Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Has Len been harpooned?

WhaleOil has a very interesting post about Supercity mayoral aspirant Len Brown; very interesting indeed. He blogs:

I saw this arti­cle yes­ter­day about Celia Wade-Brown cam­paign­ing using inter­nal coun­cil email and then all of a sud­den I got sent more than a few copies of a Len Brown email that has been sent to staff at Manukau City Council.

The truly creepy thing about this email from the Brown cam­paign is that it was sent to inter­nal email addresses, and it was sent with embed­ded links that if you check the code are hard-coded to the indi­vid­ual receiv­ing it so that the mere act of click­ing on a link can iden­tify you to the Brown cam­paign team.

Not only is he solic­it­ing dona­tions from staff of Manukau City but he is also encour­ag­ing them to join the cam­paign and it is all being tracked in some sort of big brother creepy way.

The peo­ple that have received this and for­warded to me all say that they have never joined any mail­ing list for Len Brown. The code of the email shows clearly that this email was sent inter­nally, osten­si­bly from the Mayor’s office. OIA requests of the Exchange Server logs will show this.

There is some­thing sin­is­ter when a Mayor uses his own council’s resources for his own ends, but then again we have seen Len Brown do this before with the credit cards. One thing for sure, is it looks like Len has run out of his big devel­op­ers money and now needs to start pick­ing the pock­ets of Manukau City staff.

Bot­tom line is that Len Brown has used coun­cil pro­vided resources to cam­paign amongst coun­cil staff and thereby politi­cized the neu­tral hard work­ing staff of Manukau City.

DPF has also blogged about this at Kiwiblog, and received a very, very interesting comment just an hour or so ago - check this out (our emphasis added):

  1. Owen McShane (1,037) Says:
    August 31st, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I am reasonably confident that this breaches the Auditor General’s guidelines for behaviour of incumbent politicians during an election campaign period.

    Essentially the incumbents cannot use the resources of council in any way to further their campaign. Wellington Mayoral Candidate got into trouble just for sending email messages to staff. The Dom Post reported:

    Auditor-general guidelines for managing public communications before elections say local authorities must not promote, nor be perceived to promote, the re-election prospects of a sitting member.

    Members should not be permitted to use council communications facilities such as email for political or re-election purposes, as this was “unacceptable and possibly unlawful”.

    Council protocols say no council resources, including email, should be used for campaigning purposes. “Staff must not send or forward emails, either internally or externally, which seek support for a particular candidate.”

    Assistant Auditor-General Bruce Robertson said the guidelines helped ensure sitting members did not gain an unfair advantage over other candidates, but carried no legal weight.

    “The key issue here is it’s about political credibility. It’s potential political embarrassment, which is not a good thing in the middle of a political fight for success at the polls.”

There would seem to be a prima facie case against Len Brown here for breaching campaigning rules. Brown is a lawyer; he should know better than anyone how to follow the law, not to break it.

Following on from the debacle over Brown's infamous dinner at Volare, where he STILL refuses to disclose who he dined with, we would suggest that Len Brown's political credibility is pretty low tonight.Let's hope that we are not treated to another face-slapper once he realises the predicament that he has got himself into.

Phillip Bruce Bannan

Remember the name, and be grateful that it wasn't suppressed this morning.

Now we know that we should apply the presumption of innocence to Phillip Bruce Bannan, but the facts in this case as reported thus far are pretty clear. We will be interested to see just how serious the "more serious charges" that the police are considering are.

We'd go for this one; section 171 of the Crimes Act 1961:

  • Except as provided in section 178, culpable homicide not amounting to murder is manslaughter.

Two counts of manslaughter would give a sentencing judge plenty of options as per the following:

Punishment of manslaughter
  • (1) Every one who commits manslaughter is liable to imprisonment for life.

We're not normally vengeful people, but something about this case has struck a chord with us. We hope that the right charges are laid against Bannan, and that upon conviction, a sentence is passed which reflects the gravity of his bad choices and the trauma which they have caused.

In receivership

It's no surprise that South Canterbury Finance has called in the receivers - the Herald reports:

South Canterbury Finance says it is going into receivership, making it New Zealand's largest finance company failure.

It has just made an announcement to the NZX which reads:

South Canterbury Finance Limited announced today that it has been unable to complete a recapitalisation and restructure.

As a result, the Company would have been unable to certify to Trustees Executors Limited, in accordance with the terms of its debenture trust deed with Trustees Executors Limited, that it was compliant with various financial covenants under the debenture trust deed for the financial year ended 30 June 2010.

Accordingly, South Canterbury Finance Limited has requested Trustees Executors Limited to appoint a receiver in respect of the whole of its undertaking and assets, and Trustees Executors Limited has done so.

A further announcement will be made by the Company in due course.

This news is unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone, even financial illiterates such as ourselves. Whilst today's decision is generally unrelated to the SFO investigation of SCF founder Allan Hubbard, and the placing of other of his companies into statutory management, links will inevitably be made.

FWIW we don't for one moment believe that Hubbard is of the same ilk as the likes of Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson, we believe that there have been some serious errors of judgment and management prectice. This saga is going to be in the headlines for some time to come, and by-and-large, we'll let those who are more "in the know" make the informed comment.

Ban them!

The chorus is growing to ban the Pakistani cricketers involved in match-fixing, and it may have an effect here. Jonathan Millmow from the Dom-Post adds his voice to the chorus - he opines:

No-one will ever know the full story of what the Pakistanis get up to. Corruption seems to run deep and, if the ringleader gets caught, the next crook has been groomed.

The Pakistan cheating machine got cocky and careless at Lord's and needs to be straightened out by, first the police, then the International Cricket Council.''

As callous as it sounds, the four players – Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – have to be banned for life. Nothing less can be contemplated, as sad as that may seem for a teenager like Aamer. He has been exploited by a callous and greedy bunch that preyed upon his talent.

Aamer has little hope. The evidence is on tape – he bowled as required a no ball on the first ball of the third over. The team punishment is less straightforward, but 12 months in the wilderness should be a starting point, which tellingly takes in the World Cup.

We agree with Millmow here. Although banning Pakistan from international cricket would be a huge step, especially with the ICC's showpiece, the World Cup just around the corner, it is a necessary one. The actions of a significant number of Pakistani cricketers have brought the sport into disrepute.

We are saddened somewhat that such a promising player as Mohammed Aamer has been caught up in this get-rich-quick scheme. Doubtless there has been pressure bought to bear on the young man by older players keen to see the cheating gravy train roll on. But that in itself is no excuse.

The ICC is talking tough, but if any of the allegations are proven, it must act decisively and strongly, and throw the cheats out of the game. Cricket has far too proud a history to allow these low-rent scum to prosper.

Local democracy

Over at Kiwiblog, DPF reported yesterday that TVNZ's deputy political editor Fran Mold has resigned from TVNZ. Whilst we will shed no tears at her departure, it's her destination that raises questions.

Mold is reported to be being lined up to replace Kris Faafoi, another ex-TVNZ politicial "journalist" as Phil Goff's chief press secretary. Faafoi has recently confirmed that he will contest the Labour nomination in the safe Mana seat when Winnie Laban confirms her retirement.

This raises an interesting question; how democratic are Labour's candidate selection? Last year we saw David Shearer parachuted in from afar to win the nomination over a strong local field. Shearer of course is a close personal friend of Phil Goff. Now it would appear that Kris Faafoi has been annointed by the leader as the candidate of choice for Mana, hence the provisional appointment of a replacement presser.

That doesn't bode well for any long-serving member of the Labour Party with political ambitions, does it. Sheesh, until the last election, Kris Faafoi was a "neutral" political journalist (the inverted commas around "neutral" should give a clue to where we're coming from!); now he seems poised to win selection in one of Labour's few safe seats giving him a job for life, thanks to the ability of head office to dictate candidate selection. We reckon that local democracy is an alien concept to the Labour Party.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not long enough ...

So the killer of Sgt Don Wilkinson has been sentenced to life with a minimum non-prole period of just fifteen years - the Herald reports:

The man who murdered undercover police officer Sergeant Don Wilkinson has been jailed for at least fifteen years.

On June 12 a jury found John Skinner guilty of murdering Sergeant Wilkinson during a covert police operation in September 2008.

Skinner was under police surveillance as a suspected P manufacturer and shot Sergeant Wilkinson with a powerful air rifle after catching him trying to install a tracking device on his Ford Explorer.

Skinner was also found guilty of attempting to murder another officer and of assault with a firearm.

Co-accused Iain Clegg was found not guilty of murder and attempted murder but guilty of manslaughter.

In the High Court at Auckland today, Justice Geoffrey Venning sentenced Skinner to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of fifteen years for Sgt Wilkinson's murder.

Additionally he was jailed for 10 years the attempted murder of the other officer and one year for assault with a firearm, with those terms to be served concurrently.

Justice Geoffrey Venning has been exceptionally charitable to Skinner and Clegg in our always-humble opinion. This was a cold-blooded execution of a police officer in the course of his duties. Surely, this was a case when not only the book should have been thrown at Skinner, but the bookshelf as well.

We reckon that the justice sustem has failed Sgt Don Wilkinson today. We hope that the Crown is considering an appeal against the leniency of this sentence.

Light blogging this morning

We're on the road this morning, so blogging will be, of necessity, light.

We'll be back at our desk some time this afternoon, when normal blogging will resume.

UPDATE: And now we're home; normal transmission will resume shortly ...

The Monday Quote - 30/8/2010

Our Monday quotes are normally short, to the point and pithy. Today's offering is a bit longer than usual, but because it touches on an issue that we feel strongly about, we've cut the author some slack.

So here's today's Monday Quote, courtesy of Michael Laws in yesterday's Sunday Star-Times:

Police chase policy is relatively simple. If there is a palpable danger to life, then they are to abandon the chase. It will be for the suitable authorities to determine whether that policy was applied in this particular case.

But the wider issue remains. Is the existing policy actually encouraging miscreants to flee?

The individual at the heart of this tragedy probably assumed, and rightly, that driving recklessly through red lights in downtown Christchurch would be too risky for any following police. He gambled and two other people lost.

And yet the wonder is that this kind of tragedy does not happen more often. It soon will. We have bred a group of feral anti-socials who regard reckless endangerment, and outwitting the police, as their especial entertainment. They will attempt to evade capture irrespective of any policy. It's part of the fun.

In a couple of months the public will be introduced to this moron as he stands in the dock facing charges. He will be clean-shaven, wearing a clean shirt and feigning contrition. He may go to prison, he may not. The point is, surely, that he should.

But even if he ends up as the plaything of Bubba, his incarceration will be minor compared to the couple who had their lives so carelessly scrubbed.

At which point, yet again, our society loses a little more faith in the justice system. Indeed the term seems oxymoronic – because justice is for this 20-something to be banged up forever for killing a couple.

We could not agree more strongly.

All eyes on Albany

Albany is going to be the ward to watch in the Auckland Supercity electorate, for obvious reasons, as the Herald notes:

"Meet the Albany Candidates" evenings will be lively in halls from Browns Bay to Orewa as old foes Cameron Slater and mayoral candidate Andrew Williams trade verbal blows.

"I've five invitations so far and I'll hold him to account," Mr Slater said about Mr Williams, a regular target of his Whale Oil blog.

Mr Williams, who has been North Shore Mayor for three years and wants to be first mayor of the Auckland Council, is nominated for Albany ward.

Mr Slater said it was the mayor's insurance policy.

Entertainment value alone counts for few votes from conservative residents of a ward which is a composite of the fastest growing parts of Rodney, Waitakere and North Shore.

"A sideshow is not needed when we face serious issues," said Linda Cooper, a Waitakere City councillor for six years.

We agree with Linda Cooper. The last thing that Albany needs is a sideshow. That's why the voters of Albany and other parts of the North Shore City must be wondering just what they unleashed when they installed Andrew Williams as mayor three years ago.

Vote Slater in Albany!!

Updated - Fixed

What the heck is going on at Lord's? We take our eyes off the sporting world for 24 hours, and look what happens; the Pakistani's are once again accused of match-fixing. Cricinfo reports:

The fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's is at the centre of a police investigation into spot-fixing following the arrest of a 35-year-old man, Mazher Majeed, who was allegedly caught claiming to have bribed Pakistan's bowlers to bowl no-balls on demand.

According to a report in The News of the World, Majeed accepted £150,000 to arrange a fix involving Pakistan's new-ball bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, whom he allegedly asked to bowl no-balls at specific moments of the match. The paper also alleges that the team captain, Salman Butt, and the wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal, are involved, along with three other unnamed cricketers.

Cricinfo understands that the players named were questioned about sums of money found in the rooms, though it is thought that those were made up of the daily allowances players are given while on tour. The man arrested, Majeed, is believed to have contacts with the team though until now it was assumed he was acting as an agent for players, helping them secure sponsorship and kit contracts.

Officials from the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit are currently flying in from Dubai, and in a statement, the ICC confirmed that the allegations were being taken seriously.

And why, we wonder, is the common denominator in match-fixing allegations the Pakistani cricket team? The more things change, the more they stay the same ...

UPDATE: Cricinfo is the place to get all the latest information on this scandal, as Pakistan crashes to its worst ever test match defeat in very dodgy circumstances.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Desperate times ...

Desperate times call for desperate remedies, so they say, but we're not sure that we could ever be THIS desperate:

A Kazakh man cut off his penis at Madrid's Barajas airport to avoid being extradited home and was taken to hospital in a serious condition, Spanish media reported.

The 52-year-old man had finished serving a five-year prison sentence in Spain for a violent crime and was due to be extradited back to Kazakhstan.

Despite being escorted by several police officers, the man was able to slip a knife out of his clothing and sever his penis.

The man was admitted to a Madrid hospital and was still in a serious condition.

It brings tears to our eyes just thinking of it!!

Like minds ...

It's good to see Kerre Woodham thinking along the same lines that we did 48 hours ago:

The headline on the front page of the New Zealand Herald screamed: TWO KILLED IN POLICE CHASE.

A leading news website had: Fatal police chase.

And that sticks in my craw. How about: Two killed by criminal driver? Two dead after failure to stop?

I suppose to the poor grieving families of the couple who were killed, the headlines mean nothing.

To me, though, it seems to suggest that the police were in the wrong and not the disqualified driver who failed to stop when police ordered him to, who ran a red light and who has the blood of two innocent people on his hands.

I'm sick and tired of seeing police having to jump through hoops to justify the actions they take in respect of stopping dangerous drivers.

We couldn't agree more. In the meantime we wonder how our Christchurch "friend" i adjusting to the fact that he's not going to be driving anywhere for some time, and that the "four grey walls that surround me" are going to be his home sometime soon ...

Christian Music Sunday - 29/8/2010

Parachute Festivall 2011 is shaping up to be an awesome event, especially for those like us who love to worship. We mentioned a few weeks ago that Chris Tomlin was confirmed, and now we see that Brenton Brown will be here as well. We'll let the Prachute Festival website do the introductions:

Worship songwriter Brenton Brown has lived a rather multi-cultural life. After growing up in South Africa, he studied at England’s Oxford University, and now lives in Malibu, California. Brown explains, “I was studying politics and law in Cape Town. After being confronted by the power of the gospel at a Bible study, I threw my lot in with a vibrant, multicultural church on campus while I continued to study.” After finishing his degree, Brown moved to England to attend Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, which is where he became involved with the Vineyard worship movement.

Brenton Brown was then appointed Worship Pastor for Oxford’s local Vineyard Church, and recorded three Vineyard albums in that time. Since then, he has released three solo worship albums with Survivor Records: EVERLASTING GOD, BECAUSE OF YOUR LOVE and ADORATION. His track ‘Everlasting God’ has been picked up by churches around the globe, and won Brown an ASCAP (American Society of Composers) Award for being one of the most performed songs in the U.S. during 2007. The song has also been recorded by worship artists Lincoln Brewster and Chris Tomlin.

Cool! We've played and sung a number of Brenton Brown's songs during the time that we've led worship, and this is one of the ones that really speaks to us:

Roll on January 2011!

The Dom-Post's verdict on Broad

We read this Dom-Post editorial on Friday, but we hadn't had the chance to post anything about it until today. But we reckon that the Dom-Post's leader writer has it spot on with this:

When Police Commissioner Howard Broad was appointed in 2006, he said he wanted to restore public confidence in his department. He has been a big disappointment. He has proven – again – that his oversight is suspect. It is as well that he retires next year.

This week, The Dominion Post reported that one of his staff, Detective Inspector Dave Archibald, is the new head of the Royal New Zealand Police College's investigation and intelligence school. But this is a policeman disciplined in 2005 for accessing the police computer during the sex trial of former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, and two others. He sought the information to pass on to a private investigator working for Shipton, who, like Schollum, was convicted of pack rape. Yet this man is trusted to train new coppers?

The commissioner would have us – and Police Minister Judith Collins – believe that he delegated all responsibility for appointing Mr Archibald to other senior staff. Perhaps he is now so hands-off a manager as he winds down to retirement that he is happy to leave such important appointments to minions. Regardless, the buck stops with him.

Whatever the situation, Mr Broad has failed to achieve what he set out to do when he became commissioner. To restore public confidence, he had to change an organisational culture that regarded the practice of Bay of Plenty coppers preying on young women as something to be ignored. The Archibald appointment suggests that culture remains in place.

We agree entirely with this view. Howard Broad's leadership of the New Zealand Police has not been a great success, and we will shed no tears when his term in office expires. Judith Collins was absolutely right to send a strong message to Broad that his chances of reappointment were minute.

And the Dom-Post suggests that the next Police Commissioner should come from outside the ranks - read on:

But given the inward-looking, blokey culture that Mr Broad has singularly failed to root out, the Government should look beyond the lower ranks for the country's new top cop. New Zealand last had a civilian commissioner 50 years ago when the then government sought to shed sunlight into policing's dark corners. If the Government can find someone with courage – the police administration is a formidable beast – an outside appointment for a five-year term is worth contemplating.

Once again, we concur with this opinion. Whilst we have the utmost respect for the copper on the beat who is daily exposed to the worst aspects of our society, we have little confidence in the top brass. The leader writer has noted that Rob Pope, Broad's deputy has baggage of his own in the form of criticism of the Scott Watson enquiry which Pope led. Perhaps it IS time for a new broom to be appointed to lead a proud NZ Police force and to restore some of the mana which has been lost in the Broad years and those which preceded.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Well done Warriors!

What a terrific performance by the mighty Vodofone Warriors last night as the sliced and diced the once-mighty Brisbane Broncos. The 36-4 victory was one of the best Warriors performances of the season, at least since they demolished the same side in Brisbane in March.

This was not supposed to be the Year of the Warrior. A number of so-called experts from the other side of the ditch will have egg on their faces after pre-season predictions as the Herald reminds us:

They were supposed to finish stone cold motherless last, but the Warriors last night stormed into the NRL finals with a clinical demolition of the Brisbane Broncos.

The home win at Mt Smart lifted the Warriors above the Roosters and Manly into fifth place and put a huge dent in the Broncos' hopes of extending their 18-season unbroken stretch as a finals team.

They now have to regroup before a must-win clash against Canberra next weekend.

But the Warriors will be eyeing their final-round trip to Parramatta with some enthusiasm.

A win in that contest probably won't be enough to push them into the top four, but it would give them some serious momentum for the finals.

On last night's evidence, not many teams will be queuing up for a week-one finals match against the Warriors side that pundit Phil Gould tipped to come "last, last, last".

Indeed; from wooden-spooners to genuine contenders, the Warriors have overcome all sorts of obstacles this season. Steve Price's last year in the NRL came to nowt, Wade McKinnon left the club mid-season, and an horrific injury toll has kept Doc Mayhew working overtime. But there have been some great positives too; Louis Brown has been a revelation, Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei has been a try-scoring machine, the halves combination of Brett Seymour and James Maloney has been very handy when both have been fit, and Lance Hohaia, the last survivor of the 2002 Grand Final team continues to defy Father Time. Hohaia's second try last night was a brilliant individual effort.

And we agree with Steve Deane; no-one would want to face the Warriors in a must-win first-up finals match, especially if Michael Luck's leg heals in time. A win over the Eels, whose finals chances ended last night would be a great tonic heading into the business end of the season.

A question on innocence...

The Herald reports:

A 70-year-old pharmacist jailed this week for his role in supplying gangs with pseudoephedrine still insists he is innocent.

Speaking exclusively to the Weekend Herald, Samuel Ross Pulman said he believed he was part of an undercover operation, helping the police to catch P manufacturers by selling the restricted medicine.

The grandfather of six also maintains he made no money from the sales. "I've never taken a cent. I'm not prepared to give in. I want to remain tall, to tell the truth."

But Pulman's explanation was rejected by Justice Edwin Wylie, who said in July that the veteran Rotarian and youth centre owner did not strike him as an honest witness.

Yesterday, in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Wylie sentenced Pulman to five years and eight months in jail.

So here's our question; if Samuel Ross Pulman is indeed innocent of supplying pseudoephedrene to P cooks, why did he plead guilty? That doesn't seem to be the action of an "innocent" man.

Picture of a "moron"

The Press does the world a service. This is the man who survived a fatal car accident in Christchurch on Thursday night.

Under the headline Moron's act of devastation, a very interesting story follows on the vexed issue of lawbreakers who refuse to stop for the police. This story is mandatory reading for anyone interested in this issue. It's too lengthy for us to reproduce in its entirety, but we couldn't agree more with this bit:

A review in July found there was insufficient evidence to support banning pursuits, as this was unlikely to improve or guarantee public safety.

The latest deaths prompted Police Minister Judith Collins to warn motorists not to flee police: "The message is don't run. It is not worth it."

Tougher penalties had been introduced, and while education was also needed, it often had little effect. "It's difficult to educate them [fleeing drivers] because, frankly, they're ... utter morons, and they leave this utter devastation in their wake."

Inspector Malcolm Johnston of Christchurch said the number of drivers fleeing police had risen alarmingly in the past decade.

Although a large part of the public backed the police, there had been a shift in the behaviour of some people who believed they were entitled to run. "I think we just need to get the pendulum swinging back and stop deflecting the blame from where it should be rightfully and squarely put on, which is the shoulders of these fleeing drivers."

Mr Johnston said the officers involved in Thursday's accident were devastated. "The accident happened right in front of their eyes. We join the police to make a difference, we really do, and to have a tragedy like this happen in front of them, you know, I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

Thank you to Judith Collins for calling it as so many New Zealanders are thinking; those who run from the police are indeed "utter morons", and deserve to be condemned. The gentleman sitting in the ambulance above is, in our humble opinion, right at the top of the Moron Scale. We wonder if the enormity of his stupidity is starting to sink in yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Are Herald journo's reading blogs?

We ask that question in relation to our blog-post this morning on the death of two innocent motorists in Christchurch overnight.

When we blogged at the obscene hour of 5.24am, the Herald's online headline read:

Two dead in police pursuit crash in Christchurch

Now it's changed. At this moment, the Herald's online headline reads:

Two killed in collision with car fleeing police

That's a huge improvement. We doubt that the headline has changed as a result of our blogging, but who knows; it may have. There has been no shortage of comment around the blogosphere and social media this morning on this case, and a good prortion of it criticises the media for the use of language that directly or indirectly infers that the police are responsible for this tragedy.

So whatever prompted the Herald to change its headline, we applaud them. Their current offering is factual, and points the finger in the right direction.

Short memories

Over at The Standard, they're frothing at the mouth at the news today that ACT pushed to extend to 90-day work trial legislation from businesses employing 50 staff or less to all businesses. Michael Foxglove says:

ACT is far right party that gained a mere 3% of the vote. Yet they now appears to be in firm control of government policy.

How short their memories are, and how little they understand MMP. Have they forgotten the influence that Jim Anderton of the New Labour Party, the Alliance and the Jim Anderton's Progressive Party was able to leverage under MMP? Have they forgotten Kiwibank?

Still, would we expect The Standard to let the facts get in the way of a good story? Do we even need to answer that??!!

This Sporting Life - 27/8/2010

With the All Blacks having a couple of weeks off having wrapped up the Tri-Nations, most of our sporting itches will be scratched tonight.

First-up, the mighty Vodafone Warriors (7th) go head-to-head with the Brisbane Broncos (8th) at Mt Smart tonight. Reports suggest that the full house signs will be out for what is a virtual semi-final. It's certainly a must-win for the Darren Lockyer-less Broncos who trail the Warriors by two points, whilst the Warriors will ensure September football if they win tonight. It should be a ripper, and we'll tip the Warriors to sneak home.

Straight after that, the equally-mighty Wellington Phoenix has its first road-trip of the season taking on the Roar in Brisbane. The 'Nix players have shown enough in the first two matches of the A-League season to suggest that 2009-10 was no fluke, and they currently sit in 4th position on the table, ahead of the Roar on goal difference. But both sides have a match in hand over the teams ahead of them, and a win to either side would see them move towards the top of the ladder.

Right; that's Friday night taken care of! There's still a full round of ITM Cup rugby to get excited about, and more importantly, the Heartland Championship kicks off this weekend, with defending Meads Cup champions Wanganui hosting South Canterbury. This is REAL rugby, with no froth and bubbles. The skills on display might not be as good as in the professional version of the game, but there's no doubting the passion and desire from blokes who have to work as well as playing footy!

Elsewhere the English Premier League enters week three with the normal suspects already edging up the table, whilst Tiger Woods seems to have shaken off his divorce and the dent to his bank balance; he's tied for the lead midway through the first round of the Barclays, the first Fed-Ex Cup playoff event after firing his best round of the year, a six-under 65! We'll be keeping an eye on the Tiger this weekend.

Have we missed anything? You'll let us know, no doubt. In the meantime, the floor is yours ...

The police didn't do it

There's been another tragedy in Christchurch overnight with an elderly couple killed. Their car was struck by an unlicenced, unregistered car driven through a red light by a driver fleeing the police. Of course, both major news sources paint a different picture; the Herald's headline reads
Two dead in police pursuit crash in Christchurch, whilst Stuff says Two dead after police chase.

We get sick of this. The police did NOT cause these deaths, but they will inevitably be blamed for having dared to chase
the car driven by a disqualified driver who is reported as being "well known to Christchurch police". The driver failed to stop for police who clocked him doing 89km in a 50km zone.

We agree 100% with Christchurch police area commander Malcolm Johnston who is quoted thus in the Herald:

"Blame for this tragedy lies entirely with this driver. He was signalled to stop and he should have stopped." Mr Johnston said he had spoken with the officers involved and they were devastated.

Mr Johnston nails it. Police are sworn to uphold the law; conversely the driver involved in this incident, a disqualified driver, has made a number of conscious decisions to break the law. It's not hard to determine where the REAL blame for this senseless loss of life lies.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the interview with Malcom Johnston on Breakfast this morning; our sympathies go out to the families of the victims of this act of stupidity, and to the police officers who had to witness it, powerless to stop it happening - arohanui.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Slam dunk!

Jevan Goulter and his rag-tag band of supporters/trouble-makers ought to have got a message today; don't mess with Michael Laws. We blogged earlier in the day about at the trouble at t'mill; this afternoon Laws has retaken the offensive. He's issued a statement which begins:

26 August 2010




Mayor Laws: There is campaign of harassment against my family, friends

In all my 25 years of local and national political experience, I have not come across such a despicable, dirty and probably illegal smear campaign - as that currently being practised against myself, my family and my friends.

It has become so vicious and so low that my five year old daughter has been drawn into the political stunts and games of these people.

It has also seen one of the culprits boast publicly on her Facebook site that she has illegally hacked my e-mail account - a boast made on 1 August (evidence enclosed).

It has seen another of the culprits offer for sale, to a newspaper, the private texts and e-mails between myself and an Auckland lady (evidence enclosed).

Yesterday, I laid an official complaint with the Police against two of those persons involved - Hamish Jevan Goulter and Barbara Ann Osborne. The details of that complaint are attached to this statement, along with the verifying evidence.

Regular readers of Keeping Stock will understand that we are not blind followers of Michael Laws, and in fact Keeping Stock campaigned against his bid for a second term as Mayor of Wanganui. We have however come to respect some of his decisions, and we wholeheartedly supported the move to ban gang patches in Wanganui, where the mayor and the local MP, Chester Borrows worked collaboratively to achieve a local solution. In all probability, we would have voted for Laws had he stood again this year.

However we support him 100% on this matter, hence this post. Laws is right to front-foot it against those who seek to attack him through his family. How that took place is set out in the complaint which he has laid with the police.

And to help the police in their investigations, Laws has provided evidence in support of his allegations. This evidence includes an e-mail from a journalist at the local paper alleging that Goulter offered to sell the Wanganui Chronicle details of correspondence between Laws and another person, and Facebook transmissions where Barbara Osborne admits to hacking Laws' Facebook page.

Michael Laws has effectively slam-dunked Jevan Goulter's mayoral and council campaign, and for that we should be grateful. If Goulter has one shred of integrity, he should immediately withdraw his nominations, apologise to all and sundry, and bugger off back to Wellington. We won't however hold our breath.

Stop Press; NBR capitulates

Chalk up another win for the blogosphere - Roarprawn reports:

NBR apologises for Veuve Clicquot competition confusion

The National Business Review unreservedly apologises for the confusion surrounding our 40th birthday competition. It was never our intention to cause confusion about the voting for the Win Your Weight in Veuve promotion but people have expressed frustration and we have listened to their concerns.

The official winner (as chosen by the judges from the top 10 voted entries) will be announced, on schedule, in NBR print tomorrow.

In addition, the publisher will personally provide Busted Blonde’s weight in Veuve Clicquot to her to demonstrate that NBR will not allow its integrity, transparency or honesty in its dealings with its readers to be compromised in any way. She received the most online votes in the competition and NBR happily salutes that success.

As a responsible host, the publisher would, however, appeal to Busted Blonde to urge her guests to wear life jackets if celebrating their win on Wellington Harbour. Let the festivities begin.

You bewdy! NBR and Veuve Clicquot faced an absolute PR nightmare yesterday as the blogosphere, followed some distance later by the MSM gave them a right good towelling over the NBR's 40th birthday promotion. They've done the only possible thing; backed down, sucked it up and put it right, as we suggested that they should, and in the best traditions of Alan Martin of LV Martin & Co.

Keeping Stock congratulates Busted Blonde on a belatedly happy outcome, and the authors are delighted to have played a small part in the campaign. Busted Blonde will use her good fortune to raise money for charity, so everyone's a winner. We can now look forward to the celebration!

Leave the families out of it

There's been a bit of a spat in sleepy old W(h)anganui in the last few days as the local body election campaign kicks off - the Dom-Post reports:

An assault complaint has been laid against Whanganui Mayor Michael Laws after a push-and-shove with a city mayoral candidate.

Mr Laws was unapologetic about the incident yesterday, in which he said he "manhandled" 21-year-old Jevan Goulter outside the Whanganui studio where Mr Laws broadcasts his Radio Live morning talkback show.

The scuffle happened just before 9am, after Mr Goulter served legal papers on Mr Laws for defamation of character.

Mr Laws said the conflict was fuelled by Mr Goulter's attempt also to serve legal papers on his five-year-old daughter, Lucy, outside St John's Hill School on Friday.

And Michael Laws gives his version of events from Friday:

He also gave his version of the exchange between Mr Goulter and Ms Brookhammer on Friday. "He deliberately came in between my ex-partner and my daughter as she was picking her up.

"If you attempt to use my child ... or my family in a political stunt or a campaign against me and frighten them ... then I will get very, very angry indeed – and justifiably so, in my book."

Goulter's story is, of course, somewhat different:

Mr Goulter said he was at St John's Hill School on Friday to pick up a seven-year-old girl when he came across Ms Brookhammer and took the opportunity to serve her with a trespass notice on behalf of friend and Miss Teen Whanganui Pageant organiser Barbara Osborne.

Now, we think it defies belief that Goulter "just happened" to be doing a school pick-up, and "just happened" to have the trespass notice for Ms Brookhammer. Quite frankly, we do not believe Jevan Goulter.

Goulter has created a storm of controversy since arriving in W(h)anganui. He has aligned himself with a group of people who have been openly hostile to Michael Laws, he has appointed himself to various roles, and now he is serving legal papers for litigation which he himself has instituted. Goulter is also at the centre of allegations of trying to hock off private e-mails between Michael Laws and another woman to the media.

Those allegations in themselves raise concerns over Goulter's fitness for any public office. But to have bullied Laws' ex-partner (with the emphasis on ex) and his five-year-old daughter is gutter politics in the extreme. Jevan Goulter's candidacy for the W(h)anganui mayoralty and a seat on the District Council seems to be motivated by a desire to destroy Michael Laws, and he has demonstrated that he will plummet the depths to achieve that.

So here's our message to Jevan Goulter; campaign on issues, campaign robustly, and if you have an issue with Michael Laws, debate it with him face-to-face, not through the media. But whatever else you do, leave his family out of it. Trying to get at an opponent via his family is the lowest form of behaviour; frankly, it's gutless.

UPDATE: Michael Laws takes some legal steps of his own, and we applaud him for it. There's now no point in voting for Jevan Goulter; he's been trespassed by the Wanganui District Council, so he wouldn't be able to turn up for work!!

Biker BBQ Caption Contest

We couldn't resist when we saw this piccie on the Stuff website last night. You can read the real story here, but why let the truth get in the way of a good caption contest?

So give it your best shot; meanwhile we'll get it started:

Phil said "There'll be no barbies at Cunners' place this weekend; I've made sure of that!"

Phil Goff's fail

Poor Phil. He just can't take a trick can he. He's tried to engineer Chris Carter's expulsion from the Labour Party (and thus far has failed), and now he's tried to engineer Carter's resignation as MP for Te Atatu - and failed - check this out:

Te Atatu MP Chris Carter yesterday confirmed he intended seeing out his current term of office and was not looking elsewhere for work.

Labour Party sources have been reported as saying Mr Carter, who is on two months' sick leave from Parliament after being outed as the writer of an anonymous letter undermining his leader Phil Goff last month, had indicated he planned to resign, triggering a byelection.

The sources also claimed Mr Carter had approached the Labour Party for help in finding another job.

Yesterday, Mr Carter denied both claims.

"At this point in time I'm happy to continue being the MP for Te Atatu and I will be working hard for my constituents" he told TVNZ News as he left an Auckland gym.

Mr Carter also said he had not approached Labour or anybody else about a job.

So who might the "Labour Party sources" referred to in the story be? Let's get realistic here; who in the Labour Party is the keenest to see the back of Chris Carter (in a political sense, of course)? Did you guess Phil Goff? Yes, so did we. Conversely, who has the most to lose by Chris Carter remaining on the sidelines, undermining the leadership?

We are of the opinion that the "Labour Party sources" mentioned in the Herald's story might be very close indeed to the Labour leader's office. They could even be as close as Phil Goff's chief press secretary Kris Faafoi, who yesterday confirmed that he will seek the nomination for the Mana electorate.

All this makes Labour's supposed empathy for the little guy, for the worker a nonsense. Chris Carter defied the leadership, and for that he must be punished. Labour is certainly not acting in good faith towards Chris Carter, or as a good employer would be expected to act. What's most ironic of course, is that thus far, everything Chris Carter alleged in his letter has come to pass.

Chris Carter was right. Phil Goff is unelectable.

Arise Sir Butch II

We celebrated the award of a Kinighthood to Sir Peter Leitch when the Queen's Birthday Honours list was released in June. But let's face it; Sir Butch is a Kiwi icon, so his investiture yesterday is also thoroughly deserving of a mention! The Herald reports:

The Mad Butcher received his new moniker yesterday - officially becoming Sir Peter Leitch at a ceremony in Auckland.

Sir Peter was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business and philanthropy.

During the investiture ceremony at Government House in Epsom, family members watched as he knelt to receive the honour from Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand.

A rugby league fanatic and the Warriors' biggest supporter, Sir Peter swapped his signature team jersey for a crisp shirt, blazer and tie, draped with a traditional Maori cloak.

But the big smile was still there.

"This award is for the ordinary people," he said. "I couldn't have done anything without people coming to buy my meat."

Recognition of people such as Sir Butch is one of the reasons why we were so supportive of John Key's push to re-establish a titular honours system. Sir Peter is a classic rags-to-riches story of a man who's never lost sight of where he came from.

Sir Butch was reportedly preparing for an all-nighter to celebrate the investiture, which will surprise no-one who has met him in a social situation! Keeping Stock salutes the Regally Mad Butcher - maaaaate!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Did the earth...?

Apparently, there was an earthquake of reasonable significance in dear old Wanganui an hour or so ago. We were out driving at the time, and didn't feel a thing.

So, if you live on the west coast of the North Island, we have to pose the age-old question; did the earth move for you?

Updated - Rodney on Breakfast

Here's a head-up; it's Rodney Hide vs Paul Henry live on Breakfast after the 7am news. And Paul Henry reckons that he has questions for the Act leader; lot's of questions. It should be fun!

We'll comment once we get to work, and we'll link to the video whenever TVNZ gets around to putting it up on the Breakfast website.

UPDATED: We reckon that Rodney gave a pretty good account of himself this morning - the video link is here, where you can make your own judgment. We also reckon that Heather Roy's tenure might be soon to come to an end.

Raise the Burqa on name suppression

Cameron "WhaleOil" Slater is off to the Auckland District Court today to defend charges that he breached a number of name suppression orders. We wish him well with his defence. Unfortunately, we won't be in Auckland to support him, and whilst we would have loved to watch live streaming of his trial, the judge has ruled that out.

Cam has hatched a buzz-phrase for his campaign, and it's one that we agree with. He's campaigning to Raise the Burqa on bame suppression. When you look at it, that's a pretty good description of the effect that name suppression has; a little bit of the case is visible, but the important stuff is hidden.

We support Cam's campaign for a review of the laws surrounding name suppression, although we would not have gone down the same road that he did. But the case we blogged about on Monday - the convicted rapist secretly released into the community at a secret location - highlights that this is a section of our law in need or urgent review. Cam should be commended for shining a light into this dark and secret place.

So as The Whale makes his way into court this morning, we echo his rallying cry; it's time to Raise the Burqa on name suppression.

Updated - NBR - fail; Veuve Clicquot - fail

Why would we be awarding "fail" marks to the National Business Review, and the makers of Veuve Clicquot bubbles? Have a read of this post over at WhaleOil's blog, and you'll get the picture. WhaleOil explains:

NBR ran a com­pe­ti­tion to cel­e­brate their 40th birth­day, in con­junc­tion with Veuve Clic­quot. Here in the blo­gos­phere we have had issues before with Veuve Clic­quot and their less than trans­par­ent com­pe­ti­tions. We had sus­pi­cions that NBR and Veuve Clic­quot would con­spire to rob the right­ful of their prize.

It is ironic that NBR and Veuve Clic­quot utilised social media, includ­ing blogs, Face­book and Twit­ter to encour­age entrants to solicit sup­port and pub­lic­ity for NBR and Veuve Cliquot yet they ignore the results of the ensu­ing online voting.

Yes you heard it here first NBR have cho­sen their win­ner and it isn’t Busted Blonde who won by a mar­gin as large as her arse. We are unaware of who the win­ner is but I doubt it is Liar Joe either con­sid­er­ing votes didn’t seem to mat­ter and the sim­ple fact fact he couldn’t spell the spon­sors name.

We think this is akin to com­pil­ing the NBR Rich List and then plac­ing Terry Serepisos as num­ber one because BMW, the spon­sor, sold him three cars last year and mirac­u­lously got paid, or per­haps pick­ing a loser ben­e­fi­ciary from South Auck­land as the Rich­est Per­son in New Zealand because they have the most love with 22 children…..hold on that would make Bob Jones num­ber one.

Quite sim­ply NBR and Veuve Clic­quot can no longer be trusted as either a source for news or as a decent lux­ury brand when they bla­tantly make up rules as they go along and when an out­come doesn’t suit their PR firms pitch for the com­pe­ti­tion just com­pletely rub­bish the input of the thou­sands of peo­ple who in good faith voted for Busted Blonde, includ­ing we must add many mem­bers of the media who were look­ing for­ward to con­sum­ing free piss on someone’s ticket.

There's a whole lot more, and we reckon that questions will be being asked at both companies as to how they could have stuffed this up so badly; really serious questions, with possible career-limiting potential. The NBR's 40th birthday bash has been ruined, and Veuve Clicquot suffers guilt by association.

There's only one way for this to end happily. The NBR needs to get Busted Blonde in quick-smart, weigh her, and give her double the promised amount of Veuve. That might work. But as of tonight, the ball is fairly and squarely in the NBR's court. It's their stuff-up to put right, and as Alan Martin from LV Martin always used to say "It's the putting right that counts"!!

UPDATED: We wonder how the wallahs at Veuve Clicquot and Barry Colman, the owber of NBR are feeling this morning. The blogosphere is giving them an absolute towelling:

WhaleOil notes that it's Social Media destruction on a grand scale

Cactus Kate quaffs a few bubbles, but Veuve is off the menu, as is the NBR when her sub runs out

Clint Heine reckons that NBR can't be trusted

Will de Cleene will be drinking other brands of bubbles

And Roarprawn, of course, is at the heart of it all, as that is where this the insult has been delivered. Hell clearly has no fury like a woman blogger scorned! Social media have risen up and bitten these cowboys in the bottom line, and that is just as it should be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two football questions ...

The Wellington Phoenix side has made an encouraging start to the A-League season. The team currently sits in fourth place in the 11-team league, with a game in hand. The arrival of defender Jade North in a few weeks, and the signing of Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic for the remainder of the season can only strengthen the squad.

The guys hit the road for the next two matches, and we'll have a better guide on their form and prospects then. In the meantime, we have two questions:

  1. Is there a better player in the A-League than Paul Ifill?
  2. Will he score a better goal than this one this season?

Paul Ifill is a class act, and is a huge asset to the 'Nix. He played his 400th top level club match on Sunday in a career spanning 13 seasons. He reckons that he could be around for another four or five seasons, and hopes to bring up his 500 matches while still in the A-League. We guess that begs a third question; should the Phoenix be assembling a war chest to make sure that Ifill stays in Wellington?

That one's a no-brainer in our always-humble opinion. Abso-bloody-lutely!

Now he can focus on golf

So, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordgren have officially divorced. It's been a costly business for the world's #1 golfer. This statement comes from Tiger's website:

We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future. While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us. Once we came to the decision that our marriage was at an end, the primary focus of our amicable discussions has been to ensure their future well-being. The weeks and months ahead will not be easy for them as we adjust to a new family situation, which is why our privacy must be a principal concern.

Elin Nordgren is reputed to have squeezed Tiger for something in the region of US$750m. We wonder how much of it will be spent on legal fees; check out the footer to the statement:

Ms. Nordegren was represented by McGuireWoods attorneys Richard Cullen and Dennis I. Belcher in Richmond, Scott S. Cairns in Jacksonville and Walter H. White, Jr., and Josefin Lonnborg in London, assisted by Rebecca Palmer of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. Thomas J. Sasser of the West Palm Beach, Florida firm of Sasser, Cestero and Sasser P.A., and Peter T. Mott of the Southport, Connecticut firm of Brody Wilkinson, P.C., Mr. Woods' long time general counsel, represented Mr. Woods.

Tiger has long been reported as having short arms and deep pockets. But it's probably been a sensible and pragmatic decision to only have his general counsel (probably on a retainer) represent him here. By contrast, Elin Woods will have as many lawyers bills, it would seem, as Tiger has cocktail waitresses!

Let's hope now that this sordid business is over, and that Tiger can go back to doing what he does best; winning golf tournaments. We're sure that we have not seen the last of the world's best golfer.

"A victim of the system"

The inquest for Nia Glassie is in progress in the Rotorua District Court, and there was some interesting evidence given yesterday. Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka testified that the wrestling moves applied to the three-year-old were just "play-fighting". But this evidence, as reported on Stuff has left us literally speechless, which as anyone who knows us will attest in no mean feat - read on:

Three-year-old Nia Glassie died a horrific death because her mother was a "victim of the system" and was unable to get the support she needed, a coroner's inquest was told yesterday.

A paediatrician called for more resources to be given to supporting children at risk of family violence and to stressed parents.

In Rotorua District Court yesterday, Lake District Health Board paediatrician Johan Moreau gave evidence into the inquest of the cause of Nia's death in August 2007.

Whilst Dr Moreau's call for more resources to be given to supporting children is valid, we couldn't disagree more strongly with the opening comment.

Lisa Kuka was not a "victim of the system". Lisa Kuka and others like her know "the system" inside out, and they exploit it to maximum advantage. To her credit, Lisa Kuka was working, but we will lay odds that others in the home were receiving benefits from "the sytem" to which they may well have not been entitled.

If you can stomach it, read this 2008 Herald story on the Nia Glassie case. There is only one victim in this case; Nia Glassie. She was brutalised by Wiremu Curtis, Michael Curtis, Oriwa Kemp, Michael Pearson and by Lisa Kuka herself. They killed Nia Glassie, not "the system". Let us never forget that.

Yoof boozing

If ever evidence was needed to support the government's alcohol law reforms, especially the split purchase age and the parental consent provisions, the Dom-Post provides it - read on:

About 100 drunken youths at a 17th birthday party on the Kapiti Coast trashed a house and left a trail of destruction and scared residents in their wake.

Police were called to Matatua Rd, Raumati, at 2am on Saturday to find more than a hundred people aged between 16 and 24 hurling abuse and bottles. They had trashed the party house, breaking 14 windows.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair MacMillan said a 17-year-old was arrested for breaching the peace but there was little five officers could do. "Bottles and other projectiles were thrown at them. I would not expect them to wade in to make wholesale arrests with disregard for their own safety." After trashing the house the mob made its way two kilometres south to a pool complex, leaving a trail of broken glass and damaged property, including a letterbox thrown into a car, and a mufti police vehicle's windscreen which was shattered with a bottle or a hammer.

"It was shocking, chaotic, a prime example of youths not having the maturity or tolerance for alcohol. If they continue this binge drinking, they will have developmental problems," Mr MacMillan said. "They may think it is harmless fun but it is scary. People are killed through alcohol over-indulgence when situations get out of control. Parents should know what their children are doing and set boundaries and conditions."

We doubt that this is an isolated incident, but it's noteworthy given the intended law changes announced yesterday. Youth drinking is a real issue, and something needs to change. We're just not sure what.

What is particularly worrying though is the mindless violence and destruction of property. We went to numerous parties in our mis-spent youth, where copious quantities of beer were consumed. But we certainly never trashed a place we were visiting. There's little doubt that our values around other people's property have changed. Add alcohol to the mix, and stories such as the one above are all too prevalent.

So where to next? That is the problem facing this government, and those that follow. Attitudes have changed hugely in little more than a generation, coupled with a general loss of respect for anything which represents authority or the establishment. Reversing those attitudes is a Herculian task. We not so naive as to believe that yesterdays alcohol law reform announcements will be some sort of panacea, but we would hope that they are at the very least a signal that parents need to take some responsibility for the behaviour of their children.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alcohol law reform

The embargo has just been lifted on the government's proposals to overhaul alcohol laws in the wake of the Law Commission's exhaustive report. The Herald notes:

The package includes:

* A split purchase age for 18 for on-licences (bars and restaurants) and 20 for off-licences (liquor outlets and supermarkets)

* Having national trading hours of 7am-11pm for off-licences and 8am-4am for on-licences

* Empowering local authorities to override these trading hour restrictions, though extremes of a 24/7 free-for-all or a totally 'dry' policy would fall foul of the test for reasonableness test

* Local communities will be able to decide on the concentration, location and hours of alcohol outlets, including one-way door policies. Granting licences will have to consider whether "the good order of the area would be lessened".

* Ready To Drink beverages will be restricted so they cannot hold more than 1.5 standard drinks or have more than 5 per cent alcohol content

* Making it criminal offence to provide a minor (under 18) with alcohol without a parents' or guardians' consent, and if consent is given, the alcohol must be supplied in a responsible manner

* Dairies and convenience stores will have to be considered "grocery stores" before being eligible to be an off-licence

* Cracking down on those who drink in carparks, school grounds and other private places by including them in the definition of a 'public place'.

* Restrictions on alcohol promotions apply to all businesses

* Investigating a minimum price regime

Clearly, there's a huge amount of information to be absorbed. But DPF, ever the Lord of the Blog has been sitting in the lock-up at Parliament blogging away merrily and publishing at the appointed hour - he opines:

Have been in the lockup for the Government’s response to the Law Commission report on alcohol. It is one of the largest cabinet papers on record, with a huge 202 recommendations. The Minister has obviously spent a lot of time going through the issues.

The zealots have already slammed the report because the Government did not implement everything the Law Commission recommended. I say thank God for that. The previous Labour Government commissioned that report, from a body headed up by a former Labour Prime Minister. Why on earth a National Government would be expected to do everything they say, I don’t know.

We have elections in this country to decide policies, and I am glad the Government has not gone down the total nanny state path. In some areas they have gone done that path, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

If Labour want to campaign at the next election to ban Tui billboards, outlaw alcohol sponsorship of sports, hike the alcohol excise tax by 50%, make it a crime for a 19 year old to have a glass of wine with his/her parents in a restaurant and force bars to have a one way policy at 2 am, then that would make my day. The alcohol zealots should encourage Labour to promise that, and then the people can decide at the election.

DPF has also given a point-by-point analysis of the government's proposals which should be mandatory reading this afternoon for anyone interested in this important socio-political issue. He is of the opinion that Simon Power has done a pretty good job with the proposed reforms, and we're inclined to agree. In many ways the government is on a hiding to nothing with this issue.

Doubtless there will be much more written and spoken about these proposed reforms, and the devil, as always, will be in the detail. At first glance, the split purchasing age has some appeal, although DPF suggests that it is deeply flawed. The reduction in alcohol-by-volume in RTD's is a very welcome proposal in our opinion, as is the $2000 fine for supplying alcohol to under-18's without parental consent; that is a big step in the right ditrection as far as we are concerned.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.