Thursday, September 30, 2010

On the road again

We're off to Christchurch shortly, to celebrate a significant family milestone. We were a little taken aback to see that the Garden City was hit by another reasonably significant aftershock (magnitude 4.5; 11km deep) mid-morning, so are resigned to the fact that the earth is likely to move for us at some point over the weekend!

Such is the nature of self-employment however that we'll be taking a bag-full of work with us, and the laptop will see plenty of use whilst we're not participating in celebrations. The disruption to blogging is likely to be significantly less compared to the disruption to life in Canterbury.

We'll post a few observations from Christchurch over the weekend, both in regard to the earthquake and the mayoral race, where Jim Anderton seems likely to finish second, barring any further seismic shifts.

Is Williams the defamatory mayor too?

Mayor Andrew Williams has been very active on Facebook as of late. He'd need to be; on current polling, just 1% of voters support his bid for the Auckland mayoralty. And he's made a few "interesting" allegations about people who refuse to kow-tow to him. We won't repeat them; that would merely add to the smears.

But it would seem that the mayor of North Shore might have a problem, given that the allegations appear to be without foundation - the North Shore Times reports:

Two leading political figures have hit back at mayor Andrew Williams who launched a vitriolic attack on them this week.

In an emailed press release, Mr Williams says councillor Chris Darby and former councillor Gary Holmes "have no scruples and will stoop to anything".

He goes on to say: "They are the two of the worst individuals I have had to deal with in my nine years of local government."

Oh dear. Wouldn't it be a shame if Andrew Williams' last public act was to be an appearance in the courts facing a suit for defamation? Gary Holmes has refuted Williams' allegations - read on:

Former councillor Mr Holmes is standing for the the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board. He recently stood down as general manager of the North Harbour Business Association.

Mr Williams alleges the reasons for Mr Holmes' resignation were of a financial nature. The allegations were repeated in an anonymous email received by the North Shore Times a day later.

Mr Holmes says the allegations are "categorically untrue and I refute those suggestions totally.

"As reported on the association's website, and as NHBA chairman Graham Boult has confirmed, we agreed to part ways amicably after a divergence of views on processes and the way forward."

Mr Boult confirmed Mr Holmes' comments when contacted by the North Shore Times.

"Mayor Andrew Williams has also accused me of covert political activities with Cameron Slater, an Albany ward candidate for council," Mr Holmes says.

Mr Slater is a blogger who has been highly critical of Mr Williams over the past three years.

"I have met Mr Slater on at least three occasions at candidate meetings and as they were always in the presence of other candidates and members of the public. I'm not sure how they can be deemed to be covert," Mr Holmes

"The politically motivated actions and unsubstantiated allegations of mayor Williams and others who are too cowardly to identify themselves say more about their character than they do about mine."

Cr Chris Darby has held back either:

Mr Darby says the mayor is the last person who should be passing judgement on ethics and behaviour.

Earlier this year Mr Williams made headlines after he was seen urinating on a tree outside the council headquarters after drinking in two bars.

Just months into his mayoralty Mr Williams received national media attention after lashing out at an ambulance officer after he collapsed at a navy function.

He has also been under fire for sending angry late-night emails, including some to Prime Minister John Key.

Mr Darby says Mr Williams has "had a sorry time as mayor and that's now coming to an end. He's scrambling for attention".

"It's par for the course for Andrew. The language at this level is how he operates. It's the belligerence and bullying we have seen for a long period."

Andrew Williams reckons he has "conclusive evidence" to support his allegations, but we've heard that one before from him. The sooner that the election results are announced and that it is confirmed that Andrew Williams has been dumped from public life by the thinking voters of Auckland and the Albany Ward, the better, in our ever-humble opinion.

An interesting endorsement ...

There are some strange things going on out there. Matt McCarten and some other lefties have set up a website to tell people who to vote for (how left is that?) in the Auckland Supercity elections, and look what Matt has to say about the Albany Ward:

Yes, that's right dear readers. Matt McCarten, the darling of the left wants Albany voters to support Cameron "WhaleOil" Slater, and DOESN'T want voters to support Andrew Williams, describing him as "a fraud" and "totally self-absorbed". We're guessing that Mayor Andrew Williams will be defriending Matt McCarten on Facebook and elsewhere, probably late at night or very early in the morning.

Vote Slater for Albany Ward!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

P-Divvy survives

There's some great news for New Zealand rugby this week; the South African Rugby Union sees no reason why its coach, Peter de Villiers should not coach the Springboks in next year's Rugby World Cup.

A month or so ago it seemed inevitable that de Villiers would be axed after a horror season for the Springboks, and after a series of verbal and selection gaffes. But either de Villiers is made of sterner stuff, or he knows which skeletoins might tumble out of which SARU board members' closets, for he has lived to fight another day. That can only be good news for the All Blacks and the Wallabies in a year's time.

Peter de Villiers wears his heart on his sleeve, and isn't afraid to speak his mind, although he and his defenders have been quick to play the "English is my second language" card. Some of his selections this season bordered on the bizarre however, and it is strongly suspected that he is coach in name only.

In any event, Peter de Villiers seems likely to be a part of South Africa's Rugby World Cup defence next season, prompting this warning from Wynne Gray to our northern rugby brethren:

Then New Zealand and Australia chipped in asking for a Sanzar hearing into P Divvy's behaviour. That provoked the ire of SARU boss Oregan Hoskins, who labelled it a "declaration of war".

It was more like foolish. Why would New Zealand and Australia want a struggling Springbok coach removed? P Divvy is the best ally the Tri-Nations sides have for next year's series and subsequent World Cup.

Fortunately SARU came to the same conclusion. De Villiers will be in charge of the Boks on their end-of-year tour and unless there is a massive meltdown on that trip, he will be in charge for the seventh World Cup in New Zealand.

Now, you Brits, go easy on P Divvy. He's a good bloke, misunderstood. He's bringing over a composite side to tackle the Grand Slam, cut him some slack and just enjoy the journey because there will be a few laughs along the way.

Indeed. P-Divvy, we salute you!

Dom-Post on Goff, fruit and vegetables

The Dom-Post devotes this morning's editorial to Phil Goff's plans to exempt fresh fruit and veges from GST. And unlike Tracy Watkins, the leader writer isn't impressed - the editorial begins:

Labour's promise to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables reeks of desperation.

With his party languishing at 32 per cent in the latest Colmar Brunton poll – a formidable 22 points behind National – Labour leader Phil Goff's desire for a circuit breaker is entirely understandable. However, that does not make his choice any less wrong-headed.

Mr Goff was one of the Labour Cabinet that introduced GST. That Cabinet, for sound reasons, stood firm against union and grassroots party pressure for a range of exemptions, including for food. It is notable that Helen Clark's government did not act to exempt fresh fruit and vegetables from GST, despite having nine years to do so. Nor did Labour vigorously take up Maori Party MP Rahui Katene's proposed exemption for healthy food in a member's bill earlier this year, voting but not campaigning hard for it.

Oh dear. We'd hazard a guess that Phil Goff and his media team cringe whenever someone reminds them of Phil Goff's lengthy ministerial past, or when anyone challenges his attempts to rewrite history. After all, Goff is the frontperson for pamphlets talking about "National's 15% GST" when he and his cabinet colleagues in the 1980's were directly responsible by far the greater part of it. How time dims the memories!

But the leader writer is not finished, noting the can of worms that will inevitably be opened should Labour ever get the opportunity to advance this policy, noting:

They will be asked why those who buy their peas fresh should be favoured over those who buy them frozen – there is little, if any, difference in the health benefits they deliver.

They will be asked why the exemption should apply only to fruit and vegetables, and not to other elements of a healthy diet, such as fish and lean meat.

They will be asked why they do not provide for other exemptions to promote other activities that benefit society – removing GST from bicycles or solar panels, for example.

Finally, they will be queried as to why they don't tackle what many see as more pressing anomalies in the current system, such as the levying of GST on rates.

We reckon that Goff has erred majorly with his focus on such a narrow area. To us the appeal of GST is its universal nature; you buy, you pay. Those with more money to spend will end up carrying a bigger share of the GST burden, and we don't have a problem with that. It's also the easiest tax to administer.

Labour's proposal will be an administrative nightmare. Fortunately, we are not in the food business, but we sympathise for anyone who is, should Labour ever be returned to the Treasury benches. And after Labour's deceit over the Axe the Tax bus trip earlier in the year, could the voter trust them? We have our doubts.


From the Oh Dear; How Sad; Never Mind department comes the sad saga of the Australia's Next Top Model Final fiasco - have a look at this:

We don't know who to feel the most sorry for; the contestants, hostess Sarah Murdoch (who seemed more concerned for her own image than any trauma for Kelsey or Amanda), or the poor viewers who had to endure this farce!

Cutting off their noses

Chalk up a victory to the Australian-based union Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. There will be no non-union labour involved in the shooting of the Sir Peter Jackson movie The Hobbit when it starts production whenever it starts production.

That's because it's now almost inevitable that The Hobbit will not be filmed in New Zealand as the Herald reports:

The producers of The Hobbit movie say they are considering filming the J R R Tolkien adaptation elsewhere after an actors' union called for a boycott of the film.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said makers of The Hobbit had refused to enter into a union-negotiated agreement and advised members not to accept work on the project because actors may be employed on inferior non-union contracts.

New Line, Warner Bros Pictures and MGM, said in a statement today their general policy was to avoid filming in locations where "there is a potential for work force uncertainty or other forms of instability".

"As such, we are exploring all alternative options in order to protect our business interests."

Well done MEAA. By adopting the hard-line approach that you have taken, you've cost dozens of actors the chance to work of a hugely significant movie, and possibly dealt a fatal blow to the New Zealand film industry. We can only surmise that MEAA's head honchos have been to the same classes in How Not To Win Friends And Influence People as the executive of NZEI.

Ah well; they probably didn't like their noses anyway ...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who said this?

Who made this statement?

I am aware of many countries that have appallingly inefficient GST systems where they exempt various articles, where they have differential rates, and where one has to differentiate between food taken away from a place and food consumed within a place. Thank goodness we have not followed those very bad policies. I am certainly aware in New Zealand of GST being levied on top of other taxes. Every time the member fills up his petrol tank he is doing precisely that.

Why, it was none other that the Hon Dr Michael Cullen, answering a supplementary question from Gordon Copeland on 4 August 2004.

That causes us to pose a question to Phil Goff and David Cunliffe; if the implementation of differential rates of GST was considered by Dr Cullen to be "very bad policies" in 2004, whatever has changed?

Unions behaving badly

We're generally supportive of the job that teachers do. It's certainly not a role which we would ever contemplate taking on. We can recall our youth, and what obnoxious snots we were; young people certainly haven't improved in the many intervening years.

We're far less charitable towards the two major teacher unions though. We regard ourselves as fortunate that few, if any of the staff we employ see any benefit in membership of the NZEI. We try our best to be a good employer, and it would seem that most of our teaching staff feel likewise.

We're getting off the point though; we were NOT impressed by two union stories on the TV news last night. First up, 3News carried the story of accusations of brainwashing of students against the PPTA. Letters have been arriving at Education Minister Anne Tolley's office from students supposedly supporting secondary teachers' pay claims. That the letters are all similar in content suggests collusion. That the letters are printed on PPTA-branded stationery is telling. Anne Tolley is absolutely right, in our always-humble opinion, to call the PPTA on this unprofessional conduct. We hope that the Boards of Trustees of the schools involved investigate this, and make it clear to any teachers involved that using students as pawns in their political games is totally off limits.

The second story concerns the NZEI, which is holding its conference in Rotorua this week. One News reported that Anne Tolley was invited to address the conference, but delegates put on a concerted display of rudeness of the highest order. If they didn't want Tolley there, why did they extend an invitation to her? Teachers may not like the government's policy of National Standards for whatever reason, but the evidence to date is that parents are right behind the government.

Possibly the worst aspect of this childish protest was that it appeared on the video to be orchestrated and led by those sitting at the top table; the NZEI hierarchy (see the photograph above). Leaving aside the obvious politics involved, this was an appalling display of discourtesy by the NZEI to an invited guest. The cynic in us wonders how the teachers attending yesterday's session model couresy and respect to students whom they are teaching.

Yesterday was not a red-letter day for the teacher unions. It's in their DNA to oppose pretty much anything that a National government proposes, but both the NZEI and PPTA hit new lows yesterday.

Whatever happened to "Axe the Tax" Phil?

Phil Goff, amid much fanfare yesterday, unveiled Labour's plan to exempt fresh fruit and vegetables from GST. He also made a rather stark admission, as the Dom-Post reports (with our emphasis added):

A Labour-led government will not reverse the GST rise if elected next year, leader Phil Goff has admitted.

The tax would be cut from fresh fruit and vegetables, under the first of Labour's cost-of-living election policies announced yesterday. It would save the average family about $6 a week, Mr Goff said.

The policy is part of the party's campaign against the Government's tax package, which kicks in on Friday. It increases GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

Mr Goff said that if Labour took power next year, it could not afford to undo the rise, but removing the levy from fruit and vegetables would "reduce the unfairness and the pressure" on families.

Come on Phil; you'll have to do better than that. After all, you were happy to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars driving around the country telling everyone that Labour wanted to Axe the Tax.

Check out the photograph below:

You'll note just to the right of Phil Goff's head the Parliamentary Crest appears on the signwriting of the big red bus. That signals something important; that we, the taxpayers of New Zealand paid for Phil Goff and co to take a message around the country which they never had any intention of delivering on.

Labour misled New Zealand over the Axe the Tax campaign, and the taxpayer footed the bill. Why should we trust Phil Goff to deliver on any policy, let alone one as fraught with loopholes as that which was announced yesterday?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finger on the pulse

We've just signed up to the Herald's Facebook page, which seems to be a good spot for Facebook users to offer brief and pithy comment on the issues of the day.

The topic de jour is, not surprisingly, Labour's proposal to exempt fresh fruit and veges from GST. It's not a policy that we support, and it seems that a great many peopl share our view. If Phil Goff thinks that this is the circuit-breaker issue, he really IS out of touch!

Then again, there are those who will vote Labour regardless, like this commenter who opines:

they'll get my vote regardless ..neva wanna threw lies and crap from national govo

Heh; comments like this reassure us that John Key's government is on the right track with the move to National Standards!

The Monday Quote - 28/09/2010

From the Q&A transcript yesterday comes this little exchange:

GUYON Did you think honestly, Mr Cunliffe, that they were fair brochures to put out, or did you think they were misleading?

MR CUNLIFFE Oh, I wouldn't call them misleading at all. I mean, we're looking at the aggregate impact of GST on New Zealanders. That's a matter that we take to heart. My constituents are struggling. This is probably the absolute worst time, as New Zealand's struggling to climb its way out of a recession, to be putting GST up on ordinary Kiwis. It's just bad timing and it's a bad move.

GUYON Just before I leave that pamphlet, the man who's mentioned in it, Mote Pahulu - is he the same man who's standing with George Hawkins in the supercity left-wing ticket in Manukau?

MR CUNLIFFE I have no idea, I'm sorry.

GUYON You don't think that Labour putting that out and putting him just as an ordinary shopper was again slightly misleading?

MR CUNLIFFE Well, look, I'm sorry, I didn't write the pamphlet and I don't know Mote, and if it is the same one, well, that will be happenstance, but I can't confirm that, I'm sorry.

Oh dear; David Cunliffe gets caught in Labour's porkies over GST, and it's all a case of "happenstance:. We will file that word away for future use!

It's all good though; Cunners is sorry - twice!

Hat-tip: MonkeyWithTypewriter

Who says it's a let-down?

It seems that Dominion-Post political writer Tracy Watkins has elevated herself to the role of speaking on behalf of all New Zealanders - under the headline Labour plan for GST-free fruit tipped amid tax-cut letdown she opines:

Labour leader Phil Goff is tipped to announce today plans to axe GST on fresh fruit and vegetables as household budgets come under pressure amid signs that few are banking on this week's tax cuts offering them much relief.

And we can't help but wonder if her story this morning is all her own work, or if she is angling to become David Cunliffe's chief press secretary when he rolls Phil Goff, and has recycled one of Cunners' press releases. She's certainly running the Labour line - read on:

The tax package, worth $14 billion over four years, will deliver whopping rises to the likes of Telecom boss Paul Reynolds, who is set to get an extra $4800 a week, while the lowest income earners get less than $10 a week – nearly all of which is swallowed up by the rise in GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

The Government says the average worker will be about $15 a week better off, but Labour disputes that. Finance spokesman David Cunliffe said three-quarters of the tax package went to the top income earners while at least 70 per cent of earners would be worse off under the tax cut package, once GST and other cost-of-living increases were taken into account, such as ACC levies, rates, childcare and insurance premiums.

Now we realise that getting journalists to run the party line is all part of the game of politics. But this one's just a bit too obvious. Paul Reynolds was a popular target for opposition speakers throughout the budget debate. His $4800/week tax cut makes for a great soundbite. But the likes of Paul Reynolds is the tip of the iceberg.

We haven't sat down yet and worked out by how much we will be better off after Friday's tax re-balancing exercise. We work hard, we work long hours, and we're in the fortunate position of being able to set our own remuneration. It's not a king's ransom, and if pro-rata'd against the hours week work, the hourly rate wouldn't look that flash. But we have no doubt that our net position will improve from the end of this week, and we're grateful for that. It certainly won't be a let-down to us, thank you very much Tracy!

A seismic boost

Just when things were looking up for Phil Goff and Labour, there was a bloody earthquake! An once again, Labour is polling as also-rans. The One News/Colmar Brunton poll has National enjoying 54% support, whilst Labour has slumped to 32%.

And the news keeps getting worse for Phil Goff. Despite John Key having taken Phil to Christchurch on one of his many post-quake visits there, Goff has slipped in the Preferred PM ratings to just 8% support. The only comfort for Goff is that One News no longer reports Helen Clark's PPM ratings!

It's now barely a year until the next election; possibly less if John Key decides to go to the country pre RWC 2011. We'd venture to suggest that Phil Goff's meter is about to expire. And the growing emergence of David Cunliffe on the TV circuit suggests that he might believe that it's now or never as well. Cunliffe was looking particularly self-satisfied last night.

Interesting times await us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Caption Contest

We've just had an interesting photograph turn up in our inbox, and we couldn't resist sharing it with our readers.

Whatever could Auckland mayoral candidate and Otara-Papatoetoe local board candidate Daljit Singh be talking about? Could it be the relative merits of Italian and Indian food?

We'll leave that up to you; give it your best shot!!

How much, Len?

So all the CEO's of disbanding councils in and around Auckland have been given golden handshakes to send them on their way.

But there seems to be an unhealthy degree of secrecy over the package paid out to Leigh Auton, Len Brown's CEO at Manukau City Council. Councils derive their income from ratepayers, so don't you think that ratepayers have a right to know how their hard-earned cash is being spent? We certainly do.

If Len Brown is going to run the Aucklnad supercity with this degree of secrecy, then we're glad we live down-country. Brown's Achilles heel seems to be transparency and openness, or as he himself has put it, truth; with limits. We reckon that Auckland ratepayers deserve better, so we call on Brown to front up over the level of Auton's exit package. And whilst he's at it, Brown might like to tell Manukau ratepayers just who it was they shouted a meal to at Volare restaurant last year.

It's THEIR money you're spending Len; never forget that.

A pre-emptive strike?

A pre-emptive strike; that's the only conclusion we can draw from Andrew Little's rather extraordinary statement last night about electoral fraud in South Auckland -the Herald reports:

The Labour Party will take action if any of its members were found to have been involved in a possible Auckland Super City voting scam involving the Papatoetoe ward, party president Andrew Little says.

Given that the offices of a Labour Party candidate have been searched by the police, and a laptop belonging to a Labour Party candidate has been seized, we wonder if this is a tacit admission from Little that members of the Labour Party have been involved in electoral fraud. We also wonder if Little has gone into damage-limitation mode.

Let's be frank here. This is electoral fraud, the like of which has not been seen in New Zealand before. This is a brazen attempt to influence the democratic process by vote-stacking. Although this has taken place in one particular ward in South Auckland, it has major implications for the integrity of our electoral system.

That's why we find Little's statement last night so interesting. It's almost as though he is admitting that Labour Party members, and candidates contesting local body seats under Labour Party colours have perpetrated this fraud. That in itself is extraordinary; that members and representatives of New Zealand's second-largest political party may be guilty of vote-rigging has huge implications for Labour's reputation.

We are sceptical however of Little's promises to deal with any miscreants internally. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and if any members of the Labour Party are proven to be corrupt, they must be dealt with publicly. Even today, no-one from Labour has publicly condemned the corrupt Phillip Field. Until his arrest, trial, conviction and sentence he was guilty of nothing more than working hard, and trying to be helpful. Labour has "acknowledged" his conviction (whatever that means), but never criticised Field. And let's not forget; the only crime Phillip Field committed that was worthy of expulsion from Labour was to raise the possibility of standing for another party. Can Labour be trusted to act against any cheats found to be in their midst?

We will await the outcome of the police investigation with interest. We will say this however; if anyone arrested and charged over this electoral fraud is an immigrant, they should be deported once they have served any sentence imposed by the Courts. New Zealand does not need nor want corruption of this nature.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Now that's what we call sentencing!

New Zealand judges please take note:

A Philippine court has sentenced a father to 14,400 years in prison after he was convicted of the near daily rape of his teenage daughter over the course of a year.

A trial court originally condemned the man, a rickshaw driver, to die in March 2006 after he was convicted of 360 counts of rape - allegedly done during the year his wife worked in Hong Kong.

But the Court of Appeals in Manila commuted the sentence to 40 years for each count, according to a court decision obtained yesterday.

Now that's a sentence that makes David Garrett's Three Strikes law look timid by comparison! Assuming the prisoner is a good boy, and qualifies for parole at two-thirds of his sentence, this miscreant will be eligible to apply for parole sometime around the year 11514 ...

Watkins on campaigning

Tracy Watkin's Dominion-Post column this morning is devoted to the Mana by-election, and she reckons it's a dry run for next year's election campaign - she opines:

The battleground, the fork in the road, the defining moment - no, not David Garrett's resignation, or the ongoing Chris Carter saga.

They are just sideshows. Next week is the real showdown, as October 1 shapes up as a huge date in both Labour and National's political calendars.

It would be overstating it to say that the election could be won or lost depending on what happens next week. But there is no mistaking the dress rehearsal atmosphere as both parties pitch their tents in Mana in preparation for a by-election on the twin issues of tax cuts and GST.

They are shaping up as among the major defining differences between the two parties.

Labour leader Phil Goff is expected to launch his party's campaign in Mana on Monday with a promise to axe GST on fresh fruit and veg.

It seems half-hearted when weighed against Prime Minister John Key's $4 billion in tax cuts. But Mr Goff has already signalled the reinstatement of a 38c tax rate for "the rich" (those earning more than $100,000).

In other words, his mission is to convince the lower-paid that any benefits from the GST rise/tax cut package are destined to flow largely to the rich. If the Mt Albert by-election was just for fun then this one, now that there is something real and meaty to fight over, is the real deal.

Whilst we have some agreement with Watkins' opinion regarding Mana being a test-bed for next year's campaign, we disagree with her conclusions as to the subject-matter of the fight. If the best policies that Phil Goff can come up with are to axe GST on fresh fruit and vege and to tax "the rich", Labour is deeply mired.

Turn your minds back to March this year, when with much fanfare, Labour's Axe the Tax bus tour rolled into a town near you. You, fellow taxpayers, and we paid for that dishonest jaunt around heartland New Zealand. Even before the trip was finished, Jacinda Ardern made the rather frank (for Labour) admission that Labour wasn't REALLY planning to Axe the Tax at all in terms of the then-proposed GST increase; Labour was merely campaigning against it, and Axe the Tax was a snappy rallying-cry! Labour's investment of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars was based on an untruth.

Since then, Phil Goff has tried to gain traction on a plan to exempt fresh fruit and vege from GST, but we fail to see that as a circuit-breaking issue for Labour. For small business, it's just going to be an extra compliance cost; for the consumer, the cost benefit is going to be negligible. Perhaps it's just a job creation scheme dreamed up by one of Labour's union affiliates whereby the staff of the IRD will have to treble in size to administer the complex GST regulations!

So bring it on Phil; if Labour wants to contest next year's election based on tax policy, we say "go for it". The Helen Clark delivered ONE tax cut in nine years of economic good times. John Key's government will deliver its second personal income tax cut in less than two years since it assumed office. Conversely, Phil Goff is going to roll back the tax cuts for the higher-paid if elected. We'll make sure THAT policy gets Phil all the publicity he doesn't want!

Commonwealth Games caption contest

Nice; really nice. Would YOU want to be going to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi? Let's have your best caption regarding the dreadful conditions in the athletes' village ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harden up Mayor Andrew Williams

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams has dropped another clanger - read on:

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has laid a police complaint against Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater and wants him struck off as a super-city council candidate for using his campaign to "stalk" him.

Slater, who is running against Williams in the Albany ward, has labelled the mayor a "coward and a bully" and says police have told him they will not be pursuing the matter.

The Whaleoil blogger sees his opposition to Williams as a civic duty - "He doesn't deserve to be a councillor. It's a duty of every citizen to do what they can. I'm being a candidate to make sure he doesn't get elected.''

Williams said Slater's whole campaign was a form of the "stalking" he had endured for over a year.

"He stands up at a meeting and says 'I will not urinate on a tree, I will not use a credit card in a Takapuna bar, I will not send drunken texts'."

"What he has put in his candidate profile is harassment. His whole campaign is focussed on attacking me."

This, however, is the worst piece:

Wiliams urged the electoral officer to strike off Slater as a candidate.

Mayor Andrew Williams needs to harden up. Politics is no place for the faint-hearted, and if he can't stand a bit of scrutiny, he should be looking at other career options. Instead, he's hanging off Len Brown's coat-tails, hoping to get a council seat from the Albany Ward, and hoping that Brown appoints him as his deputy mayor if elected.

As for his attempt to interfere with the democratic process by getting Cameron Slater struck off the ballot papers, Williams shows just what he thinks of democracy. The law allows anyone who stumps up a deposit to register as a candidate. Slater has done just that, and is putting up a robust campaign. We are appalled that the mayor of one of New Zealand's largest cities could have such a cavalier attitude towards democracy and participation in it.

We hope that the good voters of Albany take note of this attempt to bully a candidate and to subvert the electoral process. We urge them to send Andrew Williams a strong message by NOT voting for him in the Albany Ward. After all, why would ANYONE risk putting Andrew Williams literally within a heartbeat of the Auckland Supercity mayoralty?

Jesus with skin on

The Christian church, and indeed the Christian faith doesn't always get a good rap in the media, and all too often. Christians are their faith's own worst enemy. So we were delighted to see this story on Stuff this morning - check this out:

Christian aid group Habitat for Humanity plans to recruit an army of tradesmen to rebuild the homes of uninsured Christchurch earthquake victims.

The nonprofit group, which uses volunteer labour to build houses for families in need, hopes to assemble a workforce of more than 600 to complete the job, which could take up to 18 months.

Habitat chief executive Pete North said yesterday a national appeal asking tradesmen to volunteer "time and skill" for two to four weeks would begin next week.

That's a fantastic response from Habitat. These guys really are the epitome of Jesus with skin on; Habitat has built well over 350 homes throughout New Zealand over the past 17 years which have allowed families the opportunity to own an affordable home, built with volunteer labour. We know several families who have benefitted from Habitat's work, and to say that it has been life-changing for them doesn't even begin to describe the effect.

And Habitat has found a major supporter in the person on Bob Parker - read on:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Habitat's offer was "inspirational".

"One of the big concerns I've had for some time is that around the city there are a number of people who don't have insurance for a variety of reasons," he said.

"[Habitat] offered basically free labour if we were able to find materials, and I thought that was a brilliant idea."

Funding details were still being worked through, Parker said.

We have no idea whether or not Bob Parker is the prayin' kind, but Habitat for Humanity's offer to rebuild homes in Christchurch will be the answer to the prayers of many.

This Sporting Life - 24 September 2010

It's Friday again, and we are so over the rain and the wind. We feel for the good folk in the deep south who have had a heck of a lot more to bear this week than we have; the snow that started to fall on Saturday last became their worst spring nightmare.

So we were absolutely delighted to see Southland beat the Aucklanders last night at a pretty frigid looking Rugby Park in Invercargill. It wasn't a pretty match, but it was hard not to get caught up in those final few minutes as the Stags repelled attack after attack after attack. This was REAL rugby, not the fluff and bubbles version that the rugby hierarchy refers to as its "product". It was no-frills rugby, between two teams who gave everything. The 9-6 scoreline may have been akin to a Northern Hemisphere match (i.e. divisible by the value of penealty goals), but it was a cracking reminder of just how good rugby can be when the contest is primarily between the guys in single-figure jerseys. And is there a better hooker in New Zealand rugby at the moment than Jason Rutledge? What a match he had.

That has set the scene for another weekend of domestic rugby. Whilst the big match will be the Canterbury v Wellington fixture, our eyes will be on Cooks Gardens in Wanganui where the local boys only need a solitary point to head into the Meads Cup round as top qualifier. A third successive Meads Cup beckons for the mighty Wanganui lads.

The Phoenix had a defensive shocker against Melbourne Heart last week, and were deservedly flogged. They'll bounce back tonight against the North Queensland Fury; we hardly imagine that conditions will delight the lads from the tropics! And we're sure that the Yellow Fever faithful will have a very special Wellington welcome for Chris "Hand of" Payne. We're sure that the "Same old Aussies; always cheating" song will be heard more than once tonight.

The NRL has only two weeks to go, and it's crunch time this weekend as the Grand Finalists are found. We'll tip the Roosters to upset the Titans, but the St George v Wests Tigers match is tougher to pick; it will depend on which Tigers team turns up, possibly even which Benji Marshall. If the Kiwis captain can dominate the game, the Tigers might just upset the Minor Premiers.

What have we missed? The Tiger Woods-less Tour Championship will make a golfer very, very rich. F1 heads to Singapore. The Pakistani cricket tour of England has mercifully ended. We're sure there's more, but you can tell us, 'cos this is YOUR place to talk sport on a Friday innit!

Comment of the Day

We couldn't resist dropping this one in.

We haven't had a lot to say about the chaotic state of preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but we heard a radio announcer suggest this morning that the shambolic, unfit-for-human-habitation state of the Games Village might actually be a cunning security measure; no self-respecting terrorist would want to be seen dead there!

Just sayin ...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carter comes out swinging

Chris Carter has made a Lazarus-like return to the hallowed halls of Parliament, and his message to Phil Goff is clear; he's fighting Goff's move to expel him from the Labour Party. The Herald reports:

A statement issued by Chris Carter today suggests he is preparing to fight his expulsion from the Labour Party on the basis that he is still loyal to it.

"My dispute is not with the Labour Party but with the currently parliamentary leadership," he said.

That's interesting. We would have expected that during Carter's two-month hiatus (has it REALLY been that long?) that the Labour Party would have taken steps to resolve the issues with him that led to him taking stress leave.

Apparently not. It seems clear that there is still an enormous gulf between Carter and Goff, and that neither of them has any intention of backing away from a fully-fledged disciplinary hearing. At the end of the day, that can only mean bad news for Phil Goff.

Why do we say that? Well, Chris Carter is already damaged goods. There is no way that he can be a credible member of any future administration. He has nothing whatsoever to lose in fighting the move to expel him.

On the other hand, Phil Goff has everything to lose. He was tasked with the job of rebuilding the parliamentary Labour Party. To date his leadership has been dogged by gaffes - the Neelam Choudary affair, Axe the Tax (when Labour isn't axeing any taxes!), and expenses scandals to name just three, and his polling as preferred Prime Minister has only recently ventured beyond the margin of error. In addition, it seems that Carter's attack line about moves to oust Goff was not at all inaccurate.

For Phil Goff, this Mexican stand-off needed to be resolved quickly and decisively. Two months on, Carter has returned to Parliament, and nothing has changed; both men are still entrenched in their respective positions. It's messy, and it does nothing to diminish the widely-held perception that Goff is merely a seat-warmer.

779 and still counting

Christchurch has now had 779 jolts of energy since the "big one" not quite three weeks ago.

We stumbled across this map a short while ago, and it's worth taking a few moments to sit and watch nature's instability unfold under the Canterbury plains. If nothing else, it gives some sort of indication of the frequency of the aftershocks, and why some people's nerves are so frazzled, even though the numbers have dropped away in recent days.

We have to go down to Christchurch at the end of next week. It's going to be interesting to see how much has changed since we were last there in July, but we won't complain if the earth's subterrainian fury eases for a few days. There was another 4.5 magnitude aftershock this morning at 6.22am though, so we're not too optimistic!

What should we make of this?

We think it's great that the police are investigating allegations of attempted electoral fraud in South Auckland. Such behaviour is repugnant to us, and to our system of democracy.

But this caught our eye when we read the Herald story this morning (our emphasis added):

Four of the nine people standing for four seats in the Otara-Papatoetoe subdivision are Indian - Labour candidates Daljit Singh and Sukhdev Singh Hundal, and Citizens and Ratepayers candidates Avtar Hans and Narinder Kumar Singla.

Mr Gutry said candidates and campaign staff would be contacted as part of the inquiry. Yesterday, none of the four Indian candidates said they had been contacted by the police.

Daljit Singh yesterday said he knew of people who believed that because there was one Super City, they could vote anywhere.

People who may have unintentionally enrolled were being told to correct the matter with the Electoral Enrolment Centre, he said.

Previously, Daljit Singh told the Weekend Herald that Labour was not asking people to falsely enrol in the area to vote for him and linked rumours of this to a Citizens and Ratepayers smear campaign.

Sukhdev Singh Hundal yesterday said: "I haven't any idea about those irregularities ... I'm a law-abiding person."

Avtar Hans and Narinder Kumar Singla have denied any smear campaign against the Labour candidates.

Mr Singla said he stood for transparency and honesty and condemned any voting irregularities.

Now we have no wish to cast aspersions on any candidate, but we do find it interesting that Daljit Singh seems to have so much to say on this issue, and that Mr Singh has attempted to suggest that people may have "unintentionally" enrolled. It will be interesting to see what conclusions the investigating officers draw.

If there is ANY suggestion of ANY involvement or collusion by ANY candidate, regardless of which side of the politcal divide they come from, that candidate or candidates should be immediately disqualified. Attempts to pervert the electoral system have no place in New Zealand.

UPDATE: Especially for our commenter this morning who just LOVES our originality, here's the video from 3News last night which makes interesting viewing...

Garrett to tell all today?

So says the Herald. Not only is David Garrett tipped to resign from Parliament today, but it sounds as though he is going to spill his guts over all the goings-on of the past few months - read on:

Mr Garrett has given an exclusive interview to the Truth Weekender newspaper, TV3 News reported.

"In the interview Garrett talks about the dark forces within ACT and the `thrill' of securing the birth certificate of the dead infant 26 years ago," the report said.

"He takes a shot at ACT's former deputy Heather Roy and her adviser Simon Ewing-Jarvie."

Mrs Roy lost the deputy leadership last month and Mr Ewing-Jarvie leaked damaging notes she had prepared for her defence, in which she accused party leader Rodney Hide of bullying her.

In the newspaper interview Mr Garrett describes his ordeal over the passport as "bloody awful" and says he "went down in flames" because he was a supporter of Mr Hide, the TV3 report said.

First of all, we can't understand quite how David Garrett could describe obtaining the birth certificate of a dead infant as a "thrill". We reckon that Garrett has a somewhat different idea as to what is exciting than we have! It's not something which he ought to be glorifying, or even trying to justify.

Secondly, we wonder how many more revelations that Act can withstand. Will it really surprise anyone that the party is dysfunctional? We've seen the obvious dissent resulting in the sacking of Heather Roy as deputy leader, followed in short order by the release of the so-called Roy Dossier which dissed Rodney Hide's leadership. Central to it all was Roy's former adviser, Simon Ewing-Jarvie. We can only conclude that Garrett is trying to discredit Roy as a pay-back.

We wonder why he'd bother. Hilary Calvert will enter Parliament to replace Garrett, and it is suggested that she will be more sympathetic to Roy than to Hide. Next cab off the rank should some ill befall another Act MP is Peter Tashkoff, a Hide hater, who in the loose unit stakes makes Catherine Delahunty look almost normal! Do Garret and Act REALLY want to unleash Tashkoff on the electorate?

These are interesting times. FWIW, we reckon that it would be better for Garrett to slip away quietly rather than pour petrol on the fire. Act needs to be able to demonstrate stability, not division if it has any chance whatsoever to survive beyond to 2011 election.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good skills!

How good are the 2010 All Blacks? Pretty darned good, when you watch this ...

Not too bad at all ...

Another interesting Facebook group

There's another Facebook group for discerning readers to join today. It's called Boycott The Contender, and one glance will tell you all you need to know.

Domestic violence in NEVER ok, and we can't understand why the state broadcaster is wasting its time on the promotion of a convicted child-killer. TVNZ has, in our opinion, made an enormous error of judgment in giving Soulan Pownceby star billing on its upcoming programme.

We have joined Boycott The Contender, and urge you to do likewise to send a message to TVNZ that it has recorded an epic fail.

A novel defence of Len Brown

Herald "journalist" Bernard Orsman nailed his colours to the mast some time ago. His stories on the battle for the Auckland Supercity mayoralty have had a constant "Len Brown good; John Banks evil theme to them. He has been Brown's staunchest supporter in the media, aided and abetted no doubt by Team Brown staffer David Lewis, former chief press secretary to Helen Clark.

Orsman has excelled even himself this morning though; under the headline "Ex-mayor's mega credit card bill" he writes:

Sir Barry Curtis put $100,000 of spending on his council credit card in his final term as Manukau City Mayor.

Expenses for the former mayor, who is standing for a seat on the Auckland Council, included $31,938 on entertainment and hospitality, $44,004 on travel and accommodation and $10,683 on the mayoral vehicle.

He also spent $13,230 on other expenses, such as death and other newspaper notices, flowers, suit hire and dry cleaning.

Now apart from the fact that Sir Barry is competing for a bit part in the 2010 elections, his spending is old news. But Orsman them "manages" to put it in context with this bit (our emphasis added):

Sir Barry, 71, who retired in 2007 after 24 years as mayor of the most socially challenged council in New Zealand, yesterday defended the spending, details of which were obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.

The total of $100,139 compares with $16,977 run up by his successor Len Brown in his first 30 months as Manukau mayor.

There you have it dear readers. Team Brown can no longer defend the spending of its profligate mayoral candidate, so it has to get its pet journalist to run the "he isn't as bad as the last guy" defence. We're calling "bullshit" on that.

Bernard Orsman loses any semblance of neutrality with this piece of gutter journalism. Len Brown has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and his point-blank refusal to disclose who he dined with at Volare that fateful night (at Manukau ratepayers' expense) is shameful. It makes him, in our ever-humble opinion, unfit to hold the office of mayor of the Auckland Supercity.

A mighty totara has fallen

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Sir Archie Taiaroa yesterday. We first came to know of Sir Archie in 2005 during the occupation of Whanganui's Moutua Gardens (Pakaitore).

The 79-day occupation was a time of significant tension in the city and its environs. Whilst activists such as Ken Mair and Tariana Turia stole most of the headlines, Sir Archie was the wise counsel behind the scenes, and was instrumental in negeotiating the end of the occupation with then then-Wanganui mayor, the late Chas Poynter.

John Key has described Sir Archie as an inspirational leader. Key notes:

"This is a tragic loss - not just for Whanganui, not just for Maori, but for all New Zealanders.

"Sir Archie stood tall and proud and taught others to do the same.

"Our paths crossed many times, and it was always a privilege. I will miss his wisdom and his humour.

"His passing will be deeply mourned but his significant achievements and his strong and sound leadership will be his legacy.

And this 3News story outlines some of Sir Archie's many achievements. In our humble opinion, one of the most notable was the establishment of a million dollar annual fund for tertiary students to study fisheries management, aquaculture and marine biology. With fisheries playing such a large role in Maori economic development, this was an innovative and positive initiative.

Sir Archie's tangi will be huge, given the many lives he touched. To his widow, Lady Martha and his whanau we say Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui; arohanui.

Haere ra Sir Archie; your passing marks the end of a life well lived.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nasty, nasty, nasty

The Wanganui local body election campaign took a turn for the worse last night. It seems that a local "identity" stumbled upon some photographs of a council candidate, and linked to them on Facebook.

Now this "identity" is neither naive, nor is she a stranger to dirty deeds on Facebook. In fact, she has previously boasted about having hacked into Michael Laws' Facebook account, around about the time that a former mayoral candidate was trying to peddle personal information about Laws to the media.

We reckon that this is nasty, vindictive stuff, and reckon that it should stop forthwith. The "identity" is closely associated with three candidates for the Wanganui District Council; her husband, her daughter and an interloper from Wellington who has been nothing but trouble since he arrived in Wanganui a couple of months ago. There is no way that we could bring ourselves to vote for any of these candidates, even if they were to disassociate themselves from last night's attempted bullying.

A number of candidates for office in Wanganui have appealed for a campaign free of this cowardly kind of behaviour, and we add our voices to the chorus. Sure, there are some strong and polarising personalities seeking office, but that does not justify the kinds of slurs and innuendo which were perpetrated last night.

Phillip Bruce Bannan II

It's taken a while, but we reckon that Phillip Bruce Bannan is now facing exactly the right charges - The Press reports:

A man has been charged with manslaughter after two people were killed in a crash in Christchurch last month.

Phillip Bruce Ray Bannan, 22, unemployed, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday and was remanded in custody.

Bannan, of Akaroa, was initially charged with driving while disqualified after the crash in Fitzgerald Ave on August 26.

Norman Fitt, 73, and Deidre Jordan, 67, died in the crash, which happened after Bannan was briefly pursued by police.

Bannan yesterday was charged with two counts of manslaughter, dangerous driving and driving when more than double the blood-alcohol limit. He remained impassive during yesterday's brief hearing.

Better still, Judge Brian Callaghan has helped to make the streets of Christchurch (upon which we will be driving next week) just a little bit safer, despite an eloquent plea from his counsel:

However, Judge Brian Callaghan said the latest charges were "far too serious to allow bail" and remanded Bannan in custody.

Good. Of course Bannan is innocent until proven guilty, although the charges against him seem pretty cut-and-dried. If found guilty he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, so the sooner that starts, the better in our humble opinion.

Matt Jones; this is how you do it!

A Keeping Stock reader has sent me this link - read on:

A union whose members worked long hours restoring basic Christchurch services after the earthquake has given $10,000 to the city.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) made the donation yesterday.

National secretary Andrew Little presented the cheque with assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell and staff from two of the companies that restored power, water and communications.

Little said the union had received messages of "fraternal support" from unions around the world.

"Our hearts go out to all people affected by this disaster," he said.

"We know that the pain and hardship is not just about what we've seen and heard about in the news media, and that there are thousands of stories, big and small, of difficulty and struggle."

Though we oppose Andrew Little politically, we applaud this move by the EPMU. What a stark contrast it is to the self-serving publicity stunt by Matt Jones of UNITE at the weekend, assisted by Christchurch anarchists from Beyond Resistance.

We hope that Matt Jones takes note, and puts things right. In the meantime, his name is pinned to the Keeping Stock Wall of Shame!

Two Hats becomes Three Hats

Andrew "Two Hats" Little has undergone a change of identity. He is now Andrew "Three Hats" Little - the Taranaki Daily News explains:

In a small room on New Plymouth's Tukapa St Andrew Little last night firmly planted his foot on the first rung of the ladder many think will take him to the country's top job.

The Labour party president was officially confirmed as New Plymouth's candidate for the 2011 general election at the party's Westown headquarters last night, two months after first announcing his plan to stand in the city of his birth.

Many assume winning the New Plymouth seat is the first step on the road to party leadership and eventually the prime minister's office but Mr Little parries away such speculation.

"I am starting at the bottom rung of the ladder. You get into this because you want to be part of a team that is going to shape New Zealand in the next 30 to 40 years and create jobs and lift incomes and that is what I want to do," he said.

He's a busy fellow is our Andrew. He's the general secretary of the EPMU, New Zealand's largest trade union. He's the president of the New Zealand Labour Party. And now his political ambitions begin. We don't know how he does it!

Andrew Little says that he will resign as party president and from the EPMU if he gets elected in New Plymouth. That seems just a little to Jim Andertonish for us, so we'll say the same thing to Andrew Three Hats as we said to Jim; he should put his money where his mouth is, and decide which of his masters that he is going to serve now; the members of the EPMU, the members of the Labour Party, or the voters of New Plymouth.

Y'see, the world hasn't stopped turning since Jonathon Young unseated Harry Duynhoven as the MP for New Plymouth in 2008. Andrew Little will doubtless have a high list placiong next year, and the good folk of New Plymouth might just decide that if Andrew Little cannot make a commitment to them, they won't make a commitment to him. He would be a very foolish chap indeed if he took the support of the New Plymouth public for granted.

The old song says "Wherever I hang my hat; that's my home". Andrew Little needs to decide which of his three hats is the most important, and just where his home will be.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Paul Henry; the People's Choice

Paul Henry cleaned up the People's Choice award at the Qantas Media Awrads on Saturday night, and his acceptance speech was one right out of the box. It was vintage Henry, with not a skerrick of political correctness. No additional words are needed from us, except to warn that language MAY offend - enjoy!

Congratulations Paul, and don't let the buggers shut you up!

: Following on from Paul Henry's time-honoured suggestion when Moustachegate hit the headlines, we've started a group; it's called Die, you c#*t, which anyone who has watched the acceptance speech will understand!

More on the Tour of Shame

Oh dear. According to this story from today's issue of The Press, our good friend Matt Jones might just have stuffed up with his Tour of Shame at the weekend - read on:

A Christchurch business has rejected union claims it told staff to come to work on the day of the Canterbury earthquake.

Unite Union alleged Garden City Bowl staff had been told in "no uncertain terms" to come to work after the 7.1-magnitude quake.

"Staff came in under duress and didn't feel very confident. The company realised they weren't going to make any money that day and sent the workers home. For that whole weekend they received no pay for lost hours," Nelson-Christchurch Unite organiser Matt Jones said.

However, Julie Williamson, group human resources manager, denied those claims.

She said workers were advised not to come to work on Saturday, other than two technical staff who were paid.

Williamson said staff scheduled to work on Saturday were paid and "given the required period of notice" the centre would not open on Sunday.

"Full-time staff were paid for the Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday's scheduled hours being taken as leave. This arrangement is in compliance with employment contracts and the general provisions of the relevant employment law," she said.

We reckon that Comrade Jones should have got his ducks in a row before rushing off to the media to get his anti-employer diatribe published. Then again, why would we be surprised that a trade union official let the facts get in the way of a good story?

Sorry Matt, but it seems that the shame's on you!

UPDATE: Self-described anarchist organisation Beyond Resistance supported the Tour of Shame. We reckon that tells you all you need to know about Matt Jones ... their blog proclaims:

Beyond Resistance is a collective of revolutionary class struggle anarchists in Otautahi/Christchurch, Aotearoa, who have come together in the hope of creating a coherent and organised anarchist presence in our area. Our name reflects our intended approach to struggle — a visible and constructive anarchism that goes beyond mere reaction, both in the workplace and the community. We host a number of events such as film nights and discussion forums, encourage and create spaces for children’s participation in all events, and support various struggles effecting our communities.

'Nuff said!

Local democracy; yeah right

We're delighted to report that local democracy (Labour Party style) is alive, well and living in the Mana electorate. Big News blogs:

Now I have spoken to someone who was at the meeting yesterday. Labour's Local Electorate Committee is controlled by Winnie Laban. She wanted Fa'afoi, so her committee voted for Fa'afoi, even though some may have not supported him. Goff's office wanted Fa'afoi, and his three votes got him. The other vote was decided by the community. That vote was made up of 52 locals and 60 unionists. The locals wanted Pagani. The unionists wanted Fa'afoi. NoneAlthough apparently some of the unionists were locals, there were more unionists than other community members, so they had sway, and they were roped in as union members to represent Goffice and vote Fa'afoi, not to reflect the electorate's Labour membership.

This meant that the community vote was stacked with unionists to make sure Fa'afoi got the nod, meaning that the Local Electorate Committee actually voted against the wishes of the local voters, and stacked the floor so that the community vote also went against the wishes of the community.

No honest person is denying privately that this was a stitch up.Every union vote went to Fa'afoi and about twice as many voting locals wanted Pagani than Fa'afoi.

Big News has been given some very interesting information. Of the 52 local Labour Party members who voted in the selection process, 34 supported Josie Pagani as the candidate; more than twice the 16 local votes that Kri Fa'afoi received. But then the "unique" democracy that is the Labour Party kicked in; 60 union members voted, and to a comrade supported Fa'afoi. The unity of mind and of purpose is commendable, but is entirely to be expected when the president of the Labour Party still wears the hat of general secreatry of New Zealand's largest union.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Labour's head office and leader's office engineered the Mana selection, against the will of Labour Party members in the electorate. We will treat any future protestations by the Labour Party over perceived abuses of the democratic process with the contempt that they deserve.

Kick them out!

So it seems that the Pakistani cricketers have been caught match-fixing again - Cricinfo reports:

The ICC has launched an investigation into the third one-day international between England and Pakistan at The Oval after it received information from a newspaper before the game began alleging that bookies were aware of certain scoring patterns that occurred during the match.

The ICC stated that "a full investigation is warranted", confirming that the information it received in advance about certain scoring patterns during the game appeared to be correct. The information was passed on to the ICC by The Sun, which said it was based on details of calls between a person based in Dubai and a bookie in Delhi.

The ICC, however, clarified that it was premature to suggest anything untoward had occurred during Pakistan's 23-run victory on Friday.

"A source informed The Sun newspaper that a certain scoring pattern would emerge during certain stages of the match and, broadly speaking, that information appeared to be correct," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said.

"We therefore feel it is incumbent upon us to launch a full enquiry into this particular game, although it is worth pointing out at this stage that we are not stating as fact that anything untoward has occurred. Only in the fullness of the investigation can that be established."

This is happening far too frequently. For there AGAIN to be a cloud of suspicion hanging over the Pakistan cricket team just weeks after three players were suspended by the ICC suggests that this problem is endemic, and that it is going to keep on happening.

So we reckon that there is only one alternative remaining for the ICC to consider; to suspend Pakistan from all international cricket for at least twelve months. This suspension must include the ICC World Cup in early 2011. Until then, all matches involving Pakistan will arouse suspicion.

The Pakistan team is due to tour New Zealand at the end of this year. We don't want them here, even though that will affect the Black Caps' World Cup preparation. The financial hit that NZC will take if the Pakistan tour is cancelled will be less than if the tour proceeds, and no-one turns up to watch because "clean" matches cannot be guaranteed.

The operations of bookmakers and betting syndicates have become a blight on cricket, the game we love ahead of all other sports. That Pakistani players have been at the forefront of allegations of match-fixing and more recently spot-fixing in unquestionable. If cricket is to free itself from such allegations, the ICC must now take drastic and decisive action.