bres are delighted that they are not wholly independant of the government on the day their salary goes into their respective bank accounts.
And McCully leaves us in no doubt as to his opinion of de Bres's motivation:
Mr McCully took exception to the implications that New Zealand had boycotted it because the US had and he suggested Mr de Bres was politically motivated.
"I am not sure whether he is there is an official capacity or as a representative of the Labour Party," Mr McCully said before leaving for Singapore.
"But nevertheless the suggestion that we have been over-influenced by any of the other countries who have decided to withdraw is completely wrong."
"I have got a strong preference for a position where the New Zealand public elect their Government in general elections and then that Government - with advice from the ministry - goes about determining our foreign policy rather than having Mr Bres elect himself as our foreign policy guru.
Noonan and de Bres are supposedly intelligent people, even though both view the world through distinctly red-tinted glasses. But neither seems intelligent enough to realise that the political landscape changed on 8 November 2008. We look forward to reporting their respective resignations in the very near future.
Labour is extending an olive branch to Maori and the National-led Government by offering a bipartisan approach to the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.
It is a conciliatory move by Labour MP - and former deputy Prime Minister - Michael Cullen, who is retiring from Parliament next week, and an acceptance that the present law is unacceptable to most Maori.
Labour's new position is a shift from the law it passed, as it would allow iwi and hapu to claim customary title.
This right was extinguished in Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act.
Surely - Labour's not going to become National-lite is it?
"Don't touch me" you shrilled! That's pretty ironic, when it is less than eighteen months ago you stood in the dock charged with assault.
"He hasn't done a KiwiHost course" you thundered. That's pretty rich too, coming from a bloke who once threatened indecencies with a Heineken bottle, who falsely accused National of having an "American bagman", and who made the jibes about Don Brash's alleged affair.
And Trevor - you were set up last night. No wonder Paul Henry sniggered throughout; he must have loved the power he was exerting over you. Did you really think that you'd surprise the moteliers? Did you really think they weren't watching TV One as you snuck up on them? Sorry Trevor, but you were had!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Phil Goff will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. No Twyford equates to no Tizard - for now, at least. BUT (and yes, it is a big "but"), Judith Tizard is still the next cab off the rank from Labour's list should someone other list MP decide to shuffle off into the sunset, or shuffle off this mortal coil. And given that there are many Labour MP's who have lost their electorate seats over the last two elections, Phil's relief may be temporary only.
Oh dear; how sad; never mind!
Stuff is carrying the story of a visitor to our fine shores who doesn't find an iconic confectionery item particularly sweet - read this:
A staple lolly of the New Zealand 50-cent mixture has angered a Canadian tourist for its offensive name and shape.
Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, says the Eskimo lolly, manufactured by Cadbury/Pascall, is an insult to her people.
The word Eskimo is unacceptable in her country and carries with it negative racial connotations, she said.
She intends sending packets of the iconic confectioncry to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a Inuit tribal elder in the Nunavut Territory.
When she found the lollies for sale in Timaru three weeks ago she was surprised a company would be able to use the word for a product.
"I was taken aback. When I was a little girl white kids in the community used to tease me about it in a bad way. It's just not the correct term."
Eskimo was long used to describe the native people of the northern territories of Canada and means "eater of raw meat", said Ms Parsons.
But it has not been acceptable for as long as she can remember. The correct term is Inuit, she says.
For goodness' sake. You just know what's going to happen now, don't you - Cadbury/Pascall will be forced to either rename the Eskimo (which we love eating), or worse still, have to withdraw them from sale completely. And that is patently absurd! Where would it end? Will black jellybeans be next? And let's not even start talking about Jaffas!!
So, as the old song says - we're not going to take it anymore. We've had enough of this politically correct nonsense. So right now, Keeping Stock is leading a crusade to defend Cadbury/Pascall against this infringement of our culinary rights. Join us, and send your message of support to the fine folks at Cadbury/Pascall here.
Save the Eskimo!
UPDATE: The campaign is already gaining momentum. WhaleOil has set up a Facebook group.
How do we justify that statement? Check out this story from TVNZ. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said exactly what the countries boycotting the conference knew he would. TVNZ reports:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a rare walk-out at the United Nations when he called Israel a "cruel and repressive racist regime" in his remarks to a conference on race.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the address which prompted dozens of delegates to leave their seats, further undermining the summit which some Western powers including the United States are boycotting.
"It was a very troubling experience for me as secretary-general," he told a news conference at the day's end. "I have not seen, experienced, this kind of disruptive proceedings of the assembly, the conference, by any one member state. It was a totally unacceptable situation."
If Ban Ki-moon is that naive about the Iranian president and his anti-semetic rhetoric, given his previous form, then he is unfit to hold the office of Secretary-General. This conference has become an absolute farce, and rightly exposes the UN to further ridicule. Or is it simply that the UN has double standards - a high tolerance of critics of Israel, and the need to organise conferences to condemn those who dare to criticise Islamic states? We hope not, but we fear otherwise.
Guyon Espiner has just revealed on Breakfast that Joris de Bres is attending the Geneva UN conference on racism, despite a decision by the government to boycott the racist conference. Somehow, we don't imagine de Bres will have made any friends in the new administration by this action.
And who, we wonder, is picking up his tab?
A Palmerson North motel with its own "Basil Fawlty" has banished an entire town from its doorstep.
The 16,000 residents of the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata were slapped with a blanket ban by Palmerston North's Supreme Motor Lodge this week, after a series of misdemeanours by visiting sports teams.
Supreme's owner, Steve Donnelly-an Australian- said guests from Wainuiomata were more trouble than they were worth.
"Having had about a hundred people from there over the last couple of years and maybe one that we liked ... it is not worth it and we would do the same to anyone who causes us that level of stress."
Sports teams from Wainuiomata High School and the town's indoor sports club were accused of spitting, playing loud music at night, using obscene language and being unruly.
"Everyone there refuses to acknowledge the problem, and accuses the world of being out to get them. I've been there once ... I was surrounded by graffiti, and I thought, `I don't want to spend much time here'."
We love it! And we apologise to anyone with links to Wainuiomata who is offended by us loving it, but it's a gem of a story. And one high-profile Wainuiomata progeny is especially outraged (our emphasis added):
Labour MP Trevor Mallard, born and bred in Wainuiomata, said the move was absolutely outrageous.
"It's stupid and very, very unfair. It shows the sort of blind prejudice I thought we didn't have in New Zealand anymore. I'm not surprised the [owner's] Australian."
At least Trev's not suggesting a Heineken solution this time, although we wondered if he pondered the inherent "blind prejudice" of his own statement. Perhaps he'll Tweet about it later in the day!
Monday, April 20, 2009
New Zealand's no-show at an anti-racism UN meeting is "cowardly", says the Green Party.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully confirmed New Zealand will not take part in the conference today.
But Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Keith Locke said just because New Zealand may disagree with some of the speeches, that is no reason not to withdraw from the debate.
"The whole point of the UN is that it encompasses a diversity of voices," Mr Locke said.
"There may be some criticism of Israel at the meeting, but surely that is par for the course at UN meetings, and has some validity given the way a number of Israeli administrations have treated Palestinians, particularly those residing in Gaza," he said.
Now let's get something straight here. The Greens are big-time supporters of Palestine, and of the terrorists pretending to be politicians who go by the name of Hamas - Keith Locke especially. So this criticism of the government really falls into the "same-old same-old" basket. But what really caught our eye in the Herald story, buried quite a way down was this:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - who repeatedly has called for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust - is slated to speak on the first day.
We are picking that making the call to bypass this "conference" will actually be one of the easier decisions that Murray McCully has had to make as Foreign Minister!
Our local rag, the Wanganui Chronicle carries a small story on the back page today about the Red Bull F1 team's surprise victory last night in the Chinese Grand Prix. So we send our hearty congratulations to the subbie that came up with this gem:
Bull in a China shock
We love your work!
The first interview I had with Clark is indelibly etched in my memory. It was election night 1993 at the hotel workers' union building in Auckland. Mike Moore was Labour leader and had come close to ousting Bolger after one term, the surprising result that prompted Bolger's "bugger the pollsters" remark.
At the end of the night I asked Clark if the close result meant that Mike Moore's leadership was safe.
Yes, she said.
It wasn't until I started in press gallery the following year that I learned there was only thing MPs are permitted to lie about with impunity - leadership spills. And I have been on the receiving end of a few lies in that regard.
Audrey Young farewells Helen Clark from Aotearoa's shores with a rather cynical reflection on when politicians are allowed to tell a porkie.
Everton 4; Manchester United 2 (on penalties)
The Scum exit the FA Cup. The only sadness we feel is that it was not the mighty Arsenal who rolled Sir Alex's finest. But that will happen soon enough!
The Herald reports on Helen Clark's departure to New York (together with Heather Simpson), and the commencement today of the trial of Taito Philip Field on bribery and corruption charges whilst a Labour MP, a trial unprecedented in New Zealand's political history.
Surely, it's just a coincidence that Helen Clark has shot through to start her new job with the squeaky-clean United Nations
Sunday, April 19, 2009
We'll be keeping a close eye on Wilkinson's progress tomorrow morning, as he tries to become the third player from the Manawatu Golf Club to win on golf's "big tour". Let's hope the wind gets up, because that's one thing that won't faze the gritty Palmerston North player!