Friday, December 31, 2010

This Sporting Life - New Year's Eve edition

It's another free-for-all today dear readers. We are up-country celebrating a family birthday, and whilst we don't have our computer with us, we DO have the iPhone, so we will be checking in and joining the discussion from time to time.

Maybe today you might like to nominate your 2010 sporting highlights, or perhaps even the sportsman or woman who impressed you most this year. If that doesn't grab you, you might want to talk about what you're most looking forward to in 2011.

But this is YOUR forum of course, so chat about whatever sporting matter takes your fancy today; the floor is, as ever, yours ...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Off again ...

We're on holiday in Christchurch, but today, we're heading out of town for a couple of nights. There's a family member celebrating a signifcant milestone tomorrow, so like Canned Heat, we're goin' up the country.

Rest is progressing well, and said rest will be assisted by the decision not to take any laptops with us on our journey. We will be checking in from time to time via the miracle that is the iPhone, and we have pre-loaded things, but other than that, it will be 48 hours of blog silence.

We'll be back next year; enjoy your New Year celebrations, as we will, and you have only yourself to blame if you begin 2011 feeling like a chewed Mintie!

Stupid is as stupid does

This must rank as one of the most rank pieces of stupidity we've read of all year; the Dom-Post reports:

A thirteen-year-old boy woken up to drive drinking guests home from an all-night wedding party could face serious criminal charges after he crashed, killing a teenage relative.

Mary-Lee Huata, 17, was travelling home from the wedding after-party at a nearby marae when the Toyota Hilux truck she was in crashed in Putere Rd, Raupunga, 7km south of Wairoa, about 5.30am on Monday.

Her death took the holiday road toll to three.

A relative told The Dominion Post he understood that the 13-year-old who was behind the wheel was Mary-Lee's cousin. "All I know was the young boy was woken up to drive them. There were four to five still drinking."

The group had been at a Boxing Day party after Mary-Lee's mother was married on Christmas Day.

Sergeant Aubrey Ormond of Wairoa said the boy could face serious criminal charges despite his age. Police would investigate why he was behind the wheel – including whether or not he was the only person sober enough to drive. Serious crash investigators would also consider weather conditions, speed and other possible factors in the crash.

We hope that as well as considering charges against the 13-year-old, police charge whoever made the incredibly stupid decision to let the child drive. We cannot imagine what must have possessed the adults involved, apart perhaps from the demon drink and a certain herb which grows locally.

Stupid is as stupid does.

An interesting celebration ...

We don't go to dance clubs, so we'd never heard of the Sprinkler Dance before yesterday, when the English cricket team led by Graham Swann put on the moves for the Barmy Army - judge for yourself:

We doubt that the Royal Ballet's performers are quaking in their boots. But if any team had the right to celebrate yesterday, it was the England cricket team. We congratulate them on a commanding victory at Melbourne; never before in its history has the Australian cricket team been twice defeated by an innings in a home series. The victory at Melbourne was an absolute pasting.

The Australian team for Sydney will be announced today, and we reckon that heads will roll. It seems as though Ricky Ponting will be "rested" due to his finger injury, and Ryan Harris is out of all cricket for several months. But surely Australia will have to include a spinner for Sydney, so that could be bad news for an out-of-form Ben Hilfenhaus. Likewise, we doubt that Phillip Hughes will be looking forward to the announcement today.

And we can't leave this match without reference to the reaction in the Aussie media today. Melbourne's The Age leads with the headline England dances on Australia's Ashes grave and comments:

It was midday. Overhead, the sky was blue, cloudless and Australian, but falling away to two vastly different horizons. Australia could not distinctly see even next week. Ryan Harris was at that moment under the surgeon's knife, and Ricky Ponting just back from hospital and waiting for a specialist's interpretation of X-rays of his broken finger. In every sense, there was so much remedial work to be done.

The team for Sydney will be announced today. It must show changes, in personnel and formation. Expect at the very least to see Usman Khawaja.

And the Sydney Morning Herald is no less scathing. Under the headline Rotten to the core; hard truths must be faced and tough changes made Peter Roebuck writes:

DEFEAT can be instructive. The Ashes have been lost, or rather, not regained, and once the sporting anguish has passed the cricket community can put on its thinking cap and plan its response. Strong sides expose fault lines in their opponents and ought to be thanked for their contribution.

No cricket community searching for leaders, bereft of opening batsmen, lacking spinners, burdened with injured fast bowlers or even an internal candidate for the ICC presidency, can be complacent about its prospects. The fall has been quick but was a long time building.

It's not the losses but their size that indicate the parlous state of the game in Australia. Two innings defeats are hard to swallow. That both matches were effectively lost in the first hour was frustrating and indicated that England was a strong frontrunner and Australia's batting lacked technique and tenacity.

Roebuck is right. From the moment that Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Gilchrist departed the scene, the Australians have flattered to deceive. Australian cricket used to boast about its depth. That depth is no longer apparent, and the Australian cricketers are mere cricketing mortals just now, not the unbeatable superstars of just a few years ago. How the mighty are fallen!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Ashes Caption Contest

England has retained The Ashes for the first time since 1986/87. That's such a momentous occasion, in our ever-humble opinion, that it calls for a very special caption contest.

You know how it works, so give it your best shot (but don't be TOO hard on the Australians, who are doing it tough!)...

Conceding defeat

The Ashes series is all but over. Australia will resume batting on day four at 6/169, still a massive 246 runs away from making England even bat a second time. A devastating aspell of bowling from Tim Bresnan just after the tea interval ripped the heart out of the Australian batting as they plunged from 1/99 to 4/104 taking the key wickets of Shane Watson (54), Ricky Ponting (20) and Michael Hussey (0).

Even the Australians realise now that their chance of regaining the Ashes has gone, and that they are facing the ignomany of a home series defeat; Cricinfo spoke to Watson - read on:

Shane Watson says it will be "shattering" and "horrendous" to be part of the first Australian side in 24 years to finish a home Ashes series without the urn. The hosts, who last lifted the prize in 2007, are only four wickets from a defeat that will ensure England retain the tiny trophy that means so much.

"It's not very good, it's horrendous, to be totally honest," Watson said after the side finished day three at 6 for 169, still 246 from making England bat again. "Going into this Ashes series we knew how important it would be to win the Ashes because Australia hasn't lost the Ashes in 24 years."

England have two days to take the four wickets needed to earn a 2-1 lead and while the contest could finish level in Sydney next week, that will be no consolation for the local men. "The most important thing is winning that urn back," Watson said. "Obviously we will do everything we can to restore pride and draw the series, but the most important thing was winning that little urn and we haven't been able to do it."

All the remains now is for England to wrap up the Australian tail, and although Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin may offer some resistance, there is little to follow. The English team and the Barmy Army will soon be in celebration mode, we reckon. But we are surprised that Watson has run up the white flag so soon; has he forgotten Ian Botham's heroics at Headingly in 1981?

So what of the Sydney test? Will the Australian selectors make sweeping changes, starting at the top? Ponting ends this match with a series total to date of just 113 runs at 16.14, almost half of which came in a meaningless second innings at Brisbane after England had saved the game. Michael Clarke is the obvious successor, but his numbers are little better than Ponting's; 148 runs at 21.14. Compare those with their English opposites; Jonathan Trott has 445 runs at 111.25 and Kevin Pietersen has 324 and 64.80. Both have big hundreds to their credit.

This will be the first time that Australia has failed to win an Ashes series at home since 1986/87. Australians are not especially tolerant of losers, and Ponting, later today, will have led Australia to three Ashes defeats in the last four series. We cannot help but wonder if this is the end of the road for a great Australian cricketer, who maybe hung on just a season too long. Is this photo to be Ricky Ponting's epitaph?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

They're not wrong

The earthquake which struck Christchurch on 4 September was reportedly terrifying; we don't know, because we were safely ensconsed in the North Island. But the quake/aftershock which hit here at 10.37am on Boxing Day was frightening enough for us. And so we were interested to read this in The Press this morning:

Violent ground-shaking in central Christchurch during the Boxing Day earthquake exceeded that of the September 4 quake.

GNS Science strong-motion sensors show peak ground movements – either from side to side or up and down – during Sunday's magnitude-4.9 quake at 10.30am reached 48 per cent of the acceleration of gravity at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Christchurch Hospital motion peaked at 25 per cent of the acceleration of gravity and reached 22 per cent at Christ Church Cathedral.

During the magnitude-7.1 quake on September 4, peak ground accelerations recorded around the central city were between 15 and 20 per cent that of gravity.

Geonet manager Ken Gledhill, of GNS Science, said the high ground accelerations in Sunday's shake, along with its shallowness and proximity to the city centre, explained the extra damage to buildings.

While maximum ground-shaking in the area had been lower during the September 4 quake, it had lasted much longer and therefore caused more damage, he said. The shaking had not lasted long enough on Sunday to cause liquefaction.

Most of the quakes we felt on Sunday were of short duration, but the 4.9 one which hit at 10.37am was as big as any we have felt in our lifetime. It's not an experience that we are keen to repeat any time soon.

We haven't ventured into the central city since Sunday although we may do today. Everything has gone quiet again, but now we are starting to understand the uncertainty and stress that Cantabrians have lived with since September 4th, not knowing nwhen the next quake will come from, how big it will be, and whether it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for buildings already weakened by 4085 earthquakes since the Big One.

Captain Grumpy

Alan Border was the first Australian cricket captain to be given the nickname of Captain Grumpy. After his performance yesterday, Ricky Ponting has assumed the mantle - Cricinfo reports:

Ricky Ponti ng has been fined 40% of his match fee (approx Aus$5,400) and rebuked by the ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalleafter finally cracking under the strain of impending Ashes defeat on the second day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. His angry discussions with an ice-cool Aleem Dar, early in the second session, were the day's major flashpoint, as he picked a series of arguments with the umpires and Kevin Pietersen after the batsman correctly survived a caught-behind referral.

The umpires reviewed footage at the close of play before filing a report to the ICC, in which Ponting pleaded guilty to a Level 1 offence under article 2.1.3 (h) of the code of conduct, which relates to "arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the umpire about his decision.

"Ricky's actions as captain of his country were unacceptable," said Madugalle in an ICC statement. "A captain is expected to set the example and not get involved in a prolonged discussion with the on-field umpires and question their decision. While pleading guilty to the charge, Ricky understood that the discussion went far too long. He apologised for his action and stated that he has nothing but respect for the umpires and his on-field actions were not intended to show disrespect to Aleem Dar or Tony Hill."

We were wattching the cricket at the time of this incident, and as former umpires ourselves reckon that both Aleem Dar and third umpire Marais Erasmus got the decision 100% right. Ponting's actions, and those of Aussie fast bowler Peter Siddle (who wasn't even the bowler denied) were over the top, and unacceptable.

The pressure is getting to Ricky Ponting; we have no doubt whatsoever of that. The Ashes slipped further from Australia's grasp yesterday as England's first innings lead grew to 346 with five wickets still in hand. Yesterday and today will probably be the best batting conditions of the test, as the Melbourne pitch traditionally wears in the latter stages of matches there.

That does not excuse Ponting's petulant outburst yesterday. We were taught from an early age to accept an umpire's decision even if we agreed with it. Ten years of umpiring cricket to a reasonably high level taught us that umpiring is a difficult craft; yesterday the umpires were spot on with the Pietersen decision. Ponting's overreaction was a blight on a noble game, and reminded us of that day more than 20 years ago when another international captain lost the plot:

Father Time is beckoning to Captain Grumpy. It's time for a change at the top of Australian cricket.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Punter Ponting's last stand?

When England won The Ashes in a pulsating series in England last year we mused that perhaps it was time for Ricky Ponting to stand aside from the Australian captaincy. He was, after all, a two-time Ashes loser in England, and that's not the Aussie way.

Ponting has held on, but surely now must be on the shakiest of ground; Christchurch-like shaky! England was totally dominant on day one of the Boxing Day test in Melbourne in front of more than 84,000 fans. We love this intro to Cricinfo's summary of the day's events:

It was meant to be Boxing Day, not Boxing Australia Around the Ears Day. Within three sessions of complete England dominance at the MCG, they moved to within touching distance of retaining the Ashes by dismissing Australia for 98 and passing their total with no wickets down, leaving Ricky Ponting requiring a late Christmas miracle to avoid leading Australia to three Ashes series failures.

Chris Tremlett and James Anderson collected four wickets each, backing up Andrew Strauss's decision to send the hosts in, before Strauss and Alastair Cook showed that with discipline, batting wasn't that hard on a pitch with a little juice in it. The day could not possibly have gone better for England, who finished at 0 for 157 with Strauss on 64, Cook on 80, a hefty first-innings advantage in prospect and a 2-1 series lead on the horizon.

We wrote the Australians off after the first day of the Perth test, and had to eat our words. We will say with confidence this morning that Australia will NOT get out of this sticky situation with a win. The best that they can hope for in the Boxing Day test is a grimly-fought draw which would allow them to head to Sydney on level terms, but they are already so far off the pace in this match that even that is stretching one's imagination to the limit.

The English were totally dominant yesterday, and to have a 59 run first innings lead already without having lost a wicket gives them a huge advantage. England can bat and bat and bat over the next couple of days, and play themselves into an invincible position.

So what of Ricky Ponting? He has scored a meagre 93 runs in the series to date in seven digs, and averages a mere 15.50 for the series. But 51 of those runs were scored in a meaningless second innings at Brisbane. That leaves a grand total of 42 runs from his other six innings in the Ashes of 2010-11. He looks like a man under immense pressure, and is playing like it. The brash, confident, swaggering Ponting of old is Missing in Action.

The dilemma for Australia is who to replace him with. Michael Clarke is seen as the heir apparent but he too is out of nick with just 135 runs so far in six innings, 80 of which came in one innings at Adelaide. For once Ausralian cricket, which used to pride itself in its depth of talent, looks very ordinary.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

UPDATED - A rude awakening ...

UPDATE: There's been another BIG aftershock this morning, and there are reports of further damage in the central city. The latest one was a 4.9 magnitude, 12km deep, and was centred near Opawa out on the eastern side of town. We lost our power in Ferndalton for half an hour. Riccarton Mall has been evacuated, which has put the kibbosh on Mrs Inventory's planned visit to the Boxing Day sales.

All's gone quiet now, but the peace of the day has been shattered, and everyone is on edge again. We're starting to get something of an appreciation of what the Christchurch whanau has gone through since September 4th. And as we type, there's another little rumble and another little shake, folowed by another ...


Mother Nature hasn't finished with the Village of the Damned. We were roused from our post-Christmas Dinner slumber at 2am this morning with a short but very sharp jolt which rattled the room.

We've been on the Canterbury Quake Live website (lots more info than Geonet) and discovered that this was a magnitude 4.2 event, the biggest for a wee while, and at a depth of just 5km. Interestingly, it was centred just a few kilometers from where our head had been resting in slumber; CQL says it was centred under 230 Antigua Street in the central city.

Christchurch and Canterbury are still very much in recovery mode. We visited friends on Friday night who are still wrangling with the insurance company over the cost of repairs. Parts of their house are unaffected; other parts are twisted, and the foundations will need replacement. Their primary concern is to get a new roof before the end of summer because the old one now leaks. Their story is but one of thousands.

So whilst last night's jolt was enough to get our attention, it was nothing compared to that moment in the early hours of September 4th. We can continue to reflect on the miracle that no-one died in the Canterbury earthquake, and be eternally grateful.

Christian Music Sunday - 26 December 2010

You can thank the good MacDoctor for reminding us of this song; quite how it flew under our radar this Christmas is anyone's guess. The good MacDoc has confirmed our case of wooly thinking as the year drew to an end!

Anyway, it's still Christmas Day in many parts of the world as we type this, so we hope that readers mich be touched by this offering courtesy of the Newsboys - enjoy:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The reason for the Season ...

The Birth of Jesus
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Luke 2:1-20 (The Message)

It's over 2000 years since the miracle which was the birth of Christ. It was an event of such significance that it divided history. The birth, death and resurrection of Christ and his divinity are the essence of the faith that we subscribe to.

May you know the love and peace of Christ today and always, and may God bless you richly on this most special of days.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A much-needed holiday

We've had a year that in many respects we want to forget. We've worked too many hours to be healthy, we've had a number of issues which have sucked the life-blood out of us, we've battled ill-health at times and we've wanted to just flag it all away more than once.

Forunately we're survivors, me, myself and I, not to mention the redoubtable Mrs Inventory. We've aleady put a few changes in motion to ensure that 2011 will be a year to remember. But that's still ahead of us.

Right now, we're on holiday. Work will take a back seat for the next ten days or so whilst we recharge our batteries in ever sense; physically, emotionally and even ( and perhaps most importantly) spiritually. The tank is empty, and has been for a wee while now; a few days of pampering with the wider whanau will be just the caper.

We might blog a bit while we're on holiday, but then again we may not; it will depend on what we are doing, how we are feeling, and whether there are places to go and people to see. But we don't reckon that there will be many of you lurking around the blogosphere over the festive season anyway, and that is as it should be!

Merry Christmas from the Inventory whanau to you and yours. May you be truly blessed this Christmas season.

This Sporting Life - Christmas Eve edition

It's Friday again, and this is the 52nd edition of This Sporting Life since we returned to the blogosphere on New Year's Day last year. We just thought that you'd like to know that, not that we've been counting!

It's open slather today, as we are driving south; what sporting events are you most looking forward to over the Christmas period? Is it the Boxing Day test at Melbourne? The Sydney-Hobart yacht race? What about the first Black Caps match under John Wright's influence?

The floor is yours; have yourself a sporty little Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

He's kidding; right?

We blogged yesterday about the horrific abi=use of a nine year old West Auckland girl. Her parents were remanded in custody yesterday, which is exactly as it should be. However we could not believe this, in today's Herald (our emphasis added):

The 9-year-old girl allegedly tortured by her parents never wants to see her mother and father again - and the feeling is mutual, a court has heard.

The couple appeared in the Waitakere District Court yesterday to face 36 charges and were remanded in custody by Judge Lisa Tremewan, despite previously being free on bail.

However, both were granted name suppression to protect the identity of the girl and her younger brother, aged 7.

In seeking bail for the 32-year-old father, defence lawyer Brenda Donald said her client would not try to make contact with his daughter.

"[The daughter] says she doesn't want to see her mother and father again. He says the feeling is mutual because of what he says is the damage she has done to the family."

Words fail us; quite literally.

No Chris; it's YOUR fault

Here we go again:

Independent MP Chris Carter is blaming the media for ruining his summer holiday after the itinerary for his taxpayer-subsidised trip to Sri Lanka was leaked.

Mr Carter and his partner, Peter Kaiser, were to leave on December 29 flying business class to Colombo, via Singapore, at a cost of $13,902 – 75 per cent of which was to be paid by the taxpayer.

Details of the trip were leaked to TV3, which said Mr Carter and Mr Kaiser were due to holiday with British MP Ben Bradshaw and his partner.

Mr Carter was not keen to discuss details of the trip when contacted last night. "We have cancelled it. We've lost the deposit. We've cancelled. We're not going. Ok, fair enough? You guys have had yet another victory. So thanks, that's the end of the discussion."

He said he was being unfairly targeted and many other MPs were using the travel perk to take holidays.

"But we'll never know, will we? Only me. You would wonder why my travel's been leaked and nobody else's. I wonder why that was."

He said the trip was booked "months and months ago", before Speaker Lockwood Smith axed MPs' travel perks, and was within the rules at the time.

Mr Carter has accused Dr Smith's office of leaking the details of his trip.

We'd like to offer Chris Carter some earthy advice, but 'tis the season to be jolly, so we'll bite our tongue for the moment. But he REALLY doesn't get it, does he ...

So he should ...

We don't have very much sympathy at all for this young thug, unlike the Dom-Post - check this out:

Late at night in prison, Japhet Simiona thinks about the senior constable he allegedly attacked with a machete and hopes he is all right, the 18-year-old's sister says.

Remanded in prison on an attempted murder charge, the youth talked to his 23-year-old sister Debra Graham over the phone, she said yesterday.

"He said he gets worse at night. At night, because it gets so quiet, he thinks about the cop ... and how the cop's doing and thinking about his safety and hoping he's all right."

Waiouru Senior Constable Bruce Mellor was attacked with a machete after he pulled over a stolen vehicle near Taihape on December 11. He suffered gashes to his head, a broken jaw, multiple skull fractures and a finger on his left hand was nearly cut off.

Mrs Graham said it was hard for her and her extended family to watch her brother when he appeared in Whanganui Youth Court yesterday.

"He may be 18 and they may look at it like he's a young man now, but he's still my younger brother and it's hard to see him in there ... We're all behind him. He's got all our support."

He had gestured his love to them before he was led out of the dock, clenching his fist and beating it against his heart, she said.

"His love goes out to all of us."

It's just a shame that some of Japhet Simiona's love could not have been extended to Senior Constable Bruce Mellor whom he is alleged to have attempted to murder. Call us cynical, but we suspect that Simiona's sleepless nights will ease with the passage of time, and especially with the status he will enjoy in prison of having almost taken a cop out.

In the meantime, here's a reminder to Simiona of his handiwork. We hope that this does not disrupt his contemplation too much. In the meantime our thoughts are with Bruce Mellor and his family as they come to terms with such a senseless, mindless act of violence.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The more things change ...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. 3News reports:

Independent MP Chris Carter has had to cancel his Christmas holiday after 3 News learned he had been planning to have it paid by the taxpayer.

Mr Carter and his partner managed to book an international holiday using the MPs' travel perk right before Parliament's Speaker, Lockwood Smith, banned MPs from taking private travel with public money.

Chris Carter's partner Peter Kaiser arrived at Parliament this morning to help tidy up a few loose ends but he didn't want to talk about a Christmas trip the pair had planned.

Mr Carter and Mr Kaiser were booked to leave Auckland on December 29, flying business class via Singapore to Colombo and Sri Lanka.

The estimated cost of their flights is $13,902 – 90 percent picked up by the taxpayer.

The pair were planning on holidaying with British MP Ben Bradshaw and his partner but an hour after 3 News confronted Mr Kaiser, Mr Carter sent a text saying the trip was cancelled and he wasn't going to front.

It seems that Chris Carter is a slow learner, and that his case of entitleitis has flared up again. The public has had enough of MP's from ALL corners of the House sucking on the public teat, and even though what Carter was proposing is within the rules - just - surely he must understand the public firestorm which is now erupting.

We don't begrudge Chris Carter and Peter Kaiser a holiday. But their joint income is far in excess of ours, and surely it wouldn't hurt them to dip into their own pockets just this once. For the record, we are off on holiday tomorrow, and we've paid for it ourselves as have hundreds of thousands of other New Zealand families. We've certainly never booked a business class flight.

Are we jealous? Quite possibly. Are we angry? Absolutely! Chris Carter, and all our MP's need to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask if they are giving us value for money. In Carter's case, we reckon that the answer is a no-brainer.

A sad case gets worse

The case of the 9-year-old girl who had "allegedly" been abused by her parents in West Auckland is terribly, terribly sad. But this morning's Herald has revelations which are even more deeply disturbing; not only has the child been sexually abused while in CYFS care, but systematic abuse went unchecked, despite the efforts of the girl's teacher, who has e-mailed the PM - check this out:

In her email, the teacher said she felt powerless to do anything to protect the girl and keep her safe.

"This child has come to school with black eyes, a swollen face, swollen nose, bruises, abrasions and infected wounds that have all been explained as her being 'clumsy and accident prone'.

"However she is only accident prone at home, she has not had a so-called accident while at school ...

"Why do we have to wait for a child to be seriously injured or killed before action is taken?"

The teacher said the emotional toll of seeing the girl suffer all year was "extreme". She had resigned from her job because she felt her concerns were not taken seriously.

"A young innocent child has suffered unimaginable pain that at her age she should not have suffered," she told Mr Key. "Please don't sit back and do nothing."

We can only admire this teacher for being an advocate for the young girl, and we cannot even begin to imagine how she must feel now that the extent of the abuse has come to light. We hope that she's not too hard on herself; it aseems as though she was the girl's only friend and advocate.

But something has gone drastically wrong in "the system". We hope that Paula Bennett makes good on her promise to get to the bottom of this and sort it out, because this has happened under her watch, and the buck stops with her. As far as we are concerned, the safety of children and their right to be protected overrides any political affiliation we might have.

The alleged abusers appear in Court again today. We hope that the learned judge has a change of heart and remands them in custody over Christmas; this is, in our opinion, a case so severe that bail should not be an option. In the meantime we are praying for an anonymous 9-year-old girl who has suffered sustaimed and systemic abuse; in particular we pray that she can find peace this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The ACC stocktake

The report on the government's stocktake of ACC has been released, and there's been one decision which should come as no surprise whatsoever - the Herald reports:

ACC Minister Nick Smith has confirmed the Government will move to allow private insurers to compete with the Accident Compensation Corporation for a share of New Zealand's work place insurance market.

Dr Smith said the "in principle" decision would enable employers to continue purchasing workplace insurance from the ACC or from a registered insurer.

"This policy of choice is the best way to put pressure on ACC to provide effective and efficient workplace accident cover," he said.

"This is a significant and complex reform that we will be advancing in a careful and considered way."

The decision was announced today following the Government's consideration of a "stocktake" of the scheme begun late last year.

Opening up the work account to competition had been widely signalled, but it's bound to provoke a tidal wave of criticism to those on the left who believe that the state has to do everything. We disagree with that philosophy.

There will now be a period of public consultation, buit the government has signalled that this will be an election issue - read on:

The Government would consult the public on the plan next year with work including measures to ensure ACC did not cross subsidise or compete unfairly with private insurers, and protections to ensure all workers continued to receive cover.

"Final decisions and legislation on introducing choice will occur after the 2011 election and will be subject to a mandate from the public."

We reckon that this is good news, and that the government is wise to have signalled its intentions more than a year out from the 2011 election. Labour and the Greens will find it hard to sustain their "privatisation by stealth" argument over that period. National has honoured its 2008 election pledge to take a long, hard look at ACC which is a major consumer of taxpayer dollars.

Footnote: For those who are interested, there's a Q&A here that gives plenty of background into the decvisions which have been announced today.

Poor Mark; yeah right!

The Herald has declared war on Mark Hotchin and others involved in collapsed finance company Hanover. We're happy to be a blog-soldier, because we reckon that the way that Hotchin and his mate Eric Watson behaved during, but moreso after the collapse is reprehensible. This morning's Herald story reports:

Former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin wants a $7000-a-week allowance to maintain his lifestyle on Australia's Gold Coast.

The Securities Commission gave the Hanover co-founder a $1000-a-week allowance after freezing his New Zealand assets.

But that's not enough for Mr Hotchin, and the Herald understands he has sought to increase that limit to between $6000 and $7000 so he can pay for rent, living costs, a hire car, and private school fees for three children.

A High Court legal meeting will be held today.

Mr Hotchin's lawyer, Bruce Stewart, QC, said last week that his client was supporting seven people, and could not live on $1000.

It's not just the Herald either. A Facebook page has started up under the by-line of Handover. We gather that it is the brainchild of a former Hanover investor who has fought a losing battle to try and get their money back. If, like us, your find Hotchin's PDW's (public displays of wealth) offensive when so many of his investors are on the bones of their bums, you might like to join this page, and send a message to Mr Hotchin.

And kindred blogger Brunette at the Roarprawn blog has some budgeting advice for the struggling Mr Hotchin. We somehow doubt that he will heed the advice however.

When the Securities Commission's decision to freeze Hotchin's assets was announced, there was some thought that the horse had already bolted, and that Hotchin had enough secreted away. It seems now that that was not the case, and that Hotchin has indeed been affected by the Securities Commission's freeze. In that case, we applaud the regulatory body for taking action to cause Hotchin to feel some of the pain that those who made him wealthy are feeling.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big changes in New Zealand cricket

Mark Greatbatch has paid the price for the New Zealand cricket team's miserable limited-overs summer. New Zealand Cricket has announced some significant changes this afternoon - the Herald reports:

John Wright has been named the new Black Caps cricket coach while Daniel Vettori has been axed as a selector, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced at a media conference in Auckland this afternoon.

Wright replaces Mark Greatbatch as coach following the Black Caps 11 successive one-day losses, including clean sweeps in Bangladesh and India, in recent months.

Greatbatch will stay on as a national selector and work as a batting coach within NZC's high performance programme.

The changes come as part of a wide-ranging review into the side's recent poor performances.

Other changes include a new independent selection panel featuring Lance Cairns, Greatbatch and incumbent head of selectors Glenn Turner.

Wright will assume his new role immediately after being offered it yesterday. His contract ends after the West Indies tour in 2012.

Change was inevitable, and probably the biggest change is that Daniel Vettori's influence has been diluted. He has been dropped as a selector, and we reckon that's a positive move. He can now concentrate wholly on captaining the side and producing results on the field.

The appointment of John Wright is both welcome and overdue. Wright was a doughty competitor who gave his guts for his team, and put a very high proce on his wicket. We can but hope that he can get that attitude to rub off on the New Zealand batsmen.

There may yet be something to look forward to during the Summer of Cricket. Then again, we've had our hopes dashed on a pretty regular basis over the years. At least there's now a bit more spice in the upcoming Pakistani series.

Old habits die hard ...

The Herald reports:

Elizabeth Hurley has reportedly dumped Shane Warne just a week after their relationship was made public.

The former cricketer - who spent two nights with 45-year-old Elizabeth earlier this month while he was in London shooting for a television show - is believed to have infuriated the British beauty by sending sexy text messages to another woman at the same time he was romancing her, leading to her calling off their romance.

According to reports, Shane began texting married business owner Adele Angeleri after meeting her in Melbourne with the hope of using a jacket from her shop in an advertisement.

Some things never change. There must be days when Shane Warne curses the day that text messaging was invented!

But there's an up-side; at least the dumping frees Warnie up for a call-up to the Australian cricket team if the Ockers need a secret weapon for the final test of the Ashes series in Sydney after New Year ...

Very good

We don't reckon that Guy Body, the Herald's alternate cartoonist is quite up there with our personal fave Rod Emmerson. But he's produced a ripper of a 'toon this morning.

So this one's for all those who think that we can't say a critical word about John Key and National; Body has very cleverly honed in on the problem that the government MUST address, and quickly - enjoy:

Slow off the mark ..

Whether it's the muggy weather and clammy nights, the prospect of an extremely busy week or whether it's something completely different, we're off to a slow start this morning. That's a bit of a worry becuase we have a stack of work to do before we can retreat towards the end of the week, and put 2010 behind us.

Christmas has crept up on us, and we suspect that we won't be alone in that regard. Whether it's the fact that Christmas Day this year falls on a Saturday and that there is no abbreviated week beforehand we're not sure; it may just be that we have been too busy to notice.

Anyway, we'll soon be up to speed; it's a case of having to! And we reckon that we'll be up to speed with a happier disposition than our favourite Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin who didn't seem to be to impressed about being tracked down; he's feeling the heat in more ways than one; quelle domage!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The rain continues ...

It's still a bit premature to say that there won't be a drought around Wanganui this summer, but the last 72 hours has gone some way towards ensuring that.

The rain began on Thursday night, and has been pretty persistent since then. The early rain softened the ground, and the steady rain which has followed will be having a very beneficial effect. Best of all are the warm temperatures, and the almost total absence of any wind. We drove home from Palmerston North this morning, and there's a fresh green tinge to the countryside.

Let's hope that significant rain has fallen in other areas that needed it, especially Northland and the Waikato. Now; can we put in an order for calm weather for a ferry trip south on Thursday, and fine weather right across the country for Christmas Day and Boxing Day?

Updated - Egg; meet face

So much for our bold prediction that the Ashes series was as good as over. An insptred spell of swing bowling by Mitchell Johnson, and a marvellous knock from Micheal "Mr Cricket" Hussey has left Australia in total control at Perth.

As far as the series goes it's a good thing. The teams will go to Melbourne and the traditional Boxing Day Test (take note NZC) level-pegging, and it should be a fantastic occasion; a full house at "The G", and everything to play for.

We'll make this prediction now though, at the risk of our face resembling a three-egg omelette. England will play two spinners in the New Year test at Sydney, and in Graham Swann and Monty Panesar they have the winning of the Ashes, unless Shane Warne unretires. There's still some great test cricket to be played, and it's a great watch.

UPDATE: 49 minutes was all it took for the Australians to wrap up a comprehensive and well-deserved victory on day four at Perth. The Ashes series is tied at one match apiece, but Australia still has to win at least one of the two remaining matches to regain cricket's most revered trophy.

Christian Music Sunday - 19 December 2010

In one week's time, Christmas and all the busyness that goes with it will be over for another year. Many of us will have eaten too much, drunk too much and spent too much, but for what? Will we remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas?

We certainly hope to, and we've found today's song to be helpful. Sung by Kutless, it asks a very pertinent question in this season of goodwill to all men and women; what is Christmas without Christ? The birth of Christ was an event of such significance that it split time, and that's what we will celebrate this Christmas. We hope that you too will be blessed by the miracle of Christmas this year:

Have a great week!

Oh dear ...

It's a tough life being Mark Hotchin all right; when even the cartoonists AND Santa Claus are against you!

More brilliance from the pen of Rod Emmerson - enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A new monicker for Phil T?

Labour MP Phil Twyford has rather unkindly been given the nickname of Shadow Minister for the Homeless. This is of course a reference to his failure to be able to secure a nomination for an electorate seat. He should have had the Mt Albert nomination, until Labour realised that meant that Judith Tizard would have returned from the list. He dipped out in the nomination for Auckland Central, despite being Labour's Supercity frontperson. To add insult to injury, he then missed on on Labour's Waitakere nomination.

Today, he's trying again - the Herald reports:

Labour Party president Andrew Little says its next candidate in Te Atatu will have to repair damage done to it by ousted MP Chris Carter to stop the seat slipping into National's hands.

The party will select its candidate today. After a threat from Mr Carter to stand against the party as an independent if his preferred candidate, Phil Twyford, does not win that selection, Mr Little said Mr Carter was now irrelevant and any remaining local support was "dwindling rapidly".

He said Labour was already damaged by Mr Carter's behaviour.

We don't know whether such an endorsement from Chris Carter is a good thing for Phil Twyford's chances of fourth time lucky, or whether it will be the kiss of death! We guess though that it suggests that Twyford is one of the Carter Seventeen, which may indeed have grown is size after the latest revelations about Phil Goff's housing arrangements.

He has some valuable union support too - read on:

Mr Twyford has the support of at least three unions with voting rights - the Service and Food Workers' Union, the Maritime Union and the Amalgamated Workers Union.

Mr Little is standing aside from the selection panel because Mr McCracken was an EPMU organiser about five years ago. However, Mr Little said yesterday that the union had not endorsed any candidate.

The EPMU will be stung by its defeat in the Manurewa candidate selection where its preferred candidate, Jerome Mika, was defeated. The EPMU will be better prepared this time around, and the SFWU will have a fight on its hands to get Twyford over the line.

The big pity of it all is that Labour's rank and file members in Te Atatu will have little or no say in who is selected as their candidate for the 2011 election. But that's the Labour Way, and we guess that whoever is chosen will have to live with that. In some ways we hope that Phil Twyford gets the nod; he was effective in leading Labour's opposition to the Supercity. But wouldn't it be fun if Chris Carter became a player again?

UPDATE: It is indeed fourth time lucky for Phil Twyford

They're coming after Eric too

The news gets better for investors in failed finance company Hanover, who may finally be about to see justice done on their behalf - the Herald reports:

Jetsetting businessman Eric Watson, the co-founder of failed Hanover Finance and United Finance, is in the sights of the Securities Commission and a lawyer representing desperate investors.

The commission and Tim Rainey, a lawyer for Hanover investors, were both looking at Mr Watson after the regulatory authority this week froze the New Zealand assets of fellow co-founder Mark Hotchin.

"Eric Watson is a promoter of some of the securities issued by Hanover Group, and he would be one of the people liable if the offer documents contained untrue statements," a Securities Commission spokeswoman said.

The Hanover collapse was bad enough. But what far, far worse in our humble opinion was the ability of Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson to simply walk away from the Hanover wreck, and to flaunt their wealth to those who had lost, in some cases, their life's savings.

Let us make it clear again. We have never knowingly invested in a finance company, nor are we ever likely to. To the best of our knowledge, none of our whanau or our friends lost money to Hanover. We do not have a vested interest. We simply believe that it is grossly unfair that the likes of Hotchin and Watson can extract money from investors to fuel their personal wealth, then have no obligation to those investors when the shit hits the fan as it did in Hanover's case.

That is why we are delighted to see the Securities Commission and the Serious Fraud Office now involved in investigating Hanover. The investors may never get their money back, but if shonky business practices are exposed, and those repsonsible are held to account, they will feel that there has been an element of justice, whatever the cost.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hotchin does it tough

Oh dear:

Former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin says he can't live on $1000 a week.

That's the amount the Securities Commission will allow him, after getting a High Court order last Friday, freezing all his New Zealand assets. The order included his bank accounts and $13.5 million property at Boatshed Bay on Waiheke Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf and a $30m yet-to-be-completed luxury home on Orakei's Paritai Drive, one of Auckland's most expensive streets.

The commission's $1000-a-week allowance - the same amount the Aorangi Securities statutory managers have given embattled Timaru businessman Alan Hubbard and his wife Jean - is expected to cover legal costs, rent and mortgage payments, and food and other household expenses.

Hubbard, worth a reputed $550 million earlier this year, has said that was more than he and his wife had ever spent on themselves and he has reportedly used some of that allowance to support any of his investors now in financial distress.

Hotchin claims to be supporting seven people and can't live on that amount, says his lawyer Bruce Stewart QC

Pardon us if we are unsympathetic to Mr Hotchin. Perhaps he will now get the picture of what life is like for some of those who invested in his beloved Hanover, and who after years of working productively and investing wisely (so they thought) now find themselves living on a damned sight less than a grand a week.

This Sporting Life - 17 December 2010

There's really only one sporting focus this weekend; the third Ashes test at the WACA in Perth. This post is not pre-loaded, as suggested yesterday, so we are able to comment on a dismal first day for Australia; dismissed for 268, with England 29 without loss at stumps on day one.

Australia has a mountain to climb to recapture cricket's most revered prize. If England can win at Perth, the series is gone and the Ashes will have been retained. If the match at the WACA is drawn, Australia still faces the daunting task of winning the two remaining tests to reclaim the Ashes. Ricky Ponting is staring down the barrel of being a three time loser.

The great Australian teams of the past would have fought tooth and nail to get back on level terms with the English. Sadly for Australia, this is NOT a great Australian team. Apart from day one at Brisbane, they have been outplayed by the English in their own backyard.

So how's it all going to pan out? Is it time for Punter Ponting to call "time"? What's worse; a winning English team or a winning Australian team? So many questions ...


It was raining when we reached our destination yesterday morning; not too far from Wanganui. It hasn't stopped since. And we've just noted from the Metservice website that the metropolis of Wanganui had 17.2mm in the 24 hours to 9am this morning.

That will be very much welcomed. Things were getting pretty parched up until yesterday. And the rainfall in the last 24 hours is more than for the entire six weeks from 1st November. Those who rely on pasture growth for their livelihood will be delighted. Drought was becoming a real probability this summer.

We're not out of the woods yet, but there's more rain in the forecast for the next few days which will certainly ease the situation. Now; as long as it clears for the drive home this afternoon ...

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We've got a few things which have to be done before the Christmas break. We suspect that we're not alone in being in that situation!! Needs must, and it's unlikely that we'll be doing much blogging until tomorrow night.

We will have a This Sporting Life post up tomorrow morning, but if you think that it's strange that we are previewing an Ashes test match that has already started, such is life. If we get a chance, we'll update; if not, c'est la vie.

We hope that YOUR preparations for Christmas are going more smoothly than ours. This has been in many ways a year to forget, and we won't be sad to put it behind us in a fortnight's time. In the meantime there are things to do, people to see and places to go.

Have a great day!

Let's play "Hide the Assets"

It seems that there's a wee game going on between Hanover boss Mark Hotchin and the authorities - check this out:

Mark Hotchin's name is no longer on the title of the $30 million Paritai Drive house which has been a lightning rod for out-of-pocket investors.

The mansion has been seen as a monument to financial excess, but changes to the large piece of real estate's legal status in early spring indicated it might be sold soon.

Under his own name, Mr Hotchin bought three neighbouring Paritai Drive sections and amalgamated them for his vast family home, expected to have a finished value of about $30 million.

QV records showed all the titles merged into one new title with no sales history, a new address and new owner.

Instead of being tagged as being on Paritai Drive, the plots are all listed as 4 Huriaro Place, taking an address from the street behind.

Records, last updated on November 6, show the house and land are owned by a trustee - KA No 4 Trustee - which Companies Office records show traces back to Tony Thomas.

Mr Thomas said a few weeks ago that he was Mr Hotchin's accountant and denied any sale was pending. Legal experts said the changes gave a cleaner title, far easier to dispose of.

That's hardly surprising. People such as Hotchin are very adept at hiding their assets. How else could Hotchin and Eric Watson walked away from the collapse of Hanover with their personal wealth intact whilst the investors who made them wealthy are left with nowt? Lavish birthday parties, ski trips in Switzerland (Watson) and extended stays in Hawaii (with the personal trainer flown in - Hotchin) really rub it in to the mum-and-dad investors who swallowed Hanover's promises of riches.

If you think that we are contemptuous of Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin for their role in the Hanover collapse, you'd be dead right. We hope that the SFO is getting all its ducks in a row, and that justice can one day be done for those who put their faith in Hanover, and had the rug pulled out from underneath them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A cold day for Hotchin

There might be a bit of a heatwave going on in the upper North Island just at the moment, but things have suddenly become very chilly for Hanover head Mark Hotchin - the Herald reports:

Former Hanover director Mark Hotchin has had all his New Zealand assets frozen, after the Securities Commission applied to the High Court at Auckland.

The application was granted without notice to Hotchin last Friday, December 10.

A statement from the Securities Commission says that Hotchin intends to apply to revoke the orders and a hearing is expected in February.

"The action was taken under sections 60G and 60H of the Securities Act with a view to ultimately freezing sufficient property and assets of Mark Hotchin to meet any civil claims that may be brought by investors.

Any such claims would relate to those who invested in Hanover Finance, Hanover Capital and United Finance on the basis of any disclosure documents that are proved to have included untrue statements.

"The Commission decided to take this action against Mr Hotchin after deciding it was in the public interest to do so, enabling us to preserve assets from being sold or transferred", said Securities Commission Chairman Jane Diplock.

The commission said this was a preventive measure and was "no way indicative of civil or criminal liability or of the Commission's views in that regard."

We've had a bit to say on the Hanover collapse, or more to the point the manner in which Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson calmly walked away from the Hanover carnage. To have someone such as Hotchin building a mansion on prime Auckland waterfront land whilst those who invested in Hanover were left with nothing was, in our opinion, an affront to decency, and an insult to the investors.

On that basis, it is pleasing to see the Securities Commission taking action against Mark Hotchin. We note that criminal proceedings have not been ruled out, and we are sure that those investors who lost everything in the Hanover collapse will be pleased the hear that someone may yet be held accountable.

Nine years

We've taken more than a passing interest in the case of Phillip Bannan who killed two people in August whilst running from the police. Bannan has been sentenced today in the High Court at Christchurch; The Press reports:

A man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the manslaughter of two people killed in a crash following a police pursuit in Christchurch in August.

Akaroa's Phillip Bruce Ray Bannan, 22, appeared in the Christchurch High Court this morning.

Justice Graham Pankhurst sentenced him to nine years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of five-and-a-half years.

Throughout his appearance Bannan's eyes remained downcast, looking up only when Fitt and Jordan's family members addressed him.

When Justice Pankhurst issued the sentence, Bannan seemed agitated, fidgeting in the dock.

On August 26 Norman Fitt, 73, and Deidre Jordan, 67, died in the Fitzgerald Avenue crash, which happened after Bannan was briefly pursued by police.

Bannan ran a red light, slamming into Fitt and Jordan's vehicle, which was legally crossing the intersection on a green light.

The unemployed man was found to be driving while disqualified, driving an unlicensed and unwarranted car and driving at more than double the alcohol limit, with a reading of 194 micrograms of alcohol per litre of blood.

He had two previous drink-driving convictions, the most recent in June, just months before the crash.

He was also speeding; driving at 82 kilometres an hour upon impact.

We're not sure, but we would speculate that this is as harsh a sentence as the courts have handed down for car-related killings, where the offender was not charged with murder. Bannan's offending was horrific, and has robbed two families of loved ones.

We can only hope and pray that a long term of imprisonment will lead to some attitude readjustment for Phillip Bannan, but we won't hold our breath. The court report suggests that he doesn't reallly "get it" - read on:

In court Crown lawyer Tim Mackenzie said the family did not take heart from a letter sent to them by Bannan, in which he said ''Accidents like this can happen''.

Citing the pre-sentencing report Justice Pankhurst said Bannan had not accepted responsibility for causing the deaths of Fitt and Jordan.

''Any expression of remorse, and I quote, is 'calculated and superficial','' he told the court.

In the meantime we offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of Norm Fitt and Deidre Jordan who will doubtless feel their loss profoundly over Christmas. Their deaths were wholly avoidable, and Phillip Bannan is solely responsible for causing them. May HE reflect on that over Christmas as well.

Young on Manurewa

Audrey Young makes some telling observations about the ruckus within Labour over the Manurewa candidate selection, and in particular the role of the Labour Party president; she opines:

Andrew Little is right: the threat by retiring MP George Hawkins' to quit Parliament if the Engineers' Union organiser was picked to replace shows the sense of entitlement that some MPs develop.

I'd go further and say it was a disgraceful abuse of the process. No one will know how many people in Sunday's marathon selection in Manurewa favoured Louisa Wall over the Engineers' candidate because of Hawkins' blackmail to quit if Jerome Mika won.

There certainly was an element of petulance in Hawkins' pre-selection utterances, even if they were consistent with what Chris Carter had predicted back in July in his infamous letter. But that pales into insignificance with what follows; a stinging rebuke for Andrew Little; Young continues:

But unfortunately for Little, the moral high ground has just collapsed under him with his extraordinary admission this morning that the ultimate aim had been to get rid of Hawkins.

"The key objective had been to remove George Hawkins and we achieved that objective," he is reported in the Dominion Post.

He also called him a lightweight, which is as much an insult to the local members who put him there year after year. It's one thing to think it - it's another to say it.

The party deserves to feel as outraged by Little's statement as Hawkins' antics.

Indeed. George Hawkins is an elected Member of Parliament. He at least has a mandate from the good folk of Manurewa, a mandate which he has held since 1990. He is also renowned to have strong local support by way of large numbers of Manurewa voters being members of the Labour Party. With Labour Party membership at historic low levels, Andrew Little would do well to take note of Hawkins' local popularity.

Attention now shifts to Te Atatu where the sitting MP has, of course, been expelled from the Labour Party. The Service and Food Workers Union will be cock-a-hoop after Louisa Wall's success in Manurewa; the Little-led EPMU factor will be licking its wounds. Andrew Little might just be discovering the folly of wearing too many hats.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A maiden speech ...

We see that on Parliament's Order Paper for today, Kris Fa'afoi's maiden speech is scheduled for 5.45pm this afternoon. Regardless of the fact that we disagree with his politics, it would be churlish not to wish him well for this significant occasion.

We do have some words of caution for him however. We reckon that it would be a good idea for Kris not to dwell too extensively on his childhood, especially when it involves matters of food. And we reckon that it might be a good idea for him to avoid phrases such as "I remember ... " lest a hungry House dissolve into pre-dinner mirth!

Pansy Wong resigns

Breaking news from Parliament - the Herald reports:

Pansy Wong has announced her resignation from Parliament saying the row over her misuse of her travel perk has been an unfair distraction to the Government and she wants to concentrate on her family.

At a media conference in Wellington this morning, Mrs Wong said that after 14 years in Parliament, it was the right time to step down.

She said her parliamentary career had put too many constraints on her husband's pursuits.

"I've decided that this will no longer be the case."

She said she would now concentrate of "personal and family" time.

Mrs Wong said the allegations against her of improper taxpayer-funded travel was an unfair distraction to the Government

"I strongly refute those allegations and do not want to tie up the Government's and my time continuing to do so," she said.

"I want to ensure the National-led Government can progress its agenda without unnecessary distractions."

We can't say with any honesty that we are distressed by Pansy Wong's resignation. Even though the McPhail report cleared her of any systematic rorting of MP travel entitlements, and even though the Auditor-General has yet to decide whether or not to investigate further, her perceived rorting damaged her terminally. By resigning as an MP, she has taken the honourable course, but also in all probability the only course open to her.

Nor do we have a lot of sympathy for Mrs Wong. She is a long-serving MP, and long-serving MP's should have the best knowledge of the rules. She fell foul of the rules, and lost her ministerial position as a consequence. That she has now decided to resign from Parliament, her fall from grace is complete.

National now has an opportunity to bring in an up-and-comer, and we can imagine that the Botany by-election nomination will be keenly contested, given Pansy Wong's majority of almost 10,000 votes. It will also give Labour an opportunity to have a test run for the 2011 General Election, and if Phil Twyford doeab't succeed in Te Atatu on Saturday, perhaps Botany will be fifth time lucky!

UPDATE: That didn't take long; the first contender for the National nomination in Botany has already made his plans known ...