Sunday, May 31, 2009

All Blacks named

The first All Black squad of the 2009 season has been named, and in Richie McCaw's absence, the team will be captained by Mils Muliaina.

First-time All Blacks are Wyatt Crockett, Tanerau Latimer and Isaac Ross, whilst Rodney So'oialo is a surprise ommission, although he has looked jaded in recent weeks, and may be getting freshened up rpior to the Tri-Nations in July.

We haven't been to an AB's test match for quite a few seasons, so we are looking forward to another visit to Wellington on June 20th to watch the second test against France.

The full All Black squad is: Backs: Mils Muliaina (captain), Cory Jane, Joe Rokocoko, Rudi Wulf, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Isaia Toeava, Ma'a Nonu, Stephen Donald, Piri Weepu, Jimmy Cowan, Brendon Leonard

Forwards: Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer, Adam Thomson, Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Isaac Ross, John Afoa, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock, Wyatt Crockett, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu.

Another case of SFNS?

SFNS?? If you read WhaleOil's blog, you'll know that represents the affliction which he has christened Silly First Name Syndrome. And indeed, it seems to be spreading at a much faster rate than Swine Flu!

And there's another case to report this morning. The Herald on Sunday has the story of an Auckland teacher who now lives in fear after an obsessed prison inmate was twice able to pose as a police officer and obtain the woman's personal details - from behind bars!

We won't rehash the details of the case, which you can read at the above link. But the name of the jailbird, and the link to SFNS ...

Elton John Taniora-Waitai

She didn't win!!!

Shock, horror! Stuff reports that "Internet sensation" Susan Boyle has only finished SECOND in that most highly esteemed televison show Britain's Got Talent. The final was won by a dance troupe by the politically correct name of Diversity.

Ele from Homepaddock will be deeply traumatised!

Who should decide?

This morning's Herald on Sunday editorial asks whether the Police or the Courts should decide whether there or not there is a case to answer for the police officer(s) who fatally shot Halatau Naitoko.

The editorial raises some very interesting points, but most of all this one:

This is not a quibble, but a fundamental plank in our constitutional arrangements: Parliament makes the law; the police enforce it and apprehend those who break it; the courts decide whether the police have proved their case. The police have discretion to decide not to act - if an offence is trivial, for example - and they make such decisions every day. But when somebody dies, such police discretion becomes a luxury we dare not afford.

The leader writer is spot on here, and we wonder at times if the police overstep their role, and actually usurp the role of the Courts and the Judiciary. And as we noted over at Kiwiblog on Friday, the Police seem keen to make legal decisions with regard to breaches of electoral legislation - breaches which, in our considered but non-legal opinion should be tested by the Courts - do you agree?

Christian Music Showcase - 31/5/2009

Well, it's the last day of May, so it's the last day of our New Zealand Music Month series. And because it's the fifth Sunday in May, it's the last of our Christian Music Showcases. We hope that any perceptions of Christian music being dull and boring have been blown away as we've featured Rapture Ruckus, Magnify, Mumsdollar and juliagrace, not to mention today's featured artist. And this one should please Ele from Homepaddock, who laid down the challenge in the first place!

We first saw Brooke Fraser perform at the Celebrate Jesus gig at Wellington's Cake Tin in 2000. She was 16 at the time, and we were absolutely blown away by her amazing voice, her stage presence, and the maturity of the lyrics of her self-written songs. She seemed destined for stardom.

She released her debut album What to do With Daylight in 2003, and this first video (yep, there are three today!) is our favourite song from the album. It's "early" Brooke Fraser, shot in 2004 at TV2's National Anthem show in Auckland - enjoy Lifeline

Fraser faced a huge challenge in her sophomore album, but it too was hugely successful. We first heard her sing the title track at Parachute Music's Noise worship conference in early 2006, where she told Albertine's story - the emotion in her voice made it clear that this was one very special child - and the words in the chorus challenge our faith daily - "faith without deeds is dead" - here's Albertine

Since 2006, Brooke Fraser has been part of the worship team at the Hillsongs Church in Sydney where she leads worship alongside the likes of Darlene Zchech and Reuben Morgan. This final clip shows her using her God-given gifts and talents to lead worship at the Hillsongs Conference in Sydney in 2007

So that's it! We wanted to close the month with something special, and Brooke Fraser is indeed that. We've met her personally, and she is the most pleasant, unassuming and unaffected young woman you could ever want to meet. She's "made it" in the secular market, and she's now serving Christ in the church. And she's yet another Kiwi muso whom we should be immensely proud of!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's to correct?

We see on the Herald website that Delwyn Keefe, the partner of cop-killer Jan Molenaar wants to "set the record straight" about Molenaar's seige earlier in the month.

What's to correct? It seems to us that everything was crystal-clear. Molenaar had dope at his home. The police came to visit him as a result of his dope, which he was probably selling (hint: Ms Keefe is appearing in court for selling cannabis). Molenaar nutted off when he came home and found the police at his home, killing one and wounding two, as well as wounding a neighbour. After holding half of Napier to seige for a couple of days, Molenaar shot himself.

Is that a fair summary? We reckon it is. And hopefully, that will save Delwyn Keefe having to say any more on the matter for a while. Sure, she is grieving the loss of her partner, but surely she should understand that the Napier community is still grieving too, and that the less she says about anything right now, the better.

Fran on "Whack-it-on-the-bill-Phil"

Fran O'Sullivan devotes her Saturday opinion piece in the Herald to the man who would be Prime Minister, Phil Goff. And an inteseting piece it is too, going to places which Phil would far prefer Fran not to go to! On that basis alone, it's well worth a read in its entirety, but here's a wee hint:

The Prime Minister's latest jibe, "Whack it on the bill, Phil" - as a moniker for Labour Leader Phil Goff - fell way short of the mark.

Goff is not an economic illiterate. Far from it. But the Labour leader would have won more brownie points with his post-Budget attacks if he had dished up a credible plan of his own, spelling out just what hard choices his party would have make to get New Zealand out of the mire. He didn't.

The problem for Goff is he is already deeply conflicted by the choices he exercised as a former minister in the fourth Labour Government.

So while he was in fine fettle as he slammed into the National Government for ignoring the growing numbers of jobless in its debut Budget as it "grovelled" to the credit rating agencies, he has a large credibility gap to overcome if he is to be taken seriously. And not to be just viewed as indulging himself in political hyperbole.

As the record shows, the former Rogernome doesn't have too much to brag about himself when it comes to preserving jobs during times of economic stress.

Oh really Phil? Do you REALLY think that thinking people in the electorate (there are a few of us left!!) had forgotten that you were right at the heart of Rogernomics? Did you REALLY think that people would forget that you were Minister of Employment at the start of a period (1984 to 1992) when unemployment DOUBLED?

So we are most grateful to Fran O'Sullivan for this educational piece; it could be called a public service announcement! However much Phil Goff would like to rewrite history, he is forever a Rogernome.

Now that's not to say that we disagreed with the thrust of Rogernomics. After years of Muldoonist intervention, something major had to be done to save New Zealand's economy. We have in the past commended Labour for doing what had to be done in those turbulent times. But for Goff to try and suggest now that he was a reluctant convert, or that it was all a big misunderstanding is just plain - ahhhh - dishonest. And that's an apt choice of word, for dishonesty is just what "Whack-it-on-the-bill Phil" accused National of as he led Labour's contribution to the Budget Debate.

Labour still has some very unpalatable baggage to deal with, both from 1984-1990 and from its latest term in office. And O'Sullivan suggests in her conclusion that Labour is far from ready to govern again any time soon:

Problem is New Zealand Labour is still firmly slotted in the cul de sac in which it parked the economy. It is highly reactive.

Not forward-thinking. Certainly not ready to govern again yet.

Global Warming strikes again

That's right - we're still officially in autumn, but already skifields are opening, and the MetService is predicting another bitterly cold weekend. Heavy snow is forecast, down to sea level as far north as Christchurch, and down to 200m in the central North Island - check this out:

WINTRY SPELL ON SUNDAY WITH SNOW DOWN TO SEA LEVEL FROM SOUTHLAND TO THE KAIKOURA COAST. SNOW DOWN TO UNUSUALLY LOW LEVELS OVER THE NORTH ISLAND WITH HEAVY FALLS EXPECTED IN THE SOUTH AND EAST MetService expects another wintry spell this weekend. A strong, very cold southerly is forecast to reach southern New Zealand late Saturday and quickly spread north over the whole of New Zealand on Sunday. Snow showers are forecast to lower to sea level from Southland to the Kaikoura Coast and fall to unusually low levels on the hills in southern, eastern and central parts of the North Island. Note that, although snow amounts will probably be marginal for a warning in many southern areas, MetService is issuing one because of the very low levels involved. Snow is likely to many roads in these areas. With the strong southerly winds, windchill will be severe for animals and trampers in open areas. People are advised to keep up to date with weather forecasts. Motorists will need to check road conditions before departing, particularly on Sunday, and plan for possible road closures. Farmers should shelter vulnerable animals.

Yes indeed - Global Warming is indeed here to stay! Come on you Greens - save the planet!

Anarchist or Marxist?

That's the choice facing the Greens as they gather for their annual conference today. As Jeanette Fitzsimons stands aside from the co-leadership, Green protocol demands that she be replaced by a woman. And Greens members have to choose today between Metiria Turei and Sue Bradford.

Writing in the Dom-Post, Martin Kay reckons the younger Turei has the inside running. Interestingly though, both Turei and Bradford are much more aligned to the "social justice" arm of the Greens than to the "save the planet" lobby. We all know Bradford's Marxist background, but what about her opponent.

Metiria Turei has a long history of involvement in activism, and we don't have a problem with that. However when one looks a bit deeper, there are more questions posed than answered. She has been a former candidate for both the McGillicuddy Serious Party and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. The former was the heart of the anarchist movement in New Zealand. As recently as July last year, Turei appeared on a Radio NZ programme on the anarchist movement in New Zealand where RNZ's websire stated "Metiria Turei, one of NZ's two anarchist members of parliament who describes her self-chosen role as an anarchist to "widen the floor of the cage"". Through her links with the Save Happy Valley Coalition, Turei is also linked to several of the Urewera 17, who are yet to go to trial on charges arising from the police raids of 2007. In a recent issue of Investigate Magazine, Trevor Loudon noted that Turei has asked a number of parliamentary questions regarding the police surveillance of SHVC, and asked this very reasonable question - "Should Metiria Turei have used her parliamentary position to help her anarchist friends?"

There is no doubt that Metiria Turei is a capable and articulate politician, and we agree with Martin Kay's suggestion that she is the frontrunner to replace Jeanette Fitzsimons. We do however note that Turei is not above a racist dog-whistle or two. As readers will note from the link that follows. She recently argued for a separate justice system for Maori, a notion which we described at the time as "outrageous and deeply offensive", and we blogged about her opposition to Wanganui's Gang Insignia legislation on the basis that it was anti-Maori - the link to that piece is at the foot of the above post.

So that's the choice that Greens members face today - Turei the Anarchist versus Bradford the Marxist. The sad reality for the Greens is that they don't have a "kindly auntie" type to replace Fitzsimons, and whoever they elect today, there is one certainty. The Greens are NOT an environmental party any longer - under the co-leadership of Red Russel Norman and either Turei or Bradford, they will be moving as whole lot further to the extreme left.

New Zealand Music Month - 30 May 2009

The month of May is fast drawing to a close, and with the end of May will come the end of our New Zealand Music Month challenge. Thanks to Ele from Homepaddock for laying down the challenge, and a big ups to her, Adam Smith at The Inquiring Mind and Rob Hosking at Rob's Blockhead Blog for entering into the spirit of things. It's been a blast, and I still have almost enough clips saved for another month's worth!

And today, in our penultimate contribution, we're staying local, and showcasing two Wanganui acts who have achieved success in the music industry, albeit 40 years apart.

First up it's Johnny Devlin - rather optimistically referred to as New Zealand's Elvis Presley, but something of a sensation in his day - here's a piece of video of Devlin performing in Melbourne in 1964 - we don't know who found this video, but we reckon it should be in the National Film Archives!

Now move forward to the 21st century. Wanganui bands have done very well in the Smokefree RockQuest, and this band has been the most successful of all of them. The Have formed at Wanganui High School, and Brodie, Peter and Mike are now based in Berlin, where they recently changed their name to The Sun and the Wolf. And we found this announcement, just prior to The Have heading offshore last year:

The Have began their career at High School and have achieved a lot in the short time they have been together. They have had 2 songs licensed for worldwide releases of EA Games (Rugby 2005 and Burnout 2007), plus have had songs licensed for movies (The Devil Dared Me To), TV advts (X Box, Canterbury for Rugby World Cup, Super 12's in Australia). Plus they have been accepted into SXSW 3 times! From SXSW they gained critical acclaim (Music Week Top 10 SXSW picks) and a US producer - Barrett Jones (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Melvins) who produced their critically acclaimed debut album 'Back to the Burning Wreck'

Here's The Have with The Fuzz - it's plug-your-ears rock!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Clifton's Budget

We always enjoy Jane Clifton's columns, especially he weekly effort in the Listener, which always manages to poke the borax at some poor politician (or several). And she's written a piece for the Dom-Post this morning which is laced with pithy epithets - it begins:

If Ruth Richardson's first Budget was the Mother of All Budgets, perhaps Bill English's fiscal debut was the Nagging Mother-In-Law of All Budgets.

Where Ruthenomics was about taking stuff off people and telling them it was good for them, the English version was more an effort to cajole, hint, chivvy and manoeuvre people to change - in as passive- aggressive a way as possible.

Tactfully, Mr English undertook his oblique nagging in as boring a tie as could be found anywhere - a dingy navy stripe.

He got through the speech without mentioning the operative word "cuts", talking instead of caps, reallocations, deferrals and "reviews" which had "freed up money" for Other Things.

In his customary ungarnished Southern Man honk, Mr English fortified his naggage with gruesome accounts of the 10 years of Budget deficits to come, and the dire consequences if the other countries we owe money to grow tired of financing our lifestyles.

However, he was unable to stifle a cheeky snort when he announced the $50 million for Prime Minister John Key's pet national cycleway project. But apparently that was okay, because Mr Key lampooned the project himself, when he seconded the Budget.

"The minister of finance tried to give me $100 million for it, but I said, 'Nah, [I won't] be greedy!' "

Having dealt with Bill English's southernness, Clifton turns the spotlight on John Key and Phil Goff - and we looooooove Phil's new nickname:

Lolling sideways across his bench as if telling jokes in the pub, Mr Key gave a highly folksy interpretation of the Budget: "We rock up with more money so young mums can stay in hospital longer!" was his explanation of the new maternity services policy.

He dubbed Labour leader Phil Goff "Whack-it-on-the-bill Phil", a nickname that was echoed frequently by rapturous National backbenchers.

Perhaps it was having to witness National MPs ecstatic about the retention of Labour policies they once opposed - student loan concessions, Working for Families - but Mr Goff was a furnace of rage.

Occasionally he had to pause to mop his brow, his complexion flushing from its usual ecru to a dangerous shade of pink. For there was a lot to get one's head around. This "dishonest" Budget was both "a copout!", and "a slash-and-burn exercise!" at the same time.

She then makes a passing reference to Sir Roger Douglas before giving Keeping Stock's old mate David "Cunners" Cunliffe the Clifton treatment, much to our amusement:

Mr Cunliffe, hopelessly overstimulated, made bellicose interjections - most of them miles off the immediate topic - all the way through the National speeches, rather like a drunk heckling a council meeting.

"The biggest lie in history!" he bellowed, then added, mystifyingly, "Leave it to our kids! Taking if off our kids!" before reverting to the handily all-purpose, "Shame!"

We love it! We also loved her description of Cunners as "the Ghost of Budgets Future (he hopes)". But it was "Whack-it-on-the-bill-Phil who gets Clifton's final attention for possibly the most ridiculous statement yet in the life of the 49th Parliament:

Still, Mr Goff entertained National MPs when he asserted: "This Government inherited an economy that was in good shape."

Indeed. We wonder when the Tui marketing executives will climb in on that one!

The Friday Forum - 29/5/2009

Yay; it's Friday again, and what's more, it's the last Friday before winter, not that you'd know that winter has not already officially arrived!! But it's a long weekend to boot, although we have a very important deadline looming work-wise, so we'll be working for most of it.

But anyway, it's time for the Friday Forum. There's a few things you might like to touch on this week - the budget, the S14 final, Richie McCaw's injury and the All Black squad to be named on Sunday - or anything else that takes your fancy. Because this is YOUR place, so come on in, make yourself at home and go for it!

The floor, as always, is yours ...

Boy-racers or thugs?

In the week when Judith "Crusher" Collins has introduced her anti-boy-racer legislation, you'd think that these young punks would be keeping a low profile. Not so!

TVNZ has some video of the aftermath of an attack on a security officer at Christchurch Airport this week. The lone officer, in a car, was patrolling the perimeter of the airport, and came across a gathering of around 100 boy-racers stutting their stuff on a quiet road. On being sighted, she was quickly boxed in, and her car was attacked by these thugs, in an incident that was startingly similar to the attack on a Christchurch copper earlier in the year.

This concerns us greatly, as it goes way beyond the so-called boy-racer problem. This is mindless violence, intimidation and mob rule. The legislation being sponsored by Judith Collins and Steven Joyce will not directly address this kind of of thuggery per se. But it may help to pre-empt such occurrences, by targeting the source of the problem - the anti-social and anti-establishment behaviour of this small but highly visible and audible sector of the community. It should only take a couple of crushings to get their attention!

And on that subject, we note that Paul Henry has offered to devote a section of the Breakfast programme to "Crusher" Collins' solution, whereby crushings would be screened live in all their graunching glory. We think that's a great idea, and would go a step further.

We'd like to see a full-containment race-car seat installed opposite the crusher, into which the offending boy-racer would be tightly harnessed to witness the destruction of their prized vehicle. We'd also arrange for finance company representatives to be present where a vehicle has been on HP - they could immediately present the boy-racer with an invoice, less of course, the assessed value of the cube of scrap metal! We reckon it would be great viewing!

New Zealand Music Month - 29/5/2009

We're fast running out of days - in fact we only have two days to go, as Sunday's Christian Music Showcase is already locked and loaded!

But enough digressing! We'll get straight down to business. Fat Freddy's Drop is the pride of Wellington, and we just love their fusion of numerous genres to provide a unique and homegrown sound. describes FFD thus:

Fat Freddy’s Drop is first and foremost a live band, dropping the Freddy’s voodoo to all ages and nationalities, and winning Best Live Act at the b-Net NZ Music Awards in 2004.

On stage, Freddy’s fuse skanking urban Pacific roots, soul, dub, jazz and electronica into hypnotic and thunderous grooves. No two Freddy’s gigs are the same as the midnight marauders improvise and jam each song into mystic supernovas of future funk, fakes and freaky sidesteps.

So, without further ado - here's Fat Freddy's Drop with possibly the only New Zealand music video ever to have been shot in a Grey Lynn fish 'n' chip shop, complete with a couple of cameo celebrity appearances rather like bro'Town - yep, it could only be Wandering Eye

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Positive feedback

At least Standard and Poors seem to have found Bill English's rather underwhelming budget to its satisfaction. The Herald reports thus:

S&P said today that the budget delivered a "sound" outlook.

"The change in the outlook on the foreign currency rating reflects our view that the measures announced in today's budget will support stabilisation in the government's fiscal position over the medium term," S&P credit analyst Kyran Curry said.

And even better news. Standard and Poors had three options today; to downgrade New Zealand's credit rating, to maintain the "negative watch" it was keeping on the economy, or to return New Zealand's rating to stable. That they have chosen the latter will be a fillip to the Government as it defends itself against the inevitable "broken promises" allegations. Yes, that's right; already Clayton Cosgrove has quoted extensively from Brian Rudman's Herald article which we blogged about yesterday.

And as an aside - Cosgrove should be aware of the placement of the robotic cameras in the chamber, and avoid having the top of his head showing - otherwise it's a bit hypocritical of him to be making snide remarks about Steven Joyce's "centre-part" is it not?

What they're saying ...

Tracy Watkins on Stuff:

Pity Bill English.

The super fund effectively frozen. Tax cuts pushed out till after the next election or beyond. Hardly a triumphant first Budget. But neither is it a black Budget - which we might have expected in the current gloom. This was always going to be the "rock and a hard place" budget. And politically, English has got it about right.

Colin Espiner on Stuff:

Budget 2009 may not be a Black Budget, but it's certainly a grey one. Or maybe beige, for it is a rather colourless affair.

Bill English's first effort as Finance Minister is billed as "The Road to Recovery'' - but it's a long, slow, and rocky road indeed.

From the Herald:

Political correspondent John Armstrong:

Medicine time? Well, not quite yet. But it is coming soon enough.

Bill English has dished up a budget which is a bitter pill wrapped in sugar-coating.

He has managed to scrape together enough cash to deliver more in the way of short-term sweeteners than had been expected, boosting spending on such things as hospitals, early childhood education, research and development and even a Prime Minister's Science Prize.

Enjoy it while you can. Because there may be some jam after all today but its bread and water tomorrow and thereafter. English has judged that after nine years of a Labour spend-up it was asking too much for the populace to go cold turkey but the message is clear: it is belt-tightening time.

Economics editor Brian Fallow:

It is a Budget which makes the medium term outlook look better at the expense of both the short term and the long term.

If it does what it takes to avert a credit rating downgrade it is hard to quarrel with that.

But in terms of the immediate problem of a deep recession and mounting unemployment it is about as stimulatory as a glass of tepid water.

Bernard Hickey on Show Me the Money:

Budget 2009 is all about moderation. Bill English and John Key wanted to moderate the effects of the worst recession since the 1930s. They wanted to respond with moderation to those calling for deeper cuts. They have been moderate with the fiscal knife.

By choosing to abandon the tax cuts and the NZ Super fund contributions they have chosen the path of least resistance. They have chosen the pain of taking away things that were promised but not yet delivered, rather than taking away things already in our hands. It's the politically sensible thing to do in an MMP political system.

It is also essentially a pragmatic decision and reflects the pragmatism of both Key and English.

By deciding to spend an extra NZ$5.8 billion on education, health, justice, roads and broadband over the next three years the government has decided it is better off borrowing the money and spending it to boost the economy rather than simply having a smaller deficit and much lower debt in the distant future.

But is it the right thing to do?

The implications of Budget 2009 are very unattractive for the longer term, particularly if the global economy remains in recession or worse for the next couple of years, as I think it will.

More follows later, once we have done some REAL work!

Blogging Budget 2009

We've just moved the laptop through to the lounge, and will endeavour to blog the Budget as it happens. We would envisage that the Budget Debate which follows immediately after Bill English's Budget Statement will be robust, especially set against the background of the Mt Albert by-election.

Please feel free to comment as and when we post updates.

2.02pm - Bill English looks very dapper in his pin-striped suit and dark tie - he's just dishing out copies to party leaders

2.05pm - the Budget speech begins - National will address issues "honestly and responsibly" and stability is essential. The government is particularly concerened that the Budget creates new jobs - good start!

2.08pm - NZ Superannuation and benefits preserved - government spending to be "redirected" and public debt restricted to "manageable levels"

2.10pm - world events have highlighted weaknesses in the NZ economy, and the recession has been in place for six quarters - household debt has increased by 51% since 2004 - NZ's nett debt is $160b

2.14pm - focus needs to be less borrowing and increasing productivity, also ensuring that Crown finances are properly managed

Here's the Herald's first piece of analysis

2.20pm - Pace of infrastructure investment to be sped up - especially roading and power generation. Public service productivity to be a particular target

2.22pm - "Future defecits far from temporary" - spending increases got out of line with revenue under the previous government. Debt would have reached 48% of GDP by 2013 without intervention

2.25pm - "Considered and quality spending decisions" - what a contrast to life under Cullen!!

2.26pm - $500m annually over the next five years saved through reviews of public expenditure

Now on to some specifics:

Health - $3billion in additional spending over five years

Education - Schools funding to continue to increase, and an additional $70m to go to ECE - good news from where we sit!!

The Greens get a round of applause for co-operating in the Home Insulation scheme!

Science and Technology - $321m in funding for new initiatives

Law and order - 600 new police by 2011, half to be in Counties-Manukau - funding for the improved management of Home D cases!

Difficult decisions:

Restraint in ongoing spending allowances - $1.1b next year, then increasing by 2% pa - spending restraint will aid debt management.

Entitlement to NZ Super remains at 66% from age 65 - contributions to the Cullen Fund are suspended - the rationale is that contributions were intended to come from surpluses, which have evapourated. Contributions will resume projected 2020/21, when the deficits have cleared.

Tax cuts are deferred indefinitely - until economic conditions improve. Current tax cuts will be maintained.

English reckons the economy will trough this year, then begin to grow again, but budget deficits will continue for 9 years. The debt/GDP ratio will peak in 2016.

"Extensive appetities for debt and public spending have ended" - amen to that!!

2.49 - the Budget will provide "a platform for a more ambitious New Zealand"

Phil Goff speaks ... and looks to be in grave danger of blowing a fuse! The Budget Debate looks set to be a rousing affair.


Stuff is reporting that the family of slain police officer Derek Wootton is disgusted with the sentence passed down to his killer - check this out:

The sentence of eight years and nine months' prison handed to the killer of police officer Derek Wootton was met with disbelief by his family today.

"I'm disgusted with the sentence. I guess it's not the right thing to say, but my brother's life is obviously very, very cheap," his younger brother, and fellow officer, Dave Wootton said outside the courtroom.

Derek Wootton was laying road spikes in Titahi Bay last July when Mongrel Mob member Andrew Popo struck him in a stolen car. He was fleeing police at the time.

Popo, 33, pleaded guilty last month to the manslaughter of the 53-year-old officer.

His sentence in Wellington's High Court today carried a non-parole period of five years and he was banned from driving for 10 years.

"I'm sorry, I just have no faith in the system," Dave Wootton said afterwards.

We share their disbelief. Popo is a career criminal, and a violent thug at that. He was only three months out of prison when he killed Sgt Wootton. He had previously been charged with a gang-related manslaughter, but got off when a key witness refused to testify. And Popo is a member of the Mongrel Mob.

The sentence imposed today is, to use legal jargon, manifestly inadequate. But here's the bit that really got our goat (our emphasis added):

Justice MacKenzie said the incident was one of the worst examples of vehicle-related manslaughter he had seen and it was a "significant aggravating factor" that Mr Wootton had been an officer acting in the course of his duties at the time.

He said a starting point of 12 years was appropriate, plus nine months assaulting the car driver, but gave Popo a four-year discount for his early guilty plea.

A third of the sentence as a discount for an early guilty plea? Pardon the language, but that is complete and utter bullshit! Little wonder, as Garth George opined this morning, that this country is on a fast track to anarchy. The law, in this instance, is indeed an ass in our humble opinion.

More dirty tricks

Kiwiblog quotes from a story in the Herald this morning alleging that the Labour Party is indulging in some good, old-fashioned obfuscation and trickery with Mt Albert's immigrant community.

That rang some alarm bells with us, so we searched back to November last year, and guess what we found. Yep, on 5 November 2008, just three days before the General Election, we blogged about a report in the Herald that the Labour Party was indulging in some good, old-fashioned obfuscation and trickery with Auckland's immigrant community.

It's clear to us that the Labour Party has no shame. They will do whatever it takes to win Mt Albert for Phil Goff's parachute candidate. The once-proud Labour Party is prepared to stoop to such tactics, very dodgy tactics in our considered opinion, in order to give Phil Goff an extended stay as the Leader of the Opposition. The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same.

There's just one problem for Labour. The electorate rejected them in November by a pretty significant margin, especially in Auckland where safe Labour seats such as Maungakiekie and Waitakere turned blue. This sordid business smacks of desperation from the Labour Party - perhaps its own polling in Mt Albert belies the public pontifications that the by-election is as good as won.

Oh dear ...

... how sad, never mind!

As Arsenal fans of almost 40 years duration, all we can say is - tell someone who cares!

"We reap what we sow"

That's the closing line in Garth George's weekly opinion piece in the Herald. So what's he talking about, and how does he reach that biblical conclusion? Here's how he begins:

Reading the Herald this past week or so, I'm beginning to wonder whether we are descending into a state of lawlessness in this country which, if not arrested, might lead to outright anarchy.

I'm not talking about lawlessness as perpetrated by the gangsters, druggies, murderers, rapists, bashers, burglars, thieves and others who have chosen to live on the wrong side of the law, but of the breaches of acceptable behaviour by people from whom one would once not have expected it.

The prime example of the sort of behaviour which should be of concern to us all is that of those arrogant twits who last Sunday invaded the Auckland Harbour Bridge, disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of other people who were going about their lawful occasions.

These selfish, thoughtless louts defied transport authorities and a police cordon just so they could traverse the bridge on foot or by bicycle on its 50th anniversary.

OK Garth; we are with you so far. The arrogance of those protesters on Sunday was indeed breathtaking in our considered opinion. But what annoyed us the most was the number of children present, being encouraged by their parents to flout the law.

And whilst we're not convinced by George's suggestion that police armed with Tasers might have dispersed Sunday's gathering, we agree with his support for Tasers in general, and had a chuckle at this recollection from days gone by:

I'm all for arming frontline police with Tasers; in fact it should have been done years ago. They are a perfect compromise between unarmed police and police armed with lethal sidearms, and should have a salutary effect on those - seemingly an increasing number - who are only too quick to tangle with the men in blue.

I well remember the first time I saw an armed policemen - in St Paul, Minnesota, many years ago. Having never seen a real pistol, this boy from the boondocks politely asked the policeman if he could look at his.

To which the cop politely, if somewhat warily, replied that he was strictly bound by rules surrounding his pistol and one of those rules was that he never took it from his holster unless he was going to use it. From that day for several months every time I so much as jaywalked I felt an itch in my back.

One would hope that the carrying and use of Tasers by our police will be well and truly defined by what one might call rules of engagement, yet it is sad that things have come to such a pass that even this level of armament has become necessary.

He then moves on the the Rotorua Westpac story, noting with a degree of concern the number of people who have said that they would do precisely the same as the couple now being sought by Interpol before closing with the salutory warning to which we referred earlier:

I wonder whether those people who say they would have done the same would also have participated in the widespread rorts on the part of those finance companies which have stolen hundreds of millions from Kiwi battlers and left them next to destitute.

In this age of "me first" and "up yours, I'm all right Jack" morality, ethics and respect for the law are being inexorably further eroded.

But those who take the law lightly had better beware, for we reap what we sow.

We find it very hard to disagree with that conclusion.

What do they want?

So it's not JUST Brian Rudman then. Ahead of today's budget, Tracy Watkins and Vernon Small are kicking the government over tax cuts, or the lack thereof. Under the heading "Budget to break election promise", they write:

Bill English's first Budget is poised to break a flagship election promise on tax cuts and rake back hundreds of millions earmarked for Labour's programmes.

However, they undermine their own rhetoric in the next paragraph:

Delivered against a backdrop of the worst economic conditions in 80 years, the Budget is expected to confirm that tax cuts promised for 2010 and 2011 will be axed as the Government struggles to bring a big debt blow-out under control.

Just what do these people want or expect? Sure, National is going to disappoint many people by canning its tax cuts, but where else can they go? Should they jusy push on blindly with items such as tax cuts even when the budget will be "delivered against a backdrop of the worst economic conditions in 80 years"? We don't think so. We've been a vocal critic of Michael Cullen's spending priorities - it seems the only people he ever said "no" to were the taxpayers of New Zealand, especially the "rich pricks" he so despised. We would be equally critical of Bill English were he to dole out money willy-nilly to every Minister who came to him cap-in-hand.

We've heard that this is a "budget for the times". The times, as Watkins and Small have helpfully pointed out, pretty dire. We await Bill English's first budget with interest, and will be blogging from the comfort of our lounge this afternoon so that our loyal readers can be kept informed!

New Zealand Music Month - 28/5/2009

The biography bits we've been using this month have come from, although for the most part, we've taken facts and figures and fleshed them out in our own style. This next bit though is a direct quote - partly because our creative juices are low tonight, and partly because it's a story told so well there. So here goes:

The Chills story is as much the story of Martin Phillipps. The group was dogged by an ever changing line up, with Phillipps being the only permanent member. At times it seemed that the end of The Chills had finally arrived but Phillipps' strong motivation and ambition for success wouldn't allow this. The Chills achieved the success they deserved and were one of the top bands to emerge from New Zealand.

It's a long, long story, but given the role of The Chills and Martin Phillipps in New Zealand music, and especially the Dunedin scene, it's worth a read - you can find it here. In the meantime, enjoy this absolute classic from The Chills - Pink Frost:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rudman's latest folly

Well, our thoughts that Brian Rudman might have defected to the Blue Team didn't last long. Rudman is back today to doing what he does best (or worst; you be the judge) - running Labour Party attack lines - like this one:

It seems we're drifting back to those bad old days. Earlier this month, Prime Minister John Key signalled to an audience of his friends at a Business New Zealand meeting the promised tax cuts would be delayed to some unspecified time in the future. He said New Zealand could not afford "a runaway balance sheet".

Yet back on September 30 last year, Mr English was mocking then Finance Minister Michael Cullen for being over-cautious on the issue. He said: "Dr Cullen cannot be trusted to deliver on any future tax promises."

He compared that with National which "will have an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts. It will be a responsible programme and a transparent programme".

He said he would treat Labour's tax cuts, which came into force the next day, "as the first tranche on our tax-cut programme. That will be followed by another tranche of tax reductions on April 1, 2009, and further tranches in 2010 and 2011". He declared: "National has structured its credible economic package to take account of the changing international climate. Our tax cut programme will not require any additional borrowing."

A few days later, Mr Key launched "a tax package for our times" that is "appropriate for the current conditions". He said it would require "no additional borrowing, or cuts to frontline services to fund it. There is, in fact, a small saving to be made, of $282 million".

Somehow, cutting taxes dramatically was going to increase government income. On December 16, Mr English was up in the House confirming "National will not be going back on any of those promises, as we fully costed and funded them".

The Government is now making out some economic thunderbolt has suddenly hit New Zealand and thrown their pre-election calculations out the window.

But even economic ignoramuses like myself knew a global crisis was nigh. The experts had been saying so for long enough.

Rudman conveniently overlooks one rather important fact. The $3.1 billion surplus predicted by Mickey Cullen just twelve months ago is now a projected deficit of almost $8 billion - a huge, unparallelled turnaround. We now know that Cullen was less than transparent with Prefu, especially with regard to ACC, and we strongly suspect that he knew that the New Zealand economy was in far worse shape that he ever let on.

But Rudman has done the National Party speechwriters a favour. They now know the line that Labour will take in the Budget Debate which follows Bill English's speech tomorrow afternoon. There will be no alternatives suggested, because Labour has none - that has been abundantly clear for some time now. And of course, it's hard for Labour's economic wizard David Cunliffe to gain traction; he still has the stench of Baygate hanging over him, not to mention the perception of guilt by association over the Bill Liu citizenship rort.

Personally, we'd love to get another tax cut next April, but we accept that the government has limited options. We will however get stroppy if Bill English does anything more than postpone them though!

Sporting cliches ...

... are all too prevalent, especially on RadioSport, where we spend a bit of listening time. We do however exempt D'Arcy Waldegrave and Miles Davis from that - at least they try to be different, even if we don't always agree with their views.

But RadioSport's roving reporter Matt Brown wins both the cliche and the mixed metaphor award today. Reporting from the French Open (how does one get a job like that?), and after the obligatory reference to his travel sponsor (which we won't repeat), he talked about Serena Williams' first round three-set struggle, saying that she has survived "by the scruff of her teeth"!

Oh really? We suppose we should be commending Mr Brown for inventing a new cliche. Still, it's makes a change from "full credit", "it was a game of two halves", and "sport was the winner on the day"!

Bill's Blue Budget

Whoever said that Bill English is a dour, humourless southerner? Alluding to the Westpac $10m saga, he joked yesterday that all the decimal points are in the right places with Budget 2009, and that no-one would be waking up to find extra money in their bank accounts!

In all seriousness though, a combination of Labour's profligacy, and Crown accounts which deteriorated rapidly between the Prefu and the new Government taking office left National with limited options. After all, Michael Cullen budgeted on having $3.1b to play with, and ended up with a deficit of $8b. Clearly, National can't sort out all the mess in its first budget, but it sounds as though significant savings in government spending have already been achieved, which augurs well.

And as kindred blogger Ele at Homepaddock opines, the budget document looks so much better in blue. Like her, we remember the days of listening to the budget on the radio - it always used to a night-time event. But for the last nine years, we've had to endure Michael Cullen gleefully reading from his Little Red Budget Book, dispensing goodies to all and sundry while taxing the hell out of us. English will be far more austere tomorrow, but if that's what the economic times dictate, so be it.

No longer running

Well, William Stewart might have reached 100 days on the run over the weekend, but his running days are over. Stuff reports that Stewart was captured early this morning at Mayfield, near Ashburton.

Comparisons have been drawn between Stewart and 1960's prison escaper George Wilder, whom we remember well. But comparisons other than the longevity are tenuous at best. Wilder was a cheeky thief and burglar. Stewart is reported as being a heavy P user, and was wanted for a number of serious crimes including a ram-raid on a pharmacy and violence against the police, together with a warrant recalling him to prison.

Stewart will appear in court today. We fervently hope that he doesn't come up before a judge who believes that the granting of bail is a fundamental human right!

New Zealand Music Month - 27/5/2009

We're getting closer and closer to the end of May, and the end of NZMM, and the choices get tougher by the day. So today's one is a personal choice; a band personally known to the Inventory whanau.

Christchurch band Zed first hit the airwaves in 2000 with its debut album Silencer, and had immediate success with two hit singles. Two further albums followed before the band split in 2005. Lead singer Nathan King has launched a successful solo career, whilst other band members have moved on to other bands.

But the memories remain of some great rock music - here's the song that really launched Zed - Renegade Fighter

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smith - One; Jones - Nil

What a slapdown! Labour Party leadership aspirant Shane Jones showed that he has a lot of work to do before he will cause Phil Goff too many sleepless nights when he got well and truly dealt to by Mr Speaker this afternoon. Here's the exchange:

9. Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) to the Minister of Local Government: What is the Government’s position on Māori representation for the new Auckland Council?

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : On 6 April 2009 Cabinet agreed, as noted in Cabinet minute 0912/7, that Māori representation should not be provided for within the new Auckland governance structure.

Hon Shane Jones: When you took forward to Cabinet your recommendation to scrap the royal commission’s recommendations for Māori representation, who else did you ask other than Pita Sharples, who agrees that Māori representation should be scrapped?

Mr SPEAKER: I invite the honourable member to restate his question because the Speaker did not actually do any of those alleged things.

Hon Shane Jones: When did the Cabinet submission that was made by you, Mr Hide, to scrap Māori—apologies. Mr Hide, when the Minister—[Interruption] Order!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat while I am on my feet. I thank the honourable member. Colleagues, I ask for a little decorum, please. I call the Hon Shane Jones, and I ask him to please concentrate.

Ouch! Couple that with having been outed visiting the Queen Street Golden Arch yesterday with his meal-mate Parekura Horomia whilst supposedly on a hikoi (and being reminded of it by numerous National Ministers), and this has the makings of a weekus horribilus for Shane Jones. What a shame!

Crusher Collins delivers

It seems that Judith "Crusher" Collins has done what Clayton Cosgrove couldn't - she has persuaded her colleagues to support the seizure and destruction of boy-racer cars. Stuff reports:

Car owners with overdue traffic fines will be caught up in the crackdown on boy racers, with the Government announcing legislation that would allow their cars to be seized and sold.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce and Police Minister Judith Collins announced the move today and said it would send a strong message to illegal street racers that dangerous, disruptive and "antisocial use of vehicles" will no longer be tolerated.

But it will also allow authorities to seize the car of anyone with an overdue fine and sell it off to meet the costs.

Under the legislation:

* A new penalty for illegal street racing would allow vehicles to be seized and destroyed.

* Vehicles used by people with overdue traffic fines can be seized and sold to pay those fines.

* Local authorities will be able to create bylaws prevent vehicles repeatedly "cruising" city streets.

* Vehicles involved in illegal street racing will be impounded

* Demerit points will be given for noise offences, licence breaches and registration plate offences. Repeat offenders will lose their licences rather than just accrue fines.

What do we think? It's a darned good start. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but surely these proposed law changes send a message to the anti-social element within the boy-racer community (and we freely acknowledge that not all boy-or-girl-racers fit that description) that the powers of the state are extensive, and that the consequences will be punitive. To hear of young drivers racking up tens of thousands of dollars of traffic fines without any consequences is alarming, and hopefully, the threat of a prized vehicle being seized or crushed will get their attention. As will the bill from the finance company!

Well done Crusher Collins!

UPDATE: The Herald is now covering the story, leading with this classic quote from Judith "Crusher" Collins:

Police Minister Judith Collins says boy racers should fear legislation being introduced to Parliament today because "every new offence will bring them closer to the crusher".

Fusing politics with science

As we were driving back to Wanganui on Sunday afternoon, we discovered that the rented truck's radio only picked up FM. So we tuned to Radio Live, and enjoyed some thoroughly informative radio courtesy of Graeme Hill's excellent Weekend Wireless show. And it's the first interview we heard which we wish to zero in on this morning.

Professor Peter Gluckman was last week appointed as John Key's Chief Science Advisor. We didn't take much notice at the time, but his interview with Hill was an excellent introduction to the man, and to the intention of his role. This is an unprecedented appointment, and it is hard to imagine how Labour will be able to put a negative spin on it. Peter Gluckman has tremendous credentials, and is held in high regard both locally and internationally. We haven't given science a lot of thought since dropping the subject after fourth form, but after hearing Prof Gluckman speaking, we reckon that John Key has pulled another rabbit out of a hat.

And this morning's Herald reports that Peter Gluckman already has an item on his "To Do" list when he takes up his role on 1 July 2009 - investigating the feasibility of banning over-the-counter sales of pseudoephidrine based cold medications as a way of cracking down on the scourge of P. We won't reproduce vast tracts of the Herald story, but it is well worth a read. What we will say however is that this is an excellent move by Key. We've seen first-hand the effects of P in our local community, and it's not pretty for those who are left to deal with the aftermath. The Labour government had nine years to take proactive steps, and did little. National has been in power for o nly just over six months, and already the party is making good on its election promise to attack those who profit from this evil drug.

This morning's Herald story suggests that the fusion of politics and science arising from Peter Gluckman's appointment is not just going to be an exercise in window-dressing. We reckon that's good news for every New Zealander - except perhaps those involved in the procurement, manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

How's our credit?

Further to the first of our budget posts yesterday, we read in today's Herald that the government is optimistic that there will be no downgrade from credit agency Standard and Poors post-budget. Audrey Young reports:

Prime Minister John Key suggested yesterday it would take longer than five years to get the Crown accounts back into surplus, but said he thought the Budget would be sound enough to prevent a credit rating downgrade.

However, he thinks New Zealand will be kept on negative watch by the rating agency Standard & Poor's which is in Wellington for Budget week.

S&P put New Zealand on negative watch in January after economic and fiscal forecasts in December showed a dramatic rise in forecast deficits in the order of $6 billion, and rocketing debt.

The global downturn worsened and Finance Minister Bill English said indefinite deficits of $10 billion were forecast without changes to spending.

S&P analyst Kyran Curry said the agency would be looking to see operating surpluses (excluding gains and losses on investments such as the Super Fund) over the next three to five years. Mr Key said yesterday that "in terms of a time scale that is a bit on the light side".

He said beyond that the numbers were very difficult and over the past decade the Treasury had been "unable to to get on top of its forecasting with a great deal of accuracy".

That last comment interests us. There were a couple of occasions in the last term of the Helen Clark government where Treasury cocked the numbers up. John Key is clearly putting Treasury on notice that such accounting and forecasting errors are inexcusable. And that's a good thing.

New Zealand's credit rating may not get taken off "negative watch" in the wake of this week's budget. Realistically, that's the best that we can expect in such uncertain times. A credit rating downgrade would cost EVERY New Zealander dearly, and we fervently hope that Bill English's first budget staves of that prospect.

All will be revealed in around 56 hours!

New Zealand Music Month - 26/5/2009

New Zealand Music Month is fast nearing its end, and our dilemma now is what to leave out, not what to include each day!

Despite fellow blogger-sole Adam Smith's protestations, we've decided that no New Zealand Music Month would be complete without some contribution from Dave Dobbyn. Adam will be relieved though that we have not chosen Loyal as today's offering - we've gone back a lot further than that!

Th' Dudes was the first Kiwi band to feature Dobbyn. The band was based around schoolmates Ian Morris, Peter Urlich and Peter Coleman, and their fellow Sacred Heart old boy Dobbyn was eventually press-ganged into joining. The rest, as they say, is history, and Th' Dudes became enormously successful by Kiwi standards.

And this was one of Th' Dudes' biggest hits - a party anthem most frequently heart these days at big sporting events, with a guitar intro from Dobbyn and a chorus that any punter can sing along to. And the video brings back memories of the "beer barn" culture of the '70's and early 80's - bars from our youth such as the Lion Tavern, The Albert, The Fitz or The Awapuni, which was, if we remember correctly, where we first say Th'Dudes playing live - enjoy Bliss

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kai time

Stuff reports on an amusing aside to the SuperCity Hikoi at lunctime today:

MPs Shane Jones and Parekura Horomia attended the march but stopped off at McDonalds before carrying on their way.

Poor Parekura - we reckon he will get a right earbashing from Sue Kedgley on the evils of fast food when the House resumes tomorrow!

Danny's big payday

The cheque for US$27,300 Danny Lee received for finishing T38th in the Quail Hollow Championship at the beginning of May will forever be special to him. It was the first he actually earned as a professional golfer. Today, he'll be feeling even better about the world.

He started the final round of the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas in a tie for 29th place, but leapfrogged a number of players courtesy of a final-round 66. That left him in a tie for 13th, and earned him a cheque for US$125,666.67. With earnings in excess of US $150k since he joined the play-for-pay ranks, Lee is still among the also-rans, but he has two immediate targets. The first is to break into the top 150 in earnings (the cut-off is currently US$219,000) giving him conditional status on the PGA Tour, and potential entry into a whole lot more events. The second is a bit further away - finish the season inside the top 125 money-earners, and get full membership of the Tour for next year. 125th place at the moment is US$284,935, so another cheque similar to todays will propel Lee closer to his goal.

And Tim Wilkinson had a similarly improved day. He started in 40th place, but shot a final-round 67 to finish in a 12-way tie for 23rd. His earnings of $48,777 propelled him from 133rd on the money list to 119th, and for now, inside the top 125 with earnings for the year to date of just shy of US$300k. Wilkinson is never going to be a superstar, but he's a gutsy competitor who makes the most of what he's got, and we are pleased to see his career heading in the right directio - even though Danny Lee commands most of the media's attention back home.

Hikoi? Schmikoi!

This is a 21st century hikoi - the photo has been purloined from a
story leading the Herald's webpage right now.

Dame Whina Cooper would be spinning in her grave.

The Monday Quote - 25/5/2009

And today, it's Michael Laws, for his assessment of Melissa Lee - here 'tis:

Melissa Lee is a racist, apparently. We know this because the collective intelligence that is the Auckland University Students Association has passed a motion to that effect. And who are we to argue with the moral priggishness of undergraduate students?

Apparently the National Party candidate for the Mt Albert by-election demonstrated her preference for the hooded white sheet despite being Korean by opining that a new motorway might inhibit the activities of South Auckland criminals.

At no stage did she identify the ethnicity of such criminals. Nor did she mention that she was parroting the exact same sentiments as publicly espoused by a senior Avondale police officer some three weeks previously.

But it matters not. The Auckland University Students Association a collection of onanists and lefty liberals (generally the same thing) has spoken. And they would know a racist when they see one. Because they automatically hate anyone or anything blue.

Which is Lee's true crime. She is a successful Asian not quite attuned to the cultural nuances that are New Zealand. She has properly observed that South Auckland folk are more likely to be criminal than, gee, the residents of just about any other suburb or city in New Zealand.

Good news; bad news

The Dom-Post editorial this morning does its take on the old good news/bad news gag while previewing the budget - except that the leader writer isn't kidding! The editorial begins:

First the bad news: the economy is shrinking; debt is rising. The economy is now smaller than it was in 2007 and, if Government spending continues at present rates, New Zealand will owe the equivalent of about $49,000 for every man, woman and child by 2023.

Now the good news: New Zealand is doing about twice as well as most other developed countries.When Finance Minister Bill English delivers his first Budget on Thursday, he will do so at a time of almost unprecedented risk, but also a time of opportunity.

If Mr English and Prime Minister John Key get things wrong, we face a rerun of the 1980s and 90s when the economy, burdened by cripplingly high levels of debt, stagnated, while others surged ahead.

If they get things right, New Zealand will emerge from the global economic crisis in better shape than most of its trading partners and better-placed to take advantage of an economic upturn.

But striking the right balance is not straightforward. The Government has to slow spending growth to reduce debt and the risk of New Zealand being seen as a risky investment, but if it cuts too sharply it risks strangling the remaining life out of the economy. It also has to find money to invest in infrastructure and stimulate the economy.

Conceivably it could strike the right balance, then find its calculations wrecked by a sudden deterioration in international trading conditions.

In short, Mr English and Mr Key need to be flexible, prudent and bold at the right times. But even more importantly, they need to ensure they get the maximum benefit from every dollar spent.

We reckon that's a pretty good synopsis of the task facing National's leadership team. And the last of the quote above sums everything up from where we, as non-experts view it. Labour was all about big government. The state sector ballooned, and Michael Cullen fed its burgeoning appetite, as evidenced here:

Figures quoted in a recent speech by Treasury Secretary John Whitehead show public sector spending ballooned from $37.5 billion in 2002 to $57 billion in 2008.

Obviously that rate of growth is unsustainable. Obviously not all of it was warranted. Everyone has their favourite example of wasteful spending by the last government, whether it be hip-hop study tours or polytechnic courses that students were not required to attend.

But it is one thing to point to daft initiatives that cost a few thousand, or even a few million, dollars. It is another to find, within existing budgets, the billions of dollars the Government needs to make a difference to its growth prospects. It is here that the behind-the-scenes work done since the election by ministers, departments and the shadowy "purchase advisers" hired by National will be critical.

If they have identified low quality spending that can be redirected without causing hardship they can position New Zealand to take advantage of an economic recovery. If they have not, the country will continue to be tossed about in the wake of larger economies.

It's a shame that the Dom-Post has spoiled what was otherwise a very good editorial with the reference to "shadowy "purchase advisers"". We reckon the decision to recruit a few former top civil servants to scrutinise the quality of government spending was an inspired move, and we hope that they have given Key and English some wiggle-room. All will be revealed on Thursday, we reckon.