Sunday, January 31, 2010

Great news

Simon Bridges will be over the moon this morning. The Sunday Star-Times reports that the Government will this week discuss adopting Bridges' private member's bill to increase sentences for animal cruelty:

Tougher penalties against those who harm animals look certain to be fast-tracked after Prime Minister John Key last night said his government would consider the controversial issue at Tuesday's caucus meeting.

A spokesman for Key said: "The prime minister has been appalled by the recent animal cruelty cases."

Key's intervention means the government is likely to adopt National MP Simon Bridges' private member's bill, which proposes increasing the maximum jail term for animal cruelty from three years to five. If the government fails to act, Bridges' bill could be debated in parliament only if it is drawn, lottery-style, from a ballot.

Key's spokesman indicated the government would move quickly. "The government supports ensuring we have appropriate measures to deal with these issues. The Simon Bridges member's bill will be considered for adoption as a government bill at an upcoming caucus."

We had earlier blogged that Bridges would be lobbying his collegaues when caucus met for the first time on Tuesday; now that seems like a fait accompli, and we're delighted. It's a no-brainer for the government, especially with the slew of animal cruelty cases this week, but it's great that John Key has stepped in and effectively ensured the passage of Bridges' measure. It is legislation which we are sure will enjoy wide, if not unanimous support across party lines.

But when the government does adopt this bill, let's hope that Simon Bridges features prominently on its allocated list of speakers in support. After all, he is the one who took the initiative to ensure that those who abuse animals receive an appropriate punishment.

Christian Music Sunday - 31/1/2010

Given that the Parachute Christian Music Festival is in full swing, it's only fitting that we feature a Parachute headliner.

Hillsongs United will play a worship set tonight. Sunday night is always our fave time at Parachute - there's something amazing about worshipping God under the stars amongst a crowd of thousands. And for the mainly youth audience, Hillsongs United hits the spot. They started out as the youth band at the Hillsongs church in Sydney, but are now top performers in their own right. And out front is none other than Brooke Ligertwood (nee Fraser). Whilst she continues her solo career under her maiden name, Brooke has become an integral part of United.

And it's one of her songs we feature today - Hosanna. One of the things that we love about modern Christian music is the fusion of timeless words with contemporary music, and this song is a perfect illustration - it takes the words sung by the angels thousands of years ago and blends them into a song to be sung by young people here and now - enjoy!



We should think so!

The Sunday Star-Times is suggesting that our kindred blogger WhaleOil is not the only person who dislikes name suppression laws. The school which employs the teacher accused of sex acts against children wants him named - read on:

A top primary school which employs a teacher accused of grooming and paying boys for sex acts will apply to the court to have the man's name suppression lifted.

A lawyer for the decile-10 school on Auckland's North Shore, Tim Allan, last night said the school had been hamstrung by the interim suppression order and was upset that it cast unfair suspicion on "great, hardworking male teachers who have done nothing wrong".

The school would like nothing more than to out the accused to the school community and would look into whether it had jurisdiction to try to have it lifted as soon as possible, he said.

"Without wanting to be critical of the judge... it's put the school in a very difficult position."

It does indeed. Every male teacher at every decile-10 school on the North Shore is now under suspicion. The parents of every child attending every decile-10 primary school on the North Shore will be wondering whether a teacher at THEIR school is a kiddie-fiddler.

And guess what - celebrity name suppression rears its ugly head again (our emphasis added):

The middle-aged teacher – who has name suppression but is a relative of a high-profile New Zealander – appeared in the North Shore District Court on Friday to face six charges relating to indecent acts on two boys, aged 16. He entered no plea and was bailed to reappear next month.

Police allege, between 2005 and September last year, the man met the two complainants at a North Shore supermarket and arranged for them to travel with him to carry out indecent acts on him.

We applaud the school for its attempts at transparency. It currently cannot even notify the Teachers' Council as to do so would breach the suppression order. That is ridiculous, in our humble and considered opinion. Parents have a right to know who this alleged scumbag is, as does every other male teacher on the North Shore; they do not deserve the sidesways glances they will be undoubtably be getting until the identity of this ALLEGED paedophile is known.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Greatbatch of Black Caps?

We'll have more to say later as we are about to go to a wedding. But we see that NZ Cricket has announced that Mark "Paddy" Greatbatch has been appointed to coach the Black Caps, with immediate effect.

Greatbatch was better known as a flamboyant one-day player, but the innings from him which we will most remember was the marathon at Perth where he batted for 10 hours and denied the Ausralians a victory. If Paddy Greatbatch can bring a similar level of resolve to our fragile top order, he will prove to be an excellent choice.

Confusing signals

We're not quite sure what Tracy Watkins is trying to say about Phil Goff in her weekly political column in this morning's Dom-Post. This was the clincher passage as far as we were concerned:

So was it a Freudian slip when Phil Goff joshed with reporters that they would have to put up with him for "a couple more years" yet after the obligatory mid-term vote of support from the Labour caucus?

In the old days, that sort of talk would have been pounced on as a de facto concession speech; now it seems churlish to beat Mr Goff over the head for a perfectly human moment, just as we have all been demanding he show a more human side.

It is even the sort of joke his opponent John Key might have made, and in doing so further endeared himself to the public. If the robotic Mr Goff has finally learned to unbend a little, then all well and good.

But if it also portrayed a certain amount of defeatism creeping into Mr Goff's thinking, that's hardly surprising. He's been taking a battering lately – but not from the usual suspects.


Can someone wiser than us please help us to decipher Tracy's confusing signals. When she refers to the "robotic Phil Goff" unbending, is she being sincere, or is she merely damning him with faint praise. We haven't worked that out yet!



Vote for Lisa

Lisa Lewis does a pretty good job publicising herself and her occupation, so it's no surprise that she wants to be even more in the media spotlight. The Waikato Times reports on Lisa's political aspirations:

The race for seats on the Hamilton City Council this year could get pretty raunchy – stripper Lisa Lewis is considering standing in October's local body elections.

Ms Lewis confirmed to the Waikato Times yesterday she was considering standing and wanted to gauge reaction before deciding. "I am 28. I believe we need to look at the percentage of young people that live in the 'Tron. Why don't they vote? Because there is no interest in them to do so. If I decided to stand I would ensure there would be a motivation and reason for them to vote."

Ms Lewis – who writes a blog for the paper's website (waikatotimes.co.nz) – would not answer questions about her current occupation and whether she would continue with it if elected to council. She has continued to strip since finishing as a topless news reader, and is advertising with other sex workers in the adult section of the paper.

"(There is) no need to answer those questions until when and if I decide to run," said Ms Lewis, whose writing has attracted vitriol on the website. Over the next couple of weeks, she would blog on her reasons for wanting to stand and would "welcome the public's thoughts in relation to these matters".

"There are a few changes I wish to see happen. And I am someone that when I'm discontent with the state of affairs, I will do everything in my power to see a change."

Good on her. But we have a suggestion for Lisa. Instead of standing for the Hamilton City Council, how about she shifts herself down to W(h)anganui, and stands for the mayoralty against Mayor Mike. Now that would be a contest and a half!! Two avowed self-publicists, both of whom are adept in their use of social media.

And it's not as though moving towns to seek a mayoral chain is unprecedented. Lisa needs only to look at Tim "I don't care where; as long as I'm mayor" Shadbolt for inspiration on that count.

Lewis versus Laws - kinda has a ring to it, don't you think?

Don't moan!

We read in this morning's Dom-Post that a rare calm, still night in Wellington...

...meant the AC/DC concert was heard from suburbs several kilometres away.

Residents from as far away as Kilbirnie and Karori reported being able to clearly make out the songs played by the band during the two hour-plus Westpac Stadium concert.

We hope that those Kilbirnie and Karori residents aren't complaining. Sheesh, they saved themselves $160, and didn't have to put up with the hoards of black-clad bogans and boganesses who descended on Wellington! In the meantime, those ageing Scottish rockers must be laughing all the way to the bank Jimmy!

Is this sick?

Stuff reports that a university student known as Unigirl is auctioning off her virginity on a Hamilton-based auction website.

A 19-year-old female university student is offering up her virginity "by tender to the highest bidder" on a Hamilton-based auction website.

And that's disgusted reader Rosie Erceg, who complained by email to the Waikato Times that it was "yuck, sick and wrong".


We're with Rosie Erceg here. There's something about this story that leaves us sick to the stomach. Is this country really heading to hell on a hand-cart, or are we just getting old? Whaddya reckon?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Geography lessons

We know that journalists these days struggle with attention to detail, especially for anything south of the Bombay Hills, but we suggest that the "NZ HERALD STAFF" referred to at the bottom of this story need some lessons in basic New Zealand geography - the headline reads Small quake hits Manawatu town of Raetihi. So, being caring folk from REAL New Zealand, we'll help:

  • Raetihi has NEVER been part of the province of Manawatu.
  • Raetihi is part of the Ruapehu District, and was formerly part of the Waimarino District.
  • The earthquake referred to occurred 30km NORTH of Raetihi - that's getting up towards National Park!
  • The closest city to Raetihi is of course the metropolis of Wanganui, reached via the much-improved Parapara highway.

Perhaps we're nit-picking. But really, is it any wonder that the dead-tree media receive so much scorn when they can't even get basic facts right?

Sorry Granny; must to better!

23 years

That's the sentence just handed down to House of Horrors double-murderer Jason Somerville - life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years.

It seems like a pretty fair sentence to us, but we doubt that he will see daylight again, which probably makes the world a safer place. It will be a tough lag for him, and that, in a way is justice. We don't propose to comment further

But we DO want to comment on a fellow blogger with regard to this case. Early in the piece Peter Burns (aka dad4justice) appeared on the TV news; he was helping this clearly dysfunction couple work through some pretty major issues regarding custody etc.

Peter Burns gets a bad rap around some of the blogs he frequents, and to be honest, he brings much of it on himself. We don't know if dad4justice is merely a persona, or whether he's at all like that in real life. But we will say this.

We have immense respect for Peter Burns for standing by this couple, and for trying to help them find some normality in life. We know from his blog that he's active in helping people with Family Court issues. We've done some ministry to people at the bottom of the pile, and we know that it can be soul-destroying at times, but that it can also be incredibly satisfying when God transforms broken lives.

So our thoughts and prayers go out to Peter today; doubtless he'll be feeling conflicted with justice being done on one hand for Rebecca Chamberlain and Tisha Lowry, and on the other hand, punishment being imposed on Somerville. May he reflect on these words:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' Matthew 25:24-40 - The Message


Kia kaha Peter Burns

This Sporting Life - 29/1/2010

It's been a relatively quiet sporting week this week, although we're delighted that Central Districts will host the HRV Cup T20 final in New Plymouth on Sunday. With an invite to the rich IPL Champions' League up for grabs, this should be a cracker of a match at arguably the most picturesque cricket ground in the world. Sheesh, we might even wander up there ...

We have been watching some of the Aussie Open tennis though. It was sad to see Raffa Nadal succumb to injury again, and his rivalry with Roger Federer is again on hold - that's a real shame for the sport. But has there been a better player than Federer? We go back a long way, and we can't remember one.

And what can you say about Serena? Down a set and two breaks against Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-final, she staged an incredible comeback to win going away, and will now meet Justine Henin in the "dream final" for the organisers. It's been a great fortnight of tennis so far.

So what have you been playing or watching? The floor is yours ...


POSTSCRIPT: We note with sadness the death from cancer of former Springbok loosie Ruben Kruger at the far-too-young age of 39. Kruger was a hard man, and played a pivotal role in SA's 1995 RWC triumph. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who survive him.

Send in the Clown


Meet the new Green MP - need we say more? Probably not; everything you need to know about Gareth Hughes is here!

Flip-flop Phil

So Phil Goff now wants to put a ceiling on the salaries of public service CEO's. It all SOUNDS good (a real dog-whistle to his union mates), but there's something that Phil seems to have forgotten.

"What's that?" you ask. Well, dear readers, we reckon that Phil Goff has forgotten that until 14 months and 21 days ago, LABOUR governed New Zealand, and CEO salary rises are not a 14-month recent phenomenon - read this:

Most top public servants received substantial pay rises ahead of the world recession bringing down a veil of austerity, State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said today.

There was also a large rise in the number of civil servants earning more than $100,000 with 4771 on that figure by the end of June, compared with 3782 the previous year. There was an almost 600 per cent increase in the number of senior civil servants earning more than $300,000.

The State Services Commission's annual report for the year ended June records a salary increase of 5 per cent in the overall budget for all government department chief executives for the year.

That quote is extracted from a Herald article dated 15 October 2009 - but wait; there's more (our emphasis added):

Mr Rennie said the pay rises flowed through from a decision in 2005 to increase the overall funding for chief executives by 5 per cent a year for five years.

After the global credit crisis sparked a world wide recession the order had gone out to rein in spending.

Mr Rennie said this year's budget had seen him hand back more than $600,000 he had been previously allocated to lift chief executives' salaries in the current financial year.

There had been no resistance to this from top civil servants and many had asked for no pay rises as they were trying to manage their wage budgets.

Yes, that's right. Labour locked in 5% per annum rises for the CEO's in 2005, which was, of course, an election year. In 2009 (the first full year of the John Key government) the State Services Commissioner put a freeze on those 5% increases.

So we'll say it. Phil Goff; you're a hypocrite. This issue that you're now trying to beat up is one of your own party's making.

How time (in opposition) dims the memory eh?


Hat-tip (for the link): Gooner

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mrs Green goes

Jeanette Fitzsimons has today announced her resignation from Parliament, effective immediately.

With her will go any pretence that the Greens are an environment party first and foremost. The Greens' caucus now is from the hard left. Russel Norman is a former member of the Socialist Workers Party of Australia; Metiria Turei is a former anarchist; and Catherine Delahunty is a Marxist, and is quite frankly not of this planet!

So who will replace Mrs Green? Gareth Hughes, that's who
. You may not have heard of him, but the Green Party website kindly provides his profile from the 2008 election. Hughes will become our youngest MP, and brings to the House such distinctions as "being arrested dressed as Ronald McDonald, climb buildings and unfurling a protest banner in Tiananmen Square, Beijing". He's also been an official delegate for Save Happy Valley, and as activist groups go, they don't get much more hard-line than that, in New Zealand anyway. So it's safe to assume that Gareth Hughes is of a similar ilk to those above him in the Greens' food chain. He's certainly no Jeanette Fitzsimons!

So let's have some honesty from the Greens. Let's put to one side any notion that they are moderates trying to save the planet one tree at a time.
The Green Party is at the extreme left of the political spectrum. Let's hope that enough thinking voters come to realise that before the 2011 election that the Greens suffer the same fate as New Zealand First - oblivion.



The Greens are now officially the Watermelon Party - a thin veneer of green on the outside; blood read all the way through.


More thoughts on the minimum wage

We've been cogitating a bit this morning over this minimum wage business, and Labour/Trevor Mallard's push to raise it to $15/hr over two years. And the result of our cogitating? We reckon it's daft; it simply doesn't make sense.

Yesterday over at Kiwiblog, a comenter by the name of Bed Rater (who could he/she be extracting the Michael from, we wonder?) made this very sage observation:

  1. Bed Rater (45) Says:
    January 27th, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Mike G: You seem to forget that its not just those ‘on the minimum wage’ who would get an increase, if it were raised to $15.00



Yep, Bed Rater nails it. Let's say we have two workers; worker A on the minimum wage of $12.50 and worker B on $15.00 per hour. The government increases the minimum wage to $15.00 per year, giving worker A a 20% pay increase, and pay parity with worker B.

So what's worker B's reaction? Yep. you guessed it. Worker B will be heading straight for the employer's office to ask for his/her 20% pay increase, so that the margin between worker A and worker B (for which there will be good reason) is preserved.

So a 20% increase in the minimum wage is not just going to affect workers on the minimum wage. Workers throughout the country will expect similar levels of compensation. And that, in the current eceonomic climate, is completely and totally unsustainable. We know that it would have a major and adverse affect on our businesses, umless it was matched by a comparable increase in funding, and that's highly unlikely.

It's easy for Labour to politically posture on this issue from the opposition benches; it all sounds good, and the low-paid are Labour's traditional constituency. It's another thing again to implement such an inflationary policy from the treasury benches. Accordingly dear readers, you can rest assured that we will be doing all that we can to ensure that Labour does not get that opportunity any time soon; they quite simply cannot be trusted.

Telecom's woes

We don't use Telecom as our mobile phone provider, and after the second major failure of the XT network yesterday, we're really pleased we don't. Stuff reports:

Telecom is yet to decide whether to offer compensation to thousands of customers affected by another major XT network crash.

Telecom mobile customers south of Taupo were unable to make or receive calls and texts for several hours after yesterday's outage.

It was the second significant fault on the network in just over a month.

The outage has angered customers and sparked calls for compensation and an explanation from Telecom.

Telecom spokesman Mark Watts said the fault happened at 11am yesterday and potentially affected tens of thousands of customers. Service was restored to most areas by about 2pm.

Telecom has ordered an independent review but has yet to decide whether to compensate customers. "Our focus at the moment is on what went wrong and why, and mopping up any last areas [without service]," he said.

Telecom did not know what had caused the outage, but it appeared a network switch at a Christchurch site was involved. "We're deeply sorry to our customers who we have let down. It shouldn't have happened."

The XT network crashed for 12 hours in December, cutting off more than 100,000 customers. Telecom gave customers free calls to Telecom mobiles and landlines for a weekend and did not bill them for a day of mobile usage as compensation.

It therefore begs the question - in txt-speak, should "dog" hereafter be spelt XT?

The Minimum Wage - Part II

Here's a summary of reactions:

Helen Kelly (CTU) - "mean"
Trevor Mallard (Labour) - "miserable"
John Ryall (SFWU) - "poverty wages"
Metiria Turei (Greens) - quotes last week's Herald poll as evidence that the public supported the rise to $15/hr - this poll - the slanted one

If the Government has managed to upset all of the above, we'd say they've got the mix just about right. So here's another:

Phil O'Reilly (Business NZ) - "probably reasonable in the circumstances"

Indeed - "in the circumstances" explains it far better than we could.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Minimum Wage

The minimum wage doesn't majorly affect our businesses, as all of our staff are paid at higher rates - at our choosing. But we reckon that the 25c/hr increase announced today (to $12.75 per hour) is a sensible compromise between those who were calling for its increase to $15 per hour, and those who were calling for no movement whatsoever.

Let's face it; our economy is not in good shape. Employment is fairly static at present, and employers can simply not afford to pay large wage increases. As we blogged last week, a significant rise in the minimum wage would have without doubt been a disincentive for businesses to take on new staff in the kind of numbers needed to make a dent in the unemployment figure. Indeed, it is likely that jobs would be lost, which is the last thing New Zealand needs at the moment.

The CTU has, predictably, described the increase as "mean" and "demeaning". Union leaders here need to pull their collective heads out of the Utopian sand they are buried in; these are tough times, and protecting jobs should be their priority. And what is more "demeaning" - working for the minimum wage (if that is all you can get) or being laid off or out of work?

And in the meantime, the Labour Party is planning to introduce a Bill to legislate for a $15/hr minimum wage. We wonder how many of the "ordinary New Zealanders" that Labour purports to represent would lose their jobs should such folly ever take place.

On one hand ...

On one hand we have the National Party, led by PM John Key, and "aspirational" for New Zealand.

On the other hand, we have the Labour Party, and it's new aspiration - to be "ordinary". WhaleOil's already designed the billboard ...



... and all on the same day that Phil Goff told reporters that "You're stuck with me" for the next two years ...


Hat-tip: WhaleOil @ Gotcha

A good start

Much as we disagree with our Mayor Michael on a number of issues, we're right behind him when it comes to gangs.

Stuff is reporting this morning on the meeting held by the Wanganui District Council yesterday where an important decision was made - read on:

Wanganui District Council will become the first in the country to test new gang legislation through the courts to have an "intimidating" fence torn down.

The move has the support of police and puts a two-metre-high iron fence around the Whanganui Hells Angels' headquarters in jeopardy.

But one councillor believes police have not proven enough criminal activity takes place behind the Hells Angels' walls to warrant them being torn down. The law states the court can order a structure to be removed if it facilitates or conceals crime, or is used as a way for alleged criminals to hide from police.

At a council meeting yesterday, councillors voted to join with police in making an application for the removal of the fence at 48 and 50 Kaikokopu Rd, under the Gangs and Organised Crime Bill. Seven councillors voted in favour and six against.


The only thing which concerns us on this issue is that there are six elected representatives of the people of Wanganui who came out on the Hells Angels' side. Then again, it's election year. But we appalud the mayor for leading this crusade against the Hells Angels in this instance, and gangs in general.

Gangs are insidious and evil. They contribute nothing to a civilised society; indeed, they openly encorage their members to break the law, and to intimidate and control.

Wanganui has a gang problem; we are far from alone in that. Our whare is within 2km of where Jhia Te Tua was shot dead by Mongerl Mob members, and a little over a kilometer from where Paul Kumeroa was beaten to death by Black Power members and associates for nothing more than wearing a red jacket.

But where Wanganui differs is that it has a mayor who is prepared to stand up to the gangs. It also has a council which, by a bare majority, supports the mayor. We did not vote for Michael Laws last time around, or the time before that. This year however, we will support those candidates who are prepared to have a go at ridding Wanganui of its gang problem, and though the thought horrifies us, we will even consider voting for Michael Laws if he stands for a third time.

Gangs in Wanganui have had their day; it's time for the citizenry to support the mayor and council and get rid of these scumbags for good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Four decades


We note that the parliamentary Labour Party has unsurprisingly confirmed Phil Goff and Annette King as leader and deputy respectively. Phil Goff will celebrate his re-election by feeding his caucus at his Clevedon farmlet, some distance from his Mt Roskill electorate. He has resisted the urge to BBQ; sheep on a spit is the fare.

Doubtless this will be trumpeted as a new dawn for Labour etc etc etc. Phil Goff and Annette King were last year celebrated as the "new face" of the Labour Party. The reality is, of course that they're anything but. When the House resumes on 9 February, Phil and Annette will be each commencing their FOURTH DECADE in Parliament. That's right; each was elected in the 1980's, and each has served in each of the following decades. They're joined of course by Trevor Mallard.

They are not alone. Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne are of similar vintage, as are Lockwood Smith and John Carter. We mention that fact so as not to be accused of selective reporting!

So let's forget this tosh about "new beginnings" or a "bright new dawn" for Labour. The Labour Party is led by refugees from Rogernomics - and isn't that just SO 1980's??!!

Caveat Emptor

It's a little-known fact, but we (me, myself and I) were Latin scholars - we even managed a School Cert pass (by the barest of margins) way back in the days of REAL exams!

So when we read this morning about the Mexican standoff at Steve Meier's Matangi farm yesterday, the Latin phrase caveat emptor came immediately to mind.

We've heard that the Transpower pylons were already in situ on Mr Meier's farm when he purchased it. We also read that he has on one hand complained to Transpower about the potential for the very incident which happened yesterday, but on the other hand he has repeatedly refused Transpower access to his land to effect thinning and trimming.

So back to the title phrase - caveat emptor of course means "let the buyer beware". If Mr Meier bought the property knowing that power lines ran through it, he thus took a level of responsibility. The issue is, of course, about compensation. Our bush-lawyer opinion is that Mr Meier should have sorted this out with Transpower BEFORE he completed the purchase of a property where he must have known there may be issues.

It rather reminds us of the Western Springs fiasco. People purchased homes that backed on to a venue used for speedway in the summer. Speedway can be noisy. Yet somehow, the residents managed to convince the Auckland City Council that they were the victims, and severe constraints were placed on the speedway's operations, even though it had been running at the same venue for 70 years!

Next time Mr Meier buys a farm, we venture to suggest that he should do the due diligence.

UPDATE: Police have just confirmed that 11 guns were confiscated from Steve Meier yesterday, and that he was required to surrender his Firearms licence.

Hamilton City area commander, Inspector Rob Lindsay, said 11 guns were taken by police as well as Mr Meier's gun licence.

"Under section 61 of the Arms Act, where officers suspect an offence has or is about to be committed we are able to write out a warrant to recover the firearms which is what occurred last night.

"The firearms were taken under these circumstances because the landowner presented behaviour that gave us some concern. This was a precautionary step only and no arrests were made," said Mr Lindsay.

A safer place

The world is a safer place this morning. Stuff is reporting that Saddam Hussein's henchman and cousin, Chemical Ali has been executed.

Iraq has executed Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the Saddam Hussein henchman widely known as "Chemical Ali", for crimes against humanity, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

"The death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majeed has been carried out," Dabbagh said.

Majeed, a cousin of Saddam's who earned his nickname because of his use of poison gas, was executed by hanging, the government said in a statement.


Generally, we don't favour capital punishment. In Ali Hassan al-Majeed's case though, we make an exception, as we did for Saddam Hussein. These were brutal men, happy to kill thousands of innocents in their pursuit of power. The world is a far better place without them.

Oh Michael!

The Dom-Post has a very amusing story this morning - about our very own Mayor Michael - check this out:

Anonymous internet comments praising Whanganui's "celebrity" mayor Michael Laws have been traced back to his own publishing company.

A person using the pseudonym "Wangas" has praised Mr Laws on a variety of issues, including the "H" debate and television presenter Paul Henry's use of the word "retarded" on air.

At least two of the comments were sent using an email address that can be linked to Mr Laws' publishing company, Darius Press.

Mr Laws is the sole shareholder.

The email address regularly features on emails sent from Mr Laws' mayoral office, including one sent to media last week.

When approached by The Dominion Post, Mr Laws said he did not write the internet comments himself – but they could have been made by people close to him.

"I don't make anonymous comments, it's not in my nature," he said.


But here comes the kicker - read on:

"All I can say is I don't make anonymous comments and I'm not prepared to speculate who it could be."

We're prepared to speculate on Michael's behalf though! We reckon that Antionette Beck might have slipped back into the country. Oh Michael, how could you??!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Animal cruelty

If ever Simon Bridges needed some publicity for his campaign for increased sentences for cruelty to animals, he got it from David Hamuera Snook. The Herald reports (don't read if you're easily upset):

The man who tore the head off a kitten in front of his family has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison.

David Hamuera Snook has also been banned from owning or exercising animals for five years.

The Pukekohe District Court heard how Snook went to his former partner's house drunk, in November, where an argument happened.

Snook then sat at the dining table, took the family kitten in his arms, and while laughing, twisted its head off.

His former partner and her children watched Snook kill the kitten and its headless body run across the floor, according to the police summary of facts.

Congratulations to Judge Sharon McAuslan for imposing a decent sentence, given that the maximum penalty for this offence is three years. Perhaps the Corrections Department could arrange for Snook to spend some time with Gary Laurence McKinlay.

In the meantime, we again wish Simon Bridges well with his campaign to get tough on scumbags such as David Snook.

UPDATE: Here's another name for Simon Bridges' Wall of Shame - Te Ahu Aaron Mankelow - once again, don't follow the link if you're easily sickened. This guy may even be worse that David Snook!




Phil Goff and the Icy Reception

We didn't make it out to Ratana yesterday. Phil Goff and many of his caucus did; however they may have wished they'd stayed at home! The Herald reports that the reception Labour received in its former stronghold was less than enthusiastic - Audrey Young says:

Labour received a battering at Ratana township yesterday as National and the Maori Party continue to bask in popularity after more than a year in office together.

Labour was challenged to reciprocate the loyalty shown to it from Ratana for decades by accepting four Ratana candidates for winnable positions in Parliament - on the list.

To rub his nose in it, Labour leader Phil Goff had to endure a speech praising Prime Minister John Key for being "a brilliant speaker" and "a person who should be admired".


Oh dear! So much for Phil Goff's flying start to the year; it would seem that the wind has already been taken out of his sails, and by Labour's former allies, no less. If one were to be REALLY unkind, one might suggest that Phil Goff and Labour's prospects for 2010 are about as hot as Wellington's summer has been - which is, of course, not very!

The Millie files - #12764

Is anyone else getting sick of the trials and tribulations of Millie Holmes?

The Herald website is reporting that the tormented, P-addled daughter of Paul Holmes is back before the courts again, this time for ALLEGEDLY obstructing police who were trying to arrest her equally unpalatable boyfriend.

But what we found to be even more bizarre was the reported comment by her lawyer, Counsel to the Stars Chris Comesky - check this out:

Elder declined an interview with the Herald on Sunday. But her lawyer Chris Comeskey said the "frequency" of her charges was "annoying".

He questioned whether the level of attention Elder got from police was fair or "some sort of vendetta".

What is Comesky suggesting? Does he think that step-daughters of media personalities should be above the law? Is he suggesting that the Police should just allow Holmes to ALLEGEDLY offend with impunity?

Seriously though, Millie Holmes' situation is sad. She seemed to be a bright and vibrant young woman until she found the P scene. Now she's a convicted criminal, and with a variety of charges currently before the courts, it seems likely that a prison sentence is not far away. It's truly sad to see a young life being wasted in such a manner.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grassroots rugby - yeah right!

What a great story this was at the start of another rugby season. The small hamlet of Mangatainoka, home of the Pahiatua Golf Club and the Dudley Arms Hotel (oh, and also a brewery which employs women; gorgeous women!) hosted the pre-season clash between the Blues and the Hurricanes yesterday. TVNZ featured the story last night as does the Herald on Sunday today.

Rugby doesn't get much more grassroots than the formerMangatainoka Domain! But yesterday, it was transformed into a stadium, and over 8000 turned up in dreadful weather. We hadn't realised that the season had rolled around so quickly, and by the time we enquired, the match was a sellout.

Rugby royalty was there. As well as the All Black-laden teams, Sir BJ Lochore and Sir Tree Meads were in attendance in what was a great day from all reports. The attendance of the latter duo was most fitting, given their patronage of the NZRU's Heartland Championship.

We played a match at the Mangatainoka Domain once many, many years ago. Memories of the match itself are hazy, but one thing will never be forgotten - the trays of freshly-filled flagons carried across from the brewery immediately after the end of play - it was the freshest, tastiest ale. So it's fitting that we close with a tribute to Mangatainoka's most famous export, and it's not the "gorgeous women" either!





Grassroots rugby is dead - yeah right!

Laws on Three Strikes

Michael Laws' column in the SST this morning is well worth a read. We don't always agree with the views of our media-loving Mayor, but today, he's right on the money. In particular, he takes a swipe at some very flawed logic from the Corrections Association - check this out:

And, the desire to manage, rather than punish, the incarcerated was cited last week by the Corrections Association, the union representing prison guards, as the reason they are opposed. In essence, an argument born of cowardice. That parolling bad people makes their job easier by acting as an incentive for inmates to be nice to them, not nasty.

Prison guards will be killed, claimed president Bevan Hanlon, as a result of denying parole to the worst violent and/or sexual offenders. The logic is ludicrous and, if applied, would mean that the more dangerous the inmate, the quicker they should be released.

But then our prisons tend to resemble three-star motels. They are made onerous by the company rather than the conditions. Certainly if one is a gang member, then prison has evolved into a fraternal glee club. Which is why some prison guards have a relaxed attitude towards drugs inside. Anything, they reason, that makes their job easier.


Absolutely Mayor Michael, absolutely. The punishment needs to fit the crime, and surely, prisons are a vehicle to punish, as well as providing protection for the law-abiding amongst us.

And just as predictable as the Corrections Assn's reaction was that of the liberals, at whom Laws also takes a swipe:

Of course, there will be much hand-wringing from the usual suspects as the bill passes through parliament. The Kim Workmans, Greg Newbolds, Denis O'Reillys and the like will parade their sympathy. They will claim that none of this will rehabilitate these poor prisoners as functioning members of our society. And they're right: it won't.

But then we don't care. We prefer the three strikes offenders to be out of society altogether. We're not interested in their being given another chance – they blew it. And blew it. And blew it again. Welcome to the consequences. We're not talking about nice people having a bit of bad luck. We are talking about the scum of the earth. Society has an inherent right to protect itself from such. And a duty to ensure that the potential for decent folk becoming new victims is also reduced.


And you know what? He's dead right again. Our whole mentality as a nation has changed over the last 20 or so years into insulating our young from consequences. And guess what - in our ever-and-exceedingly-humble opinion, that as much as anything has contributed to the current social demise. Our young people need firm and clear boundaries, and there need to be equally firm and clear consequences when they cross those boundaries. Because young people without boundaries grow into adults who don't give a toss about anyone but themselves.

Accepting the "three strikes" approach means admitting that we have failed. It means admitting that there are some amongst us who cannot be rehabilitated, however well-intentioned those who try are. It means identifying the worst of our offenders, and if they are stupid enough to continue offending, or if they simply don't care it means locking them up for the maximum time allowed by law. Because the consequences of NOT doing that do not bear thinking about.

Christian Music Sunday - 24/1/2010

The Parachute Music Festival is on next weekend at Mystery Creek in Hamilton. Much as we'd love to be there, we've got some other commitments, so we'll have to wait until 2011.

One of the headliners for Parachute this year is Leeland. Right out of the Lone Star State, Leeland is centred around brothers Leeland and Jack Mooring. Musically, the band cites Coldplay and U2 among its influences. The fusion of Britpop and modern worship certainly works for us! The band members have strong social consciences, and the clip that follows gives an insight into the journey which God is taking them on.

Having been involved in ministry to the disadvantaged and the unloved, we can really relate to Leeland's message, and the words of this song; we hope that someone out there will be encouraged today. Enjoy this stripped-back, acoustic version of Follow You


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The tax burden

John Roughan nails the unfairness of the current tax system in his column this morning - he says:

One line leaps out at me from the tax report published on Wednesday. It says the top 10 per cent of income earners now pay 44 per cent of all personal income tax. Think about that.

Nearly half of all personal tax revenue is contributed by just 10 per cent of us. Is this socially healthy? Progressive taxation is a fine principle but its ardent proponents seldom calculate the disproportionality of contributions to the common good.


D'ya think that's bad? As they say on the telly - but wait; there's more (our emphasis added):

Read a few lines further into the Tax Working Group's report and the picture gets worse. Once you distribute family tax credits, welfare benefits and national superannuation those top 10 per cent of taxpayers have provided 76 per cent of what is left for general public services. Seventy six per cent.

The Working for Families refund alone results in 40 per cent of households effectively paying no income tax. It would be cheaper not to tax their wages at all. The dependency ratio is not quite as bad as this of course because everyone pays GST at the same rate. Progressive taxers hate GST for precisely that reason.

We will hear from them if the Government adopts the working group's suggestion to raise the rate.

This, of course demonstrates the dilemma that the government faces in reforming the tax system it inherited. Much as the far right calls for Working For Families to be dismantled, it will not be. The plain fact of the matter is that it CANNOT be, because it is so entrenched. That dear readers, is the REAL legacy of the Clark government.

Wellington's weather

We got a taste of Wellington's miserable summer last weekend, and it certainly blew any suggestions of Global Warming out the window! And from all reports, there's more of the same in the capital today.

As we were driving down to work, we were listening to Newstalk ZB, and heard Paul Holmes talking to Kevin Milne, who came up with this little gem. He reckoned that it was most ironic that when Prince William came to town during the week that John Key, in the best traditions of Kiwi manhood put on a BBQ for him. He suggested that it was quite possibly the only BBQ to have been lit in Wellington this summer, which would explain why people were jumping the fence to get in!

Young on Labour's direction

Audrey Young has written a very perceptive piece in her Herald blog today concerning the challenges that Phil Goff faces as the new political year begins. It's well worth a read, and whilst we are not going to copy and paste vast tracts of it, we thought that this piece on Labour's "must do betters" was worthy of note:

Trevor Mallard can safely assume he will be an unspoken target of Goff's "must improve" team talk.

Mallard made a hit in the blogosphere with his deft hand on Labour's Red Alert, where he is also overlord with veto rights on what runs.

But he has been patchy on education where Anne Tolley is considered one of National's vulnerable ministers.

For others, it won't be hard to improve because they did so badly last year.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Carter had a shocking year, due in no small part to his reaction to media stories about about high travel costs. He will miss the first caucus meeting because he is in the Caribbean monitoring elections for the Commonwealth.

Parekura Horomia made no impact against the Maori Party but is seen as untouchable because he held his seat against it, and is the senior Maori.

Shane Jones, whose leadership ambitions are a frequent source of teasing by National, made no impact in his areas of environment and economic development, but was de facto Maori Affairs spokesman.

And David Cunliffe, whose leadership ambitions are a regular source of teasing within Labour, will be expected to do better against Finance Minister Bill English.

Cunliffe's failings in the past year have brought increasing comment.

He is highly intelligent and was an able minister. But he did not get traction last year in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

That is forgivable in the first year of a popular new government that used the recession to win the war over the quality of Labour's legacy.

Has Audrey Young picked up the scent of a leadership spill in the wind? We have to ask that question, as we wonder why she would so discredit all those who covet the Labour leadership, especially Mallard, Jones and Cunliffe. After all, with Goff's involvement in trying to set up Richard Worth well doucmented, a bit of "friendly fire" at the enemy within would be child's play!

At the same time though, we agree with her - each of the above had poor years. Mallard in particular has taken his bullying style into the blogosphere, and Red Alert becomes less of a forum for debate each day as Censor Mallard wields his red cyberpencil.

As for Jones and Cunliffe - well, there is still Bill Liu's trial to come, on matters of passport fraud - offences committed whilst they were Ministers in the last government, and issues about which searching questions have been asked and never answered.

And after the reception John Key received at Ratana yesterday, we will be watching with interest to see how Goff and Labour are received tomorrow in their former stronghold. Heck, we might even have to go out there for a couple of hours to korero with the morehu, and to share a kai ...

Friday, January 22, 2010

On the road again ... again...

Yep, we're out of town again today, headed for Taranaki where someone will have the daunting task of trying to teach an old dog some new tricks.

We thought we had this business lurk sussed, until we hit a few bumps in the road last year. Being typical, resourceful, DYI types we (me, myself and I) boxed on, until we realised that as they say in the family violence adverts, it IS ok to ask for help. A bit of fine-tuning later, and everything was on the up-and-up again. And we've certainly hit the ground running in 2010.

So we'll be away from our lap-top for much of today, but we're sure you'll be ok. In our part of the world we have a long weekend to look forward to; Monday is Wellington Anniversary Day. Unfortunately, we'll probably spend at least part of Monday in the office doing the things we didn't do today; such is the lot of the small business owner! But with any luck, we'll have some new skills to try!!

This Sporting Life - 22/1/2010

It's Friday again, and thoughts turn to the weekend's sport. The Aussie Open tennis has been a great watch so far, and the timing of the matches couldn't be better for viewers here.

Not so unfortunately for the Phoenix's attempt to win four on the bounce - with the away trip to Perth, tonight's match kicks off at midnight, so we'll rely on MySky thanks very much. We confidently predict that Eugene Dadi will be primed for this match against the side that didn't want him! Whatever happens, the 'Nix will still be in the top six at the end of the weekend, and with the second-best goal difference in the A-League (+9), the playoffs beckon for the first time.

Shane Bond will still be pinching himself today - the $NZ1m man! Are the IPL auctions a joke? Do they discriminate against Pakistanis? Whaddya reckon?

There's a few topics - now the floor is, as always, yours
...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gooners rule!




Just when we were in need of a tonic, we read this in the Herald:


Arsenal came back from two goals down to beat Bolton 4-2 this morning and go top of the Premier League.

Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas pulled Arsenal level after Bolton had surged into a surprise 2-0 lead. Defender Thomas Vermaelen made it 3-2 with a fierce shot and with five minutes left Andrei Arshavin scored the goal that put Arsenal into first place on goal difference.

It was the first time Arsenal has recovered from being 2-0 down to win a Premier League game in almost two years - the last was against the same opponent - and confirmed the impression that Arsenal is a genuine contender for a first Premier League title since 2004.

Arsenal joined Chelsea on 48 points, one more than defending champion Manchester United. Tottenham stayed in fourth place despite a 2-0 loss at Liverpool.

Season on! The King's Road Mincers and The Scum will be quaking in their boots ...

More sour grapes

Sour grapes seems to be the theme for the day! This time cricket legend Javed Miandad, bemoaning the lack of Pakistanis being picked up in the IPL auctions during the week. Cop this exhibition of dummy-spitting:

Former Pakistan cricket great Javed Miandad has called on the game's governing body to take control of Twenty20 tournaments after none of the country's players attracted any bids from Indian Premier League teams during its auction for players.

Pakistan is the reigning Twenty20 world champion and Miandad regards the failure to bid for its players as a snub for the nation.

"It's nothing less than humiliation - not only of our cricketers but the whole nation," said Miandad, the Pakistan Cricket Board's director of operations. "When we call IPL an ICC approved tournament, it should mean that at least all the test playing countries will get a substantial representation in the event."

Eleven Pakistan cricketers, including its Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi, had registered for the IPL auction but none of the eight IPL franchises bid for them.


Here's a word which Javed might like to reflect on - form. Here's another - consistency. And another - confidence. There's bound to be more words, which you might like to add in the comments section.

But Javed needs to get real. The Pakistanis have played some awful cricket in recent months, especially in Australia. We're surprised that Afridi wasn't picked up, and to a lesser extent Umar Akmal, although the latter has batted his way out of form in Australia. But after those two, the cupboard is pretty bare.

In his playing days, Javed was a great batsman, but also a precocious and petulant individual. Time does not seem to have dimmed the latter.



Sour grapes Gareth?

We watched a rather soft inteview of Garet Morgan on Breakfast this morning. The "well-known economist" was, of course a member of the Tax Working Group, which reported its findings yesterday. It was pretty apparent from Morgan's comments that he was a dissenter to the overall report, which he scored at 4/10.

But did we hear Gareth Morgan correctly? Did he REALLY opine that the top tax rate for companies, trusts and individuals should be a staggering 45%?

Such a decision would be catastrophic to New Zealand. The tax system is already discriminatory towards those on higher incomes, thanks to Michael Cullen's post-1999 meddling. And in describing Working For Families as "ubiquitous" Morgan may have inadvertently fingered the real problem. Thanks to WFF, many lower income families pay little if any tax after their WFF credits. The wants and needs of everyone are paid for by the labours of a much smaller number. And unfortunately, WFF is now so entrenched that it will be difficult to wind back.

But a 45% top tax rate Gareth? Thank goodness that you were but a voice in the wilderness!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

RIP Bill - Updated

We awoke to the news this morning that Bill McLaren, the doyen of British rugby commentators has died at the ripe old age of 86. Although McLaren hasn't commentated for a few years now, his Scottish burr was an integral part of the rugby landscape (or soundscape). He was one of the greatest.

And so, as a tribute, enjoy one of Scotland rugby's finest moments, the 1990 Grand Slam victory over England at Murrayfield, set to the wonderful, stirring sound of Flower of Scotland - for, as the words of the song say - "when will we see your likes again?". Not in our lifetime, that's for sure.

Rest well Bill McLaren; may you, as your fellow Celts say, have been half an hour in Heaven before the devil knows you're dead!




UPDATE: We've just found this video tribute to Bill McLaren - enjoy his dulcet tones one last time ...


Taxing matters

We're not economists, accountants or tas experts, but our first impressions of the Tax Working Group's recommendations to the Government are favourable. Insomniacs or those of the afrementioned groups can access the full report here.

It remains to be seen how many of the TWG's recommendations will be adopted by John Key and Bill English, but observers are suggesting that the government is listening intently. Let's hope that there are some significant policy announcements in the Budget.

The move to increase GST makes sense. GST is the fairest of all our taxes, in that everyone is taxed at the same rate on whatever they spend. Those who have more disposable income are taxed as that income is disbursed; those who spend less pay less. And it's hardly surprising that we wholeheartedly support the recommendations for both personal and business tax rates to be cut.

Bernard Hickey has written an excellent piece for the Herald; here's his conclusion:

John Key cannot brush this report aside in the same way as the 2025 Taskforce report was flicked away for being too radical and doctrinaire. The Tax Working Group report is a sober and careful collection of proposals that have the majority backing of technocrats, business leaders and economists. It is essentially apolitical, which makes it impossible to ignore in an MMP environment.

Let's see what John Key and Bill English do now. If they ignore it, they are essentially saying they are not reformers and will not listen to the best advice in the country. The May 2010 budget could be very significant indeed.


It's hard to disagree with that conclusion. John Key, Bill English and co have taken fourteen months to consider the future direction of the New Zealand economy. The time for thinking is over; it's now time for the Government to take decisive action.



Disaster tourism

We weren't blogging when the devastating tsunami struck in the Pacific on 30 Spetember. Accordingly, we didn't comment at the time on Chris Carter's "disaster tourism"; his hurried dash to Samoa, from whence he lambasted (wrongly) the NZ Government's response. We have however previously commented on Chris Carter's fondness for travel at someone else's expense.

So Chris Carter has announced that he is off again - this time to oversee elections in St Kitts and St Nevis on behalf of the Commonwealth. The irony of a senior member of the Clark administration advising on electoral corruption will not be lost on our discerning readers, we are sure. The phrase "poacher turned gamekeeper" comes to mind.

But Cactus Kate has been doing some research for Chris Carter - and she suggests that St Kitts might not be the best place for the openly-gay Labour MP to be visiting. Oh dear! We also wonder why, when the assignment in St Kitts and St Nevis is for 10 days, Carter blogs "I’m likely to be gone for just under three weeks". Is he off to Haiti to criticise the Government's response to THAT humanitarian crisis? Or is he just in need of a holiday? Ah, so many questions ...

Phil Goff and the politics of envy

Phil Goff has returned from the wilderness, or wherever he spent the Christmas break. His triumphant return was the star turn on Breakfast this morning, and doubtless his poll ratins are already heading for the stratosphere - in his own mind!

You see, Labour has still learned nothing from its humbling defeat in 2008, if this morning's interview was anything to go by. Asked by Paul Henry's stand-in Tim Wilson for his thoughts on John Key rejecting a rise in the minimum wage to $15, Goff replied "I'd like to see John Key survive on $12.50 an hour". Actually, Phil said "$12.50 a day", but he's had a long holiday, so we'll forgive him.

But this to us highlights Labour's obsession with John Key and his accumulated wealth. Sure, John Key has got a nice bit of dosh stacked away, but the reality is that the majority of New Zealanders don't actually care that much about it. If Labour's strategists believe that attacking John Key's wealth and lifestyle will be the circuit-breaker that restores the party's political fortunes, they're quite frankly deluded. Then again, is that such a bad thing for New Zealand?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Climategate

If anyone needed proof that "respected Climate scientist" Phil Jones had an agenda to advance Anthropogenic Global Warming, it's here for the world to see, encapsulated in one e-mail (our emphasis added):

From: Phil Jones
To: John Christy
Subject: This and that
Date: Tue Jul 5 15:51:55 2005 John,
……
This is from an Australian at BMRC (not Neville Nicholls). It began from the attached article. What an idiot. The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.



Yes, ladies and gentlemen. We now know that the science of climate change is very inexact, and that much of the inexactness is indeed man-made!


John Key's popularity

Much has been made of John Key's personal popularity since taking over as PM. He's still sitting at somewhere around the 60% mark in various Preferred Prime Minister polls, and despite a few PR disasters, his personal support holds firm. The left has tried its darnedest to discredit Key, but thus far, the only muck that has stuck has been on the throwers.

So here's a question - could this picture go some way to explaining John Key's popularity?




We reckon that it might. Can you imagine Helen Clark allowing the media to run such a candid and not-so-flattering image? We don't think so. But then again, we believe that Key has redefined a lot of aspects of his role. He's readily available, he can take a joke at his own expense, he doesn't get personal and nasty, and he seems to have the "common touch", however you define that. Add to the mix that he likes a beer, and even in the presence of royalty is happy to take a slug from the bottle, and you've got a fair number of bases covered!

The left will HATE this photo, and we predict that either The Standard or Red Alert will use it over the next few days to further try to denigrate John Key. It won't work; all it will be is further evidence of just how out-of-touch Labour is with the electorate, despite its protestations to the contrary.

The left struggle with not being able to put Key in any of their boxes; personally we think it's great to have a PM who has not come to the role through a lifetime "in the system", and we find his style to be a breath of fresh air. And based on polling, it would seem that a majority of New Zealanders share that view. Long may it continue.

PS - those whole Eye Fillets that the PM and Prince William are cooking look mouth-wateringly good!!