Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Herald on Sunday sting gone wrong?

So the Herald on Sunday is revealing all about Bailey Junior Kurariki, and his graduation to a new class of criminal; the sexual pest.

Frankly, there would be a lot more merit in this story were the complainants not Herald journalists looking for an angle. This story has "honey-trap" written all over it. If the Herald on Sunday had concerns over Kurariki, why was a burly male reporter or photographer not dispatched? Reflect on this:

The incident took place after a reporter rang West's home to speak to Kurariki about the episode involving the TV cameraman.

Kurariki answered the phone and began a conversation, during which he admitted the previously unreported return to prison in February for kicking a camera.

The reporter asked Kurariki if she and a photographer could visit to talk about his time in prison. He replied: "Yeah, yeah, as soon as possible. Come now so I don't get bored and I want to see my mates."

In our always exceeding humble opinion, the Herald on Sunday should not be giving Kurariki any oxygen - or column centimeters. And the editorial staff of the Herald on Sunday should reflect on the newspaper's role - which is, of course, to REPORT the news, and not to concoct it.

Clark's legacy

As time goes by, the legacy of Helen Clark's government becomes more and more apparent. Have a read of this, from The Press yesterday (our emphasis added):

Environment Canterbury (ECan) narrowly escaped Government intervention over its performance 18 months ago.

Complaints about the regional council were taken to the Labour Government but former Prime Minister Helen Clark would not act on them in the countdown to the 2008 election.

Labour Environment Minister Trevor Mallard, who had received the complaints from Canterbury MPs, the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and others, including some of the region's mayors, told The Press yesterday "everyone knew there was a problem there".

When former Labour minister Dr Michael Bassett said early in 2008 that Labour would do "whatever it takes" to win the election, we guess that this is the kind of thing he was talking about. We can only wonder what other skeletons will come to life and burst forth from their closets with the passage of time, and the departure to foreign climes of the former Dear Leader.

Oh; Trevor Mallard knew all about it too: quelle surprise! We wonder if that means that HE is on the list to receive The Text Message from NYC when The Night of the Long Knives arrives!

Tsunami warning

There's been a BIG eartquake in Chile, and Civil Defence has just issued a tsunami warning for the East Coast of both islands here.

Let's hope they're wrong, but it's better safe than sorry. In the meantime, our prayers go out to those affected in Chile where the death toll is rising rapidly.


Civil Defence said parts of the Chathams had been evacuated.

Canterbury CDEM group said residents in low lying areas of Banks Peninsula bays, where the tsunami was expected to arrive about 8.30am, should be prepared for an evacuation.

"People need to be ready to move to safety by 8am and may not be able to return for at least 24 hours."

People on coastal areas were asked to stay off beaches, avoid the water (including rivers and estuaries) and refer to media or their local Civil Defence authorities for updates.

The ministry asked that people avoid calling 111 for information, reserving that number for emergencies.

Estimates show the first wave reaching the east coast of the North Island by 8am ahead of the main centres of Wellington (8.25am), Christchurch (9.05am) and Auckland (10.22am).

"The first wave may arrive later and may not be the largest. Strong currents and unusual tidal effects may continue for several hours," the ministry said.

"Based on historical events it is expected that the greatest wave heights could occur between 6 and 12 hours after the initial arrivals."

UPDATE #2: A small wave has just reached the Chatham Islands - stay tuned for more updates as they come.

UPDATE #3: Stuff is reporting that the wave at the Chatham Islands has now grown to 1 metre (and continues to grow), and that a 20cm surge has hit East Cape.

Christian Music Sunday - 28/2/2010

There have been a number of of big bands in the Christian music scene through the last two decades, and the Newsboys are right in the top echelon. We've always had a soft spot for the lads, given the presence of Kiwi bass player Phil Joel, and given that the band was formed across the ditch in Australia.

And this is one of our favourite Newsboys songs - a modern-day hymn of praise to the Living God, who meets with grace us at our times of need - enjoy It is You ...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Embarassment coming for Labour?

Tucked away in the Herald is a story which just might be striking fear into the hearts of some former Labour ministers. Have a read of this (our emphasis added):

Shane Jones has revealed he reimbursed money put on his ministerial credit card on at least one occasion - a dinner he hosted for some architects.

Mr Jones said yesterday that he had paid back money to Ministerial Services related to the meal he hosted as Building Minister in 2008.

He did not recall the details, but said the sum he repaid was possibly for after-dinner drinks. Although the meal was related to his portfolio, he had looked at his statement later and decided to repay some of the costs.

"I met part of the costs because I didn't feel it was all related to being a minister. I looked at it and said, 'No, that's over the top."'

His admission precedes the release of the records of former Labour ministers' credit cards, requested under the Official Information Act and likely to happen as soon as next week.

Hmm - we wonder how many FORMER ministers will be calling in the Auditor-General to exonerate them; or how many quivering lips there will be in the next week or so, as the salacious details are drip-fed to the masses.

And over at the Dom-Post, Tracy Watkins compares National's response to OIA requests with that of the previous administration, noting the absence of a certain personage - she writes:

Requests under the Official Information Act for ministers' credit card expenses have been made before. But what was new about this week's release was the manner in which the information was provided. Minister's credit card statements were supplied in their unvarnished form. Identical requests under the former government garnered nothing like the same level of disclosure; the information was supplied in table form, with totals ascribed to each minister and little more. The only checks that could be made were phone calls to individual ministers, asking them for an explanation as to why they had run up a particularly large bill in comparison to others.

The explanation from Internal Affairs was the way this particular request from The Dominion Post was worded. The more likely explanation is that ministerial credit card OIA's, like most other skerricks of information relating to the last Labour government, had to pass through chief of staff Heather Simpson first. Ms Simpson's iron fisted control and ability to spot a political bushfire from 100 miles away are legendary – she was so successful, National has adopted many of Labour's strategies for political management. But in the case of this week's OIA there was either a conscious decision made to set a new benchmark or National lacks anyone with the same powerful oversight and ruthless attention to detail as Ms Simpson.

But now the benchmark has been set, there is no going back. It opens the door to OIA's for the unvarnished records of Labour ministers. But it would be surprising if it didn't also make ministers think twice before they run up expenses on their credit card.

H2 - sheesh, we'd forgotten about her! Oh dear; we're willing to wager that there is a large number of former ministers who, right at this moment wish that Helen Clark's trusty Chief of Staff was there to throw up a firewall around them. And what a shame it is that she isn't!

Cleaning up hypocrisy II

We blogged last week about Labour's hypocrisy over parliamentary cleaners' wages. Some people, it seems, never learn!

Darien Fenton is at it again. Over at Red Alert, she blogs:

After protesting at parliament last week, followed by Labour MPs writing to the speaker, cleaners at Parliament have sent their own letter to the Speaker, asking him to assist. This is a big deal for these cleaners to do this, just as it was for them to protest outside parliament last week – they’ve never done it before and as they say, they are largely invisible, working during the night when politicians are sleeping to keep their offices clean and maintained to a high standard.

Meanwhile, I want to introduce you to Jaine Ikurere, who cleans John Key’s office. She’s signed the letter, and like the other cleaners at Parliament, earns just $12.55 an hour.

I hope Mr Speaker listens to Jaine and her fellow cleaners.

Oh, Darien! She still hasn't answered bikerkiwi's question from the last time that she blogged about this - what were the cleaners earning 15 months ago, and why didn't Labour do something about their wages if they were so low? And given that the former Speaker, Margaret Wilson was a former Minister of Labour, you'd think SHE would have done something about it.

Wethinks that Darien Fenton is after Chris Carter's job - that of Shadow Minister of Own Goals. Her, and Labour's hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking.

Postscript: We've just scanned the comments section of Fenton's post, and bikerkiwi has asked some more searching questions:

bikerkiwi says:

Just out of interest –
What was the advertised wage for the job she applied for?
What was the wage she accepted when offered?
What was the wage she signed for in her employment contract?

Yep – must have come as a shock.

No sympathy – and sadly – it smacks of labour pandering, again.

Wither goest thou Rodney?

As Act's annual conference begins, John Armstrong has a thought-provoking column in today's Herald. He begins:

As far as personal torment goes, Rodney Hide at times cuts a tragic figure of almost Shakespearian proportions.

Never more so than last year when Act's leader was forced to make an abject public apology for being less than frugal with taxpayers' money.

Whether or not the public bought the sincerity of that apology, there is little question that Hide's spectacular fall from grace has made it a lot more difficult, if not impossible for him to resuscitate Act's flagging support in the polls.

Backing for Act is now flat-lining at around 2 per cent. The phone is well and truly off the hook as far as voters are concerned.

Whether Hide can re-establish the connection - even whether he is still the right person to be trying to do so - will be weighing heavily on delegates' minds during Act's annual conference in Wellington this weekend.

No one will be injudicious enough to mention last November's failed leadership coup against Hide mounted by his deputy, Heather Roy, and the party's ideological guru, Sir Roger Douglas.

Even the slightest reference to that fiasco will create the kind of headlines which will turn the conference into a public relations disaster.

Ah yes; rather like the immortal line from the Fawlty Towers "German Tourists" episode which has been repeated ad nauseum ever since - "Don't mention the war!". Armstrong the does just that, and backgrounds the move against Hide from late last year. He opines that the pressure is indeed on Rodney Hide to perform this weekend.

Hide has a luxury that other Act MP's don't have though; he is an electorate MP, and is the reason that the other Act MP's are in Parliament. We don't reckon that should be underestimated.

And as Armstrong closes, he seems to yearn for a return to Old Rodney:

His one concession to his critics is acceptance that he needs to spend less time wearing his ministerial hat in Wellington and more time going around the country flying the flag for Act.

Hide argues that it was necessary for him to devote time and energy last year at the coal-face of Government policy formation to ensure Act secured gains from National, such as the three-strikes-and-your-out measure. Otherwise, Act would have little concrete by way of achievements to shout about at the next election.

He also believes Key's centrist inclinations and unwillingness to force the pace of economic reform are frustrating many National supporters and opening up the possibility for Act to pick up support on National's right flank.

Maybe. But the thing the Act faithful want to see first is the resurrection of the Rodney Hide of old - the passionate, energised and tireless advocate of Act principles. On that score, Hide cannot afford to disappoint when he takes centre-stage later this afternoon.

We just hope that Rodney doesn't wear his yellow blazer today!

Only to be expected

We didn't have huge expectations of ther Black Caps last night, which is probably just as well. They got spanked by the Australians.

The outcome was predictable; the Aussies are a class outfit (heck, it pains us to say that!), and they've just come off an unbeaten summer, whereas we warmed up with Bangladesh. And the Black Caps weren't helped by a shocker of an LBW decision from international panel umpire Billy Bowden against Ross Taylor. It was such a bad decision it would have done Asoka (A-shocker) de Silva proud, and that's saying something!

We wondered about the Black Caps' selection and tactics too. Even though he made a few runs last night, we don't reckon that Gareth Hopkins is an international cricketer, and he's not a patch on Brendon McCullum as a 'keeper. We'd drop him for the Christchurch match tomorrow, and bring in another batsman - Scott Styrus, Neil Broom or even Kane Williamson. And what was the point of batting Dan Vettori at #9?

So it's on to Christchurch where the pitch will be faster than that at Wellington; just the news the Black Caps didn't want to hear! At least the weather played its part last night, as it is forecast to tomorrow, and the fans turned out in good numbers.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Is Phil a VIP?

There's no prizes for guessing where Herald "journalist" Derek Chang's political sympathies lie. He has a story in the esteemed paper this morning on MP's expenses as released yesterday. We're not going to dignify it by publishing vast tracts - you can read it here if you so desire.

Why do we say that? Well, after lambasting no less than four National or Act MP's, Cheng finally gets around to mentioning Phil Goff in the SEVENTH paragraph of a twelve-paragraph piece. Why is that significant? Well, it may not matter to Cheng, but Phil Goff was the biggest trougher of the three-month period by a considerable distance.

But wait; there's more! Cheng excuses Goff because "this figure included $16,532 worth of VIP Transport invoices from travel that took place in the previous quarter.". And it gets worse; Cheng then makes excuses for Shane Jones and Parekura Horomia - have a read of this bit:

Mr Horomia has a large electorate to cover, while Mr Jones is an in-demand speaker who often travels around the country.

What rubbish! Still, we're sure that the Herald's EPMU shop steward will be delighted by what Derek Cheng has written. This article will take some beating as the most politically-slanted of the year.

But back to the title of this post; is Phil Goff REALLY a VIP, or should he resign for the "fraud" he has committed by representing himself as one?

This Sporting Life - 26/2/2010

Goodness! We're almost two months into the year; where has time gone?

We guess the big news today is the start of the tour by the Australian cricket team. We did have plans to go down to Wellington today, but work has got in the way. We're hoping though to get to the final ODI tomorrow fortnight. It's in the shorter formats of the game that the Black Caps have the best chance of causing an upset - and let's not beat around the bush; if the Black Caps beat the Ockers at the moment, it would be a huge upset!

Meanwhile the mighty Wellington Phoenix get a week off, and all signs point towards a full house at the Ring of Fire next weekend. Again, we're not going to be able to get down there, which disappoints us hugely.

Lastly, a big ups to whoever at New Zealand Cricket did the scheduling for the Aussie tour. Both the T20 matches will be preceded by games between the respective women's teams. That gives great exposure to women's cricket, and gives the fans a bit more bang for their buck. We envy our Darling Daughter who is going to the game in Christchurch on Sunday.

That's it from us for now; what's pressing YOUR buttons today?

A quick response

WINZ has wasted no time at all in giving Benjamin Easton (whom we blogged about yesterday) the message - the Dom-Post reports:

A unemployed man trying to stop Manners Mall from becoming a bus-only road says his dole has been cut after he admitted he had no intention of getting a job.

Activist Benjamin Easton, 49, also revealed he had not had a job interview since he went on the dole nearly three years ago.

He met Work and Income for a work test yesterday after telling The Dominion Post he was on the benefit deliberately so he could bring the "people's challenge to the courts" and that he was "perfectly capable of earning".

Mr Easton said last night he had received a letter from Work and Income telling him he did not meet eligibility criteria and his benefit had been stopped as of yesterday.

His $70 weekly accommodation supplement would continue.

The Social Security Act states that anyone receiving the dole has an obligation to look for work and be available to work.

Mr Easton said after the meeting that he had no intention of looking for paid work and had not applied for any jobs since going on the dole in 2007. "I am not going to stop doing what I'm doing."

Work and Income deputy chief executive Patricia Reade said all beneficiaries knew of their job-seeking obligations.

"This is a person who has a track record of challenging the system and by his own admission does not want a job."

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was appalled that Mr Easton had no intention of finding a job despite being on the benefit.

"That's simply not acceptable. It is an abuse of a welfare system designed for people in real need.

We have highlighted Paula Bennett's comment for good reasons. In our exceeding humble opinion, it encapsulates everything that is wrong with the welfare system. We've somehow migrated from helping those in genuine need to providing a lifestyle choice. Successive governments from both sides of the political divide have shied away from making tough political decisions.

Does John Key's government have the political will to overhaul welfare? Bennett is certainly making the right noises, but there's a huge challenge in dismantling a system which is so entrenched. Should National get a second term next year, we would hope that there will be some meaningful reform of the social welfare system. In the meantime, rorters such as Benjamin Eaton are now aware the end of the golden weather is nigh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mirror, mirror ...

Mirror, mirror on the wall;
Who's the biggest trougher of all?

Well, let's just say that Phil Goff will be very grateful for the furore over Phil Heatley's resignation. For our dear mate Phil has succeeded Hone Harawira and Chris Carter as Parliament's Trougher Par Execellence, having amassed $89,454 of expenses including $69,657 in surface travel in the three months ended 31 December 2009.

We're not sure quite how one runs up almost $6k a week in surface travel. Perhaps Phil had a lot of BBQ's to go to during that period!

UPDATE: Susan Wood has just asked a two pertinent questions on Newstalk ZB. Given that the expenses period includes the Christmas break, Phill Goff seems to have spent around $1000 per day on surface travel. So where has he been, and why hasn't made a single dent in the opinion polls?

We love it!!

Breaking news - Heatley gone

Stuff is reporting that Housing Minister Phil Heatley is about to resign. He's holding a media conference at 11am

Watch this space ... whether Heatley fell, or whether he was pushed is a moot point. But John Key has again been quick to draw a line in the sand where a Minister behaves in a manner not befitting his role.

UPDATE: He's resigning because he wasn't completely accurate with his explanation of expense claims earlier in the week - but it's hard to escape the conclusion that there's something more going on.

UPDATE II: This, from Heatley's statement:

Mr Heatley said he had discovered another inaccuracy in his ministerial expenses, whereby two bottles of wine charged as "food and beverages" was actually only wine.

"I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept that this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.

"But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning," Mr Heatley said.

Earlier this week Mr Heatley was forced to apologise and has paid back $1260 after revealations that he used his ministerial credit card outside the rules.

His billing included $175 on alcohol and food at the National Party conference in Christchurch last August, and almost $1000 on travel during a ministerial trip to the top of the South Island with his family.

The former minister has also submitted his accounts to Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry, which would be made public.

"I believe this is the right course of action. I have absolutely no desire to become the focus of a distraction for this Government, which has much to do to grow the economy, invest in jobs and help Kiwis ahead."

If that's the case, full marks to him. He's shown a level of personal responsibility that was sadly missing from the previous administration. Has anyone from Labour yet condemned Taito Philip Field?

The Little Master

It was probably the last individual milestone in cricket. And it now belongs to the Little Master, Indian batting star Sachin Tendulkar. Cricinfo reports:

It took nearly 40 years of waiting and it was well worth it. Sachin Tendulkar chose one of the better bowling attacks doing the rounds, to eclipse the record for the highest score, before bringing up the first ever double-hundred in ODI history. The spectators at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium became the envy of Indian cricket fans as they witnessed one of the country's favourite sporting heroes play a breathtaking innings which not only set up a 153-run annihilation but also the series victory. He may have been run-out cheaply in the previous match, but nothing could deny him today - be it bowlers, fielders, mix-ups or cramps. Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni stood by and admired as the master unfurled all the shots in his repertoire.

At 36, Tendulkar hasn't shown signs of ageing, and his sparkling touch in both forms of the game has ruled out all possibilities of him checking out anytime soon. Fatigue, cramps and paucity of time have stood in the way of batsmen going that extra mile to get to the 200-mark. Tendulkar did cramp up after crossing 150, but he didn't opt for a runner. His experience of 20 years at the international level came into play in this historic innings, staying at the crease from the first ball to the last, never once losing focus. There were no chances offered, no dropped catches, making his innings absolutely flawless.

A swirl of emotions must have run through his mind as he approached one record after another but he ensured he was never lost in the moment. His running between the wickets remained just as swift as it had been at the start of the innings. The humidity in Gwalior was bound to test him but he stood above it all and played like he owned the game, toying with the bowling with a mix of nonchalance and brute power.

In the 46th over, with a flick for two past short fine-leg, Tendulkar broke the record for the highest ODI score, going past the 194 made by Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry and Pakistan's Saeed Anwar, and to say that he acknowledged his feat modestly would be an understatement. His muted celebration on going past 194, true to style, made his innings all the more endearing. He didn't raise his bat, merely shook hands with Mark Boucher and simply carried on batting amid the din. Coming from a man who is not known to showing too much emotion with the bat in hand, it wasn't surprising. He reserved his celebrations for the magic figure of 200, which he reached in the final over with a squirt off Charl Langeveldt past backward point. He raised his bat, took off his helmet and looked up at the skies and it was only fitting that one-day cricket's highest run-getter reached the landmark.

Of course it raises the question; is Tendulkar the best batsman of all time, or does that homnour rest with the late Sir Donald Bradman? It's a dilemma; how does one compare players from different eras?

We'll say one thing for sure though; Tendulkar is far and away the best we've seen in our lifetime, and as Father Time marches on, we've seen a few!

Bad news for bludgers

It would seem that Paula Bennet's promise to crack down on those rorting the welfare system is happening. The Dom-Post reports:

An unemployed Wellington man who boasted he was living on the dole to run court crusades on social issues has been told to report for an immediate work test.

Benjamin Easton, who has lodged an Environment Court appeal to stop Manners Mall being turned into a buses-only road, told The Dominion Post on Tuesday he was "deliberately and directly" on the dole so he could bring "the people's challenge to the courts".

"It is a sacrifice, really. I am perfectly capable of earning."

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she was "appalled" by the comments, and Work and Income officials had called Mr Easton in for an immediate work test after reading them.

She would not comment on what that would involve in his specific case, but said his views indicated he was in the category of beneficiaries to be targeted under a new regime of work tests due this year.

"It's exactly the type of person that our welfare changes are meant to identify and actually move off a benefit and into work. There will be obligations on people like him that they must meet."

Nine years of a government giving incentives NOT to work is nine years too long. We applaud Paula Bennett's quick action to introduce Benjamin Easton to the real world; the world where no-one owes anyone a living, and where one has to work for their dosh. It's the reality for most of us, and it will doubtless come as a shock to "crusaders" and single-issue nutters such as Easton.

And we welcome this from John Key's government:

The row comes as Ms Bennett prepares new work-test rules that will see people on the dole lose their benefit after a year if they cannot show an honest attempt to find work.

"If you say, 'well, actually, I haven't done anything and I live deliberately and directly on the unemployment benefit so I can bring the people's challenge to the courts and to the system', then we will cancel your benefit."

She is also planning compulsory work tests for sickness beneficiaries deemed fit to work part-time and domestic purposes beneficiaries whose youngest child is six.

Ms Bennett said she wanted a simplified system for work tests, with graduated sanctions rather than the current sole sanction of complete suspension or cancellation.

Paula Bennett will not get any argument from us on these proposals. They are overdue, and absolutely necessary. Doubtless there will be the normal wailing and gnashing of teeth from the usual sources (Sue Bradford will be to the fore, screaming "beneficiary-bashing"), but we suspect that the majority of New Zealanders will be right behind the government on this issue.

And if they want to bleat, the whingers whould blame Benjamin Easton, whose big mouth and big boasts have made him Paula Bennett's poster boy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scum; complete and utter scum

Words can't express the sense of revulsion we feel reading this story in the Herald:

Thieves broke into the home of a Kings College student who died in his sleep last week taking thousands of dollars worth of electronics, including a computer bearing his childhood photos.

A large funeral was held for William Richard Thode, 15, at the college on Monday and his Remuera home was hit yesterday about 3pm.

William's uncle Peter Motion said two computers and a number of electronic devices - worth in excess of $10,000 - were taken, but the family's only concern was the Apple Mac with the photos.

He pleaded with the thieves to drop the hard drive or a memory stick with the photos off to a police station or the Herald.

There's no too ways about it; the bastards who did this are the scum of the earth. On the off chance that anyone reading this knows anything, please, please let the Police know. Perhaps we're still feeling a bit raw from our uninvited guests last week, but this crime has sickened us. We hope that the perps are in custody very soon.

Who's paying for Bryers

So Mark Bryers has 'fessed up to a few trivial charges over the failue of finance company Blue Chip. He is due to be sentenced on 20 May, but it seems unlikely that he will do any prison time for his misdeeds. That stinks.

First things first; we have/had no stake in Blue Chip or any of the other finance companies which fell over. So these observations are ours personally, and are not motivated by any financial considerations. We can however sympathise with those who lost large sums of money, and we can understand why investors might wish to turn up at Court to show their contempt of Bryers when he is sentenced.

But we're curious folks, and this bit caught our eye in the Herald story:

Judge Treston ordered Bryers be interviewed for a pre-sentence report to determine whether he has the ability to pay a fine.

Bryers was bankrupted in October but is allowed to travel between New Zealand and Australia, where he lives in a luxury Sydney apartment. He estimates he owes $173 million and says his only assets are clothes, furniture and golf clubs.

OK - can anyone explain how if Bryers is bankrupt, he is able to fly between New Zealand and Australia? Does he have a benevolent employer? Or is the more likely explanation that he has safely tucked his millions away in a myriad of trusts which secretly fund his lifestyle whilst he publicly pleads poverty?

We reckon that these are issues which need to be explored before Bryers is sentenced in three months time. This guy is the wide boy to end all wide boys. He was happy to rip off hundreds of small investors, and they, more than anyone, need to see justice being done.

Telecom's woes - the continuing saga

The fallout over the Telecom XT network's repeated failures is spreading quickly, and the company is taking a major hit. A senior Telecom manager has resigned, as has the New Zealand manager from Telecom's technology partner Alcatel.

We wonder how long it will be before Telecom's CEO, Dr Paul Reynolds is shown the door by the board. He's reputed to earn $7m per annum, which makes him arguably New Zealand's highest salary earner. With a salary of that level must come a heightened level of accountability, and when the dust settles on the XT failures, we'd expect that Dr Reynolds' future would be under review. That's especially so as Telecom is poised to lose significant ongoing revenue as disgruntled customers take their business elsewhere.

Even through all this, it's still possible to have a laugh; commenter Leg Break suggested yesterday that Frank Mount (Telecom's Transformations Manager, whose resignation was announced yesterday) had actually resigned via text message last week, but the message only got through on Tuesday ...

Thank goodness!

Ricki Herbert will be dancing with joy. The Herald reports that All Whites' captain Ryan Nelsen's knee injury at the weekend is not particularly serious, and that he will still be available for the World Cup later in the year.

Nelsen was the absolute rock of the All Whites' defence during the qualifying matches against Bahrain. He would have been a huge loss to the team. That will be one less worry on Herbert's mind as he completes his recce in South Africa, before returning to prepare the Wellington Phoenix for its next assignment.


There were quite a few slapdowns during Question Time yesterday. But given that we had blogged about Labour's hypocrisy over mining in the conservation estate, we thought that this one was the best of all (our emphasis added):

11. CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he stand by his statement that “I have made it clear that the Government has no intention of mining high-value conservation land”?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Energy and Resources) : Yes.

Charles Chauvel: What did the Minister’s colleague Nick Smith say to the Minister when he told him that he was considering altering schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act to exclude parts of the Kahurangi National Park in order to allow easier access for mining; and is the Minister, unlike Nick Smith, able to rule out boundary changes for the Kahurangi National Park, or alterations to schedule 4 that would allow easier access for mining within the park?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The answer to that question will ultimately be made by the people of New Zealand, who will be asked to respond to a discussion document that the Government intends to release early next month.

Charles Chauvel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question simply asked the Minister to tell the House what his ministerial colleague Nick Smith had said about Kahurangi National Park, but the question simply was not addressed.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, in fairness to the honourable member, the problem I have with members seeking my help with answers to questions is that too often they get up and say on a point of order that “My question was this.”, but in fact there was a whole lot more to the question than that. Ministers are entitled to answer whichever part of a question they choose. Members will observe that where very precise questions are asked, I have been pretty tough on Ministers in requiring them to deliver an answer to those questions. But the discipline lies with the questioner.

Chris Auchinvole: Has the Minister seen any statements in support of mining on conservation land?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, I have. I have seen a statement from the Hon Phil Goff, which says: “I think most New Zealanders want to see a balance. They want to see some areas that are less sensitive in the conservation estate available to environmentally sensitive mining.” However, I have also seen a statement from the member who asked the primary question, Mr Charles Chauvel, in which he says: “What we will not do is permit exploration or mining on the conservation estate.” Mr Chauvel seems to forget that under Labour there were no fewer than 82 mines on conservation land. I suggest that Mr Chauvel makes it clear to the House whether he or the Leader of the Opposition speaks for the party.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You'll have to be quick ...

This auction on TradeMe closes in just over 2 hours. The current leading bid is $1010.00. The auction reads:

Telecoms latest edition to the XT network.
They have gone back to basics so there will be no more problems with receiving texts or calls.
Finished in stylish solid oak, you will be the talk of the office with this puppy.
Crank Handle giving you just one very clear ring tone.
Full size handset so you can pass it round the table at the pub, giving you that "At home feeling".
Never have to worry .... "where did I leave my phone".
Very easy to learn Morse Code text [at least you will get them]

This is a very limited edition and comes with a red weed eater nylon Handle.

Already has its own number 027 XT SUX

Brilliant; absolutely brilliant! Does anyone feel sorry for Telecom here?

Hat-tip: Kiwiblog

Extreme Makeover - Palmy edition

So Palmerston North wants a new image.

Right, we'll let you in on a closely-guarded secret; we (me, myself and are) are born-and-bred Palmerstonians, before we migrated to Wanganui a good number of years ago. We still have some form of emotional attachment to the place.

So we've decided to help the city of our birth in its hour of need. If Palmerston Norths wants or needs an Extreme Makeover, where better to publicise it than the blogosphere? As Tai Pennington from the TV programme Extreme Makeover; Home Edition would say "Are you with me? Let's DOOOOOOO it!"

Let's come up with a new slogan for Palmy today. We have a few ideas percolating, but we need your input. It's a bit like a caption contest without a caption. And if we get a good enough response, we'll short-list the suggestions and put them to a vote by way of a poll, then send the winner to the Palmerston North City Council to consider. And because we are good, magnanimous former Palmerstonians, we won't even ask for a slice of the $200k pie which the PNCC is budgeting.

Right; it's time for action - here's a starter from us:

Palmerston North; it'll blow you away!

Understatement of the week!

Keeping Stock's prize for the Understatement of the Week goes to this gem in today's Dom-Post:

Palmerston North requires an image update say councillors

The story goes on to say:

Mr Teo-Sherrell agreed the city's image had not shifted far in recent times, adding that he attended a seminar in Wellington recently where Palmerston North was the "laughing stock".

Documents provided to the council said the $200,000 would go toward "opportunities that promote Palmerston North as a vibrant location, supporting local initiatives such as the Manawatu Turbos and films".

"We want a proposal on how we're going to go forward. How are you going to market the Turbos to people in Timaru?" Mr Wilson said.

Chief executive Paddy Clifford said the money would not be spent until a proposal was agreed by councillors.

Mayor Jono Naylor agreed that public perception was the city's biggest enemy.

All we can say is this; you don't say!

XT woes continue

We sympathise with those who have AGAIN been affected by outages in Telecom's supposedly cutting-edge, world leading XT network.

We're not going to comment further, other than to say that each time Telecom has a failure, we're glad that our 20+ staff are all connected to us and to one another via Vodafone!

UPDATE: Heads have started to roll ...

Time for a bollocking John

The Dom-Post leads with the story of Housing Minister Phil Heatley embroiled in a row over his Ministerial credit card - read on:

At least one Government minister has been forced to pay back expenses wrongly billed to his taxpayer-funded credit card and others are scrambling to check their spending.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley will repay Ministerial Services today for the $70 cost of two bottles of wine that he bought for National Party members at AMI Stadium in Christchurch last year and billed to his ministerial credit card.

An embarrassed Mr Heatley admitted, after checking with officials following questions raised by The Dominion Post, that he should never have paid for the wine with his ministerial card.

It suggests officials have been rubberstamping ministerial expenses.

The wine purchase was one of hundreds of transactions by ministers revealed by the release of credit card details in response to an Official Information Act request.

Mr Heatley has also run foul of the rules for running up expenses on his card and later reimbursing Ministerial Services – a practice he acknowledged was against the rules, though he was not aware of that till yesterday.

Mr Heatley should know, as a Cabinet Minister that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for falling foul on it. We suspect that he will be getting the call from John Key today, and that he will be told to pull his head in; or should we say that we would be most disappointed if that was NOT the outcome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Young on Clark

There's a very interesting piece from Audrey Young on the Herald website at the moment. She reflects on Helen Clark breaking with convention by criticising the Government during her trip back to New Zealand last week. She opines:

Helen Clark broke with convention on her visit back to New Zealand by criticizing two aspects of Government policy, the prospect of mining on conservation land and Radio New Zealand being forced to live within its budget.

You'll never die wondering what she thinks, she was so fond of saying when she was prime minister. Happily that continues.

Most former PMs - and former deputies and finance ministers for that matter - are far more discreet and refuse to get involved in political debates of the day.

Audrey Young makes an interesting point. What complicates this is, or course, Helen Clark's new job. Is her criticism of the New Zealand Government coming from Helen Clark, or from Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator?

But there's more, and Young suggests that there might also be a whiff of hypocrisy in Clark's criticism - read on (our emphasis added):

It may be because she is a former Conservation Minister that Clark felt strongly enough to put the boot into the prospect of mining DOC land.

Before heading off her 60th birthday party at Chris Carter's place in Auckland, she told Paul Holmes on Q+A yesterday that "some things are more important than money."

The trouble with Clark' position is it is a case of do as she says, not as she did. Clark's Government was responsible for approving the Pike River Coal Mining under the Paparoa ranges in the DOC estate 50km from Greymouth.

In fact it was approved by Chris Carter, who was a tough Conservation Minister under Clark's close watch. Part of Carter's 2004 press statement says:

"This mine does represent an intrusion into an area of high conservation values and a decision on whether to allow it to go ahead has been a very difficult one to make because of this," Mr Carter said.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. And how sad it is that the Shadow Minister for Own Goals, Chris Carter is once again embroiled in an allegation of hypocrisy. Surely the time has come for Phil Goff to cast Carter adrift. But then again, as Helen Clark's birthday party was at Carter's residence, would that be a good career move for Goff?

The plot thickens ....

Phoenix rising

It was one of the saves of the year; right up there with Mark Paston's in the World Cup qualifier. And we reckon that Maaren Holl of the Dom-Post has got an award-wining photo to record Liam Reddy's save for posterity.

For those not in the know, the Wellington Phoenix is down to the last four in the Hyundai A-League. The team advanced via a gripping penalty shoot-out after the teams were locked at 1-all after extra time. And goalkeeper Liam Reddy was the star of the show, saving two of Perth's four attempts. Reddy's second save was the one pictured above, where he kicked the ball away whilst diving to his right.

Most people would say it was more good luck than good management, but we're not so sure. Take another look at the photograph; Reddy's eyes are fixed on the ball. He had already made on other brilliant save earlier in the match by thrusting out a leg; it seems to be his trademark.

Whatever, it was a great result in front of the Nix's best-ever crowd of over 24,000. The Phoenix go goes up against the Newcastle Jets at the Ring of Fire in a fortnight, and you can expect that yesterday's crowd will be back, plus a good few more. That's shaping up as a HUGE weekend for Wellington, with an ODI against the Australians on Saturday, and the football on the Sunday. Wellington now has a strong claim to be the sporting capital of New Zealand, a la Melbourne.

And football is on a roll. We were delighted to read yesterday that the All Whites will play the Socceroos in Melbourne on May 24th as they build up to South Africa; that should be another highlight of what is shaping up to be a magic year for sport.

UPDATE: It's just been pointed out to us via Facebook that the Black Caps' ODI against Australia is actually on Saturday 13th March, which is good news, as we might be able to go down to it! There IS a double-header this weekend; a T20 double on Friday with both the Black Caps and White Ferns playing Australia, and the Hurricanes are at home against the hapless Lions on Saturday before they hit the road for three matches in South Africa.

What's that sound?

Could it be the sound of knives being sharpened?

One News poll: National 54%; Labour 34%

3News poll: National 56%; Labour 29%

We all know that there's an "accord" for Phil Goff to remain as leader until the 2011 election, but accords are made to be broken, and we can't imagine Shane Jones waiting too much longer. Even the prospect of an increase to GST isn't helping the hapless Poor Phil.

We reckon he's goneburger; it's just a matter of when. That's a shame, because we reckon that Phil Goff is an awesome Leader of the Opposition; so good he should hold that role in perpetutity!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One shot at Glory

Yeah, yeah, we know; it's a take on the All Whites' campaign theme. But that's the reality that faces the Wellington Phoenix at the Ring of Fire at 5pm today. This is the second of two sudden-death playoff matches in the A-League this weekend.

We've been fans of the Phoenix since the team's inception three seasons ago. Making the play-offs is a great achievement, and finishing high enough to secure an additional home gate is a bonus. Matches between the Perth Glory and the 'Nix have historically favoured the home team, such is the gulf between Wellington and Perth both in time and climatically.

And the Ring of Fire is the Nix's fortress. They are unbeaten there in 18 matches stretching back to late 2008. There's talk around Wellington of a crowd approaching 30,000 this afternoon, and if that eventuates, it will be a white-hot atmosphere. We'd love to be there, but sadly we won't be today.

Maybe next week though. For today has dawned with more good news for the 'Nix. Newcastle beat Gold Coast on penalties last night, and because the 'Nix finished the regular season ahead of the Novocastrians, they will earn another home game next weekend if they win today. If the Wellington Phoenix can conjure up a victory today, that means that they will be one match away from the A-League Grand Final.

The Phoenix side has everything to play for today. We reckon there'll be two goals in it, and then we can start to plan a trip to Wellington next weekend!

Lundy loses

The Manawatu Standard reports that convicted double-murderer Mark Lundy has lost a legal fight. The series Beyond the Darklands is due to feature Lundy this week, and Lundy's lawyers have unsuccessfully tried to stop it going to air. We're rather glad about that. The story says:

Lawyers for convicted double-murderer Mark Lundy tried to get TVNZ to delay a programme about his life, but the broadcast is scheduled to go ahead as planned.

TVNZ confirmed yesterday that Lundy's lawyers requested a deferral because they were worried it could prejudice a possible retrial.

TVNZ declined the request, and the programme, Beyond the Darklands, is due to screen on Tuesday.

The prospect of a second appeal against Lundy's convictions for murdering his wife Christine, and daughter Amber, 7, was talked about by Lundy supporters and his legal team last year, but nothing eventuated.

We simply have two questions:

  • Who's paying for the lawyers, given that Lundy is serving a 20-year minimum sentence, and
  • Why did his lawyers not object to another documentary about the Lundy case which was favourable towards him? Didn't THAT have the potential to prejuduce his case too, but in a different way?

Christian Music Sunday - 21/2/2010

It's a Christian music masterclass today with this clip from the Dove Awards back in the day featuring Third Day, Cliff and Danielle Young from Caedmon's Call and Michael W Smith.

The first track, God of Wonders is a particular favourite of ours, and reminds us of just how miraculous the world about us is. The chorus goes:

God of wonders beyond our galaxy; You are holy, holy

That reminds us of an analogy we heard early in our walk with Jesus. We were told that there are around 100 million stars in OUR galaxy, and beyond that there are millions of other galaxies. Yet that aspect of the account of creation in Genesis is summed up in five words - "He also made the stars" - Genesis 1:16 - almost as though the creation of billions of stars was a mere afterthought!

Anyway, enough of our rambling; enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Emmerson strikes again

We are reminded this morning why Rod Emmerson of the Herald is our favourite cartoonist ...

The SPCA's view on Mankelow

This from Stuff:

The SPCA said it was disappointed at the sentence, with national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger describing Mankelow's actions as sick, heartless and utterly reprehensible.

We share the SPCA's dosappointment. It is hard to imagine a worse case of animal cruelty than this one, which was aggravated by Mankelow videoing the carnage. If you're squeamish, we suggest you decide whether or not to read what follows:

On September 27 last year, Mankelow found a box containing the five kittens.

With another person, he took the box and tipped the kittens out against the roots of a tree in a park.

One by one, his dog, known as PP, began to destroy the kittens, killing them by biting their bodies.

This was recorded on Mankelow's mobile phone, which was later found by a member of the public who, upon seeing the video, handed the device to the Gisborne SPCA.

Squeals of the agonised and terrified kittens, as they were put to death, were clearly heard on the recording, along with Mankelow's voice urging his dog to bite and kill them.

When two of the kittens managed to struggle a few feet away, Mankelow grabbed them and threw them back to be killed by PP.

The video clearly showed Mankelow's distinctively tattooed arm as he fed a kitten to his dog.

PP was later identified by SPCA inspectors, in part by the distinctive collars and very heavy chain to which he was attached.

Trained to viciously attack other animals, PP was unable to be re-homed by the SPCA and had to be euthanased.

Te Ahu Aaron Mankelow is, if you'll pardon the animal pun, one sick puppy. We have little doubt whatsoever that this is the last time that he will be before the courts. And we agree wholeheartedly with Robyn Kippenburger from the SPCA with her further comments in the Stuff article:

"We are disappointed that Mankelow has not been given a considerably tougher sentence for the horrendous offences he committed against five very young kittens," Ms Kippenberger said.

"Even though Mankelow has not received anything like the highest level of sentencing available to the courts under current legislation, this result clearly reinforces the need for higher upper sentencing limits in animal cruelty cases.

"These are provided for in the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which began its first reading in Parliament last night.

"Our hope is that MPs will take note of what has happened in this case and ensure that much tougher sentences are made possible."

Amen to that! In the meantime, we urge the Crown to appeal against the brevity of Mankelow's joke sentence.

What to do with Burton

How do you punish someone like Graeme Burton? He's already serving a sentence of Preventative Detention with a long non-parole period, and in reality, ought never be released from prison while he is drawing breath.

That was the dilemma facing Justice Tony Randerson yesterday when he sentenced Burton for the attempted murder of a fellow prison inmate. He imposed another sentence of Preventative Detention, with a ten-year non-parole period. That, of course is meaningless, as Burton is not elegible for parole until 2033 because of his past deeds. You can read an account of the sentencing here, together with rare footage from prison CCTV of Burton stalking his victim.

Meanwhile, WhaleOil has a rather innovative suggestion; take the $10,000 bionic leg which ACC provided at your expense and mine. It might not stop this human wrecking machine, but it would surely slow him down!

Another bizarre name supression

The Herald reports that a 16-year-old youth has been found guilty of the murder of Libby Templeman. He can't be named however; Justice Raynor Asher suppressed his name until midday today - here's why:

The identity of the boy, who was 14 at the time of the killing, will be revealed today. Name suppression was extended until midday, so his parents can tell their youngest son.

What? Has the "youngest son" not noticed a bit of tension in the family? Did the "youngest son" not notice when his brother was arrested. Has the "youngest son" not wondered why his parents and brother have been going to the High Court in Whangarei every day for the last fortnight?

There have been some dreadful name suppression decisions in the last few months, but for its bizarre nature, this one takes the biscuit! Ah well; it's only 4 hours and 25 minutes as we type these words, and we can all know who the coward was who took the life of a vivacious young woman because he was afraid that she was going to report him to the Police.

We should all be deeply concerned by the Libby Templeman murder. That a then-14-year-old could take a life for such a trivial reason is chilling.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with Libby's family, spared the ordeal of another trial which looked a distinct prospect yesterday afternoon when the jury was deadlocked. May they get some peace knowing that justice has been done, even if it has not yet been seen to be done.

UPDATE: The suppression order lapsed 11 minutes ago, and the murderer has been named.

Friday, February 19, 2010


We've just heard on the radio news that Te Ahu Mankelow has been sentenced. He's the scumbag who got his jollies by feeding live kitten to his pitbull, and who videoed the resultant carnage. We blogged about him yesterday.

So, what was the sentence? SEVEN lousy months in prison, that's what! We'd like to say what we REALLY think about this sentence, but we'll bite our tongue. Having been on the receiving end of animal cruelty this week, we're pretty hot on this issue. The title of the thread might give you a clue though.

40 days per kitten .... we are completely and utterly flabbergasted.

Cleaning up hypocrisy

So the Labour Party is incensed that cleaners at Parliament have been offered a very small pay rise by their employer, Spotless Services. In fact the Labour Party is so incensed that Darien Fenton (formerly of our old friends, the Service and Food Workers Union) has written to Mr Speaker to complain. She's blogged about it at Red Alert.

Have a look at the comments though; a commenter by the name of BikerKiwi has raised a very salient point:

bikerkiwi says:

Simple question – how much were they being paid 15 months ago when you guys were in charge?

Didn’t seem like much of an issue to you at the time obviously.

Indeed. We've placed the Red Alert thread into our Hypocrisy-Watch file, and will be watching closely for Darien Fenton's reply to BikerKiwi's excellent question. Isn't it so much easier to have all the answers from the Opposition benches, when you don't have to fund them?

This Sporting Life - 19/2/2010

Well we never; it looks as though we might have a cricket test victory to report on later today. Oh, that's right; it's Bangladesh we're playing!! It doesn't fill us with confidence ahead of the visit by the Australians, but we're eternal optimists...

We will confess watching a couple of Super 14 games last weekend (recorded), and whilst the standard of rugby wasn't bad for the first game of the season, we were most impressed with the crowd numbers at the two New Zealand games. We'll be hoping that the Hurricanes can prevail tomorrow night, before Westpac Stadium is transformed into the Ring of Fire for the Phoenix's clash with Perth Glory on Sunday. We'll blog more on the 'Nix game over the weekend; it merits its own thread.

As for us, it's back into petrolhead mode this weekend. Wanganui's Oceanview Speedway plays host to the biggest event on the speedway calendar in terms of participation. More than 160 cars are in the River City to partake in the New Zealand Stockcar Championships, and we'll be there! Drivers will try to qualify for the finals tonight, but with only five cars making it through from each of the 27-car groups, even making it through to the champinship races tomorrow night will be a major achievement. There's going to be some great races, and it wouldn't be stockcar racing without some carnage as well!!

So what's going to spin YOUR wheels this weekend?

That's tough Mumsy

From the Sour Grapes department - this from today's Herald:

A 50-year-old Napier grandmother known as "Mumsy" to boyracers says her disqualification from driving for six months after being caught doing a burnout is "over the top".

Lee Smith, of Napier, pleaded guilty in the Napier District Court to one charge of sustained loss of traction.

And she said the 9m smoking burnout had reflected badly on her "mates" in the boyracer scene.

"I let a lot of people down, including the boyracer scene, and I apologise to them. It gets a bad enough rap without me doing something stupid as well."

Sheesh; as if a 50-year-old boyracer granny isn't bad enough, she even talks like one. Check this out as she attempts to justify her behaviour:

Smith told Hawke's Bay Today she was "letting off steam" after finding out about a car crash near Meeanee which involved her friends.

"As I took off, I felt it going down and, to my detriment, I did not stop it and I've driven a car long enough to know what to do."

We presume that when she says "I felt it going down" she means that she felt the car losing traction. She had a choice then, and she made the wrong one. Instead of backing off, she kept the power on, doubtless to the delight of her "mates".

Mumsy needs to grow up. Judge Tony Adeane, the judge who locks up taggers has earned further kudos from this blog for hitting Mumsy where it hurts. She should, in the language spoken by her boyracer friends "suck it up" and stop moaning.

To the 'Nix - you're NOT fired!

The Wellington Phoenix has received a real fillip on the eve of its A-League playoff against the Perth Glory on Sunday. The Dom-Post reports that the club's owner Terry Serepisos has pledged his continued support - read on:

Wellington Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos has revealed plans to bankroll the club for the next decade, despite the recession forcing him to scale back his property ventures.

As the Phoenix prepare for a first A-League finals appearance by a New Zealand team on Sunday, the millionaire tycoon and host of The Apprentice NZ has pledged to fund the club for another 10 years.

Although the team was losing him $1 million a year, it was his way of giving back to the community, he said.

"There's no use earning a whole lot of money and not doing anything with it."

That's fantastic news for the 'Nix, and for its legion of fans in Wellington and beyond. We do wonder however whether Serepisos will be as community-minded over the next few weeks as he faces off with the contestants in the boardroom!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black Caps set a world record

Can you believe it? The Black Caps have set a new world record in the test match against Bangladesh this afternoon. They are the first team in the long and glorious histroy of test cricket to lose their numbers one, two and three batsmen to run-outs!

It reminds us of a comment attributed to former England batsman Derek Randall a while back. Nicknamed "Arkle" because of his speed in the field, Randall was a dreadful runner between the wickets. One match he ran out several of his team-mates whilst on his way to a century. Knowing that he was in for a grilling when he got back to the dressing room, Randall was ready. "Sorry fellas" he is reported to have said. "I've been batting like Wally Hammond and calling like Charlie Chaplin!". Priceless.

Tiger comes out

We see that Tiger (Woods; not Mallard) will come out of hiding this weekend. Stuff reports:

Tiger Woods will end nearly three months of silence on Saturday (NZ time) when he speaks to the media for the first time about his middle-of-the-night accident that sparked shocking revelations about his infidelity.

Woods will talk to a small group of reporters at 7am Saturday (NZ time) from the clubhouse of the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, home of the PGA Tour.

"This is all about the next step," Mark Steinberg, his agent, told The Associated Press. "He's looking forward to it."

Steinberg said he would speak to a "small group of friends, colleagues and close associates" about his past and what he plans next, along with apologising for his behaviour.

He said three wire services would be invited, and he was asking the Golf Writers Association of America to pick a small group of reporters to serve as a pool. Steinberg said there would be one pool camera, but it would be available live via satellite.

It will be interesting to see what he has to say to the assembled media, especially in light of the porkies that he told Murray Deaker just days before the story of him paying green fees to play other courses broke. But Woods being Woods, as ever, the timing of his public apology is telling - read this:

The news conference will be held during the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, and is sure to steal attention away from the first big event of the year. Accenture was the first sponsor to drop Woods when he became embroiled in a sex scandal.

"It was a matter of timing," Steinberg said.

When asked if the news conference could have waited until after Accenture's tournament, he replied, "No."

Whatever Mark, whatever. Perhaps that could be better expressed as a Tui billboard:

Tiger Woods doesn't hold a grudge; Yeah right!