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iPredict Column

October 23rd, 2009 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

This week’s column:

A quick sell

One can make a quick and near guaranteed sell with OBAMA.DISAP.4NOV. You can sell for 4c, which is not much. But it will pay out in just two weeks time so a 4.1% return over two weeks is equal to around 105% return on an annualized basis.

And it is almost risk free as it will be judged on the Real Clear Politics average of the poll on the 4th of November. Now they average the last eight polls, which tend to be over a fortnight or so. So some of the polls just published will count towards that average and they are showing Obama 8% to 10% ahead.

Winston fading

MP.PETERS.2011 peaked in September at 42c. For the last month it has been constant at 30c, but in the last week has dropped to between 22c and 26c. His “tsunami of immigrants” speech failed to generate any movements in the polls, and also attracted little media coverage as the other parties have realized now the trick is to ignore Peters, not respond to him. Hence the market has started to mark down his chances of pulling off a comeback.

Going Going …

Four new stocks this week on whether the National and Labour Leaders and Deputy Leaders will lose their jobs by the end of 2010.

DEP.KEY.2010 is floated at 10c and has reduced to 5c by late yesterday. This is effectively at 0c, as investors know a 5% return over 14 months is less than they could get in a bank.

DEP.ENGLISH.2010 also floated at 10c and didn’t have a single trader yesterday and only one trade today at 10.6c. Traders don’t see a lot of money to be made here.

DEP.GOFF.2010 floated at 12c and early buyers have made a good profit with the price rising to 30c. This seems about right to me, and I’d start selling if it goes much higher.

DEP.KING.2010 also floated at 12c and one buyer (was it Shane Jones?) pushed it up to 74c but now has stabilized at 34c. I think this stock is undervalued and may go a bit higher. Why? King like Goff entered Parliament in the 1980s. While both experienced politicians, if the pressure comes on for fresher faces, it is easier to change the Deputy than the Leader.

Highest Trading Stocks

Kiwis like their petrol price stocks. A whopping $30,000 has been traded in the last week on what the price of petrol will be at the end of October.

Next most traded is OCR.NC.29OCT as people get in last minute trades on whether Bollard will change the official cash rate.

Cheers,

David

Disclosure

David’s current iPredict positions are:

BROWN.RESIGN Short, DEP.GOFF.2010 Short, DEP.KING.2010 Short, DL.KING.09 Short, FASA04.REPEAL Short, GST.UP.JULY10 Short, LEAD.GOFF.09 Short, MAYOR.BROWN Long, MIN.DEPART2.09 Short, MP.ANDERTON Short, MP.PETERS.2011 Short, NAT.MAORI.09 Short, OBAMA.DISAP.4NOV Short, OCR.INCR.APR10 Short, OCR.INCR.JAN10 Short, PETERS.LEADER Long, PM.2011.NATIONAL Long, UK2010.CON.ABS Long, UK2010.CON.MAJ Short, ZIM.MUGABE Short

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Well that got my attention

October 23rd, 2009 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

I’ve not yet had time to read the Search Surveillance Bill, but have added it to my weekend reading, after viewing this story:

Sweeping powers to spy, bug conversations and hack into private computers could be given to a web of state agencies as diverse as Inland Revenue and the Meat Board.

The Human Rights Commission yesterday warned Parliament of the “chilling” implications of a proposed law that would see the intrusive powers usually only available to the police extended to all agencies with enforcement responsibilities.

It said that under the law, council dog control officers would be able to enter homes to install a surveillance device and the Commerce Commission would be able to detain people.

Inland Revenue would get the powers to assist its tax investigations, while the Meat Board would get them to enforce breaches of export rules.

The Human Rights Commission chief commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan, said the Search Surveillance Bill was giving the powers away to a “grab-bag of every possible agency”.

This summary sounds very bad:

WHAT’S IN THE BILL

THE POWERS:

Video surveillance, watching private activity on private property, installing tracking devices, detaining people during a search, power to stop vehicles without a warrant for a search, warrantless seizure of “items in plain view”, power to hack into computers remotely, power to detain anyone at scene of search.

WHO WILL GET THEM:

Every agency with enforcement responsibilities, such as: Inland Revenue, Meat Board, local councils, Overseas Investment Office, Accident Compensation Corporation, Environment Risk Management Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Pork Industry Board.

I feel bad I haven’t been more up to date on this issue. At first glance it looks pretty horrific. Select Committee submissions have already closed but if the Select Committee doesn’t pare back the range of agencies and powers, then amendments can be done at the Committee of the Whole stage.

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Damn

October 23rd, 2009 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

In Hamilton with Jadis and her five year old. I asked Master Five whether his mum was older than me or not (in fact I am eight years older) and my glee could not be contained when he said that his daddy was the oldest (who is six years younger than me), then his mum and then I was the youngest.

My glee was shortlived though when Jadis asked him why he thought I was the youngest and he explained that Dad was the tallest so he must be the oldest, and then Mum and then me. In other words he thinks I am the youngest because I am the shortest.

My half minute of gloating has now ended with Jadis being incredibly smug and me sulking.

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General Debate 23 October 2009

October 23rd, 2009 at 8:27 am by David Farrar
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Charming

October 22nd, 2009 at 8:54 pm by David Farrar

This is what Chris Carter blogged on the Labour Parliamentary Blog earlier today. He deleted it soon afterwards, but Kiwiblog readers retained copies and sent them in!

Delusions of grandeur <http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/10/22/delusions-of-grandeur/>

via Red Alert <http://blog.labour.org.nz>  by Chris Carter on 10/21/09

Just saw the most awful sight.

John Key was posing outside on the 9th Floor Beehive balcony for a photo op.

He looked just like Mussolini at the Piazzo Navona. I couldn’t resist leaning out my window and calling out to John that he resembled Mussolini.

He responded “IT WORKED!”

Says it all, really.

So Chris Carter saw the “most awful sight”. No it wasn’t landing at Wellington Airport but the PM doing a photo op. And so of course he thought of Mussolini.

Not content with having those thoughts, he felt the need to share with the world how “most awful” it was that he though the PM looked like Mussolini doing a photo op.

mussolini

He even took the time to upload a photo of Mussolini to the Labour blog.

And Labour wonders why they are 33% behind in the polls. Obviously some of Chris’ colleagues got the post yanked down as soon as possible, but they should learn that this is the Internet!

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Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill

October 22nd, 2009 at 8:20 pm by David Farrar

Simon Power has introduced the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill which merges together the Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Commission. After the 2011 election, they will also add in the Chief Registrar of Electors.

The new Commission will come into force on 1 October 2010. It will have three Commissioners appointed by the GG on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. One Commissioner will be the Chairperson. Another will be the Chief Electoral Officer and Chief Executive of the Commission. There can also be a Deputy Chairperson.

The bill provides for the Minister to consult with the parliamentary leaders of all parties in Parliament, before recommending/making appointments.

I don’t regard this as satisfactory. While the current Minister I am sure would not appoint someone objected to by the other parties, the former Government often ignored objections by other parties with regards to their appointments.

I actually believe the three Commissions should be appointed directly by Parliament, and that the Commission should be an “Office of Parliament” not a crown entity.  The preamble states this was considered but rejected as not fitting the criteria. I plan to ask under the OIA for documents about why this was so.

I don’t think the Government of the Day should be able to appoint the Electoral Commissioners. The Bill even allows for the possibility that a Member of Parliament could be appointed to the Electoral Commission (which would vacate their seat).

I think the merger is a long overdue idea, and the Bill should 100% go to select committee. But I do hope serious consideration is given to making the appointment of the Electoral Commissioners more independent from the Government of the Day. Either they should be officially appointed by Parliament itself, or there should be a requirement or the Minister to obtain written consent to a recommendation from Leaders representing both 75% of the parties in Parliament, and representing at least 75% of MPs.

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Minto compares Bush to Hitler and Amin

October 22nd, 2009 at 4:05 pm by David Farrar

It’s great to be reminded how fruit loopy the far left are. John Minto blogs:

It was dispiriting to see a group of secondary schoolboys hounded by media as they entered the Auckland War Memorial Museum to apologise for their behaviour at a school outing earlier this year when they paid mock homage to the swastika. …

They weren’t intending disrespect to the Jews, gypsies, communists and homosexuals who all faced Nazi extermination efforts. Surely we need to lighten up a bit here.

The same applies to the Lincoln University students who dressed up as Nazis and Nazi victims for a fancy dress party a few weeks back. There were howls of rage and profuse apologies all round and disciplinary action followed.

Was the same action taken against those who dressed up as Osama bin Laden, Idi Amin or George Bush? All of these figures could rightly be condemned for war crimes and genocide.

Yes of course dressing up as George Bush is the same as dressing up as Nazis. I mean, after all, they are all guilty of genocide.

I just love it that there really are people who equate Bush with Hitler. Even after Bush retired from office in accordance with the constitution. They spent years darkly warning of how Bush would become a military dictator supported by the industrial-military complex. Yet somehow we now have Obama as President and a Democratic House and Senate.

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Raeburn on provocation

October 22nd, 2009 at 3:53 pm by David Farrar

Jenna Raeburn blogs:

It utterly irritates me that the provocation debate has been almost entirely subsumed by the Weatherston case. There are three massive problems with this.

The Weatherston case has been the catalyst for change, but for my own part I have been supportive of a law change for some years since the McNee case.

Everyone has forgotten about the better, more philosophical justifications for removing the defence. In my mind the biggest issue is the assumption that, given a high enough degree of provocation, any ordinary person might resort to homicidal violence. This is a fundamentally flawed conception of human nature and is no basis for distinguishing levels of culpability.

Bravo. And then she addresses those who argue just for a change:

The second major issue is that the defence is inherently discriminatory. It does not provide protection to those who are not considered to have an “ordinary” level of self-control. Worse, it provides homophobes, misogynists, racists and other bigots with an excuse to murder the subjects of their hatred. This is exacerbated by the fact that the legal tests are such a complicated mix of objective and subjective factors that juries never understand it. None of this can be fixed simply by “changing” the defence – these are inherent issues, so it has to be scrapped entirely.

And then the cases before Weatherston:

We have also forgotten about the other many victims who have been defamed by murderers pleading provocation, and the many cases where the defence has absurdly been successful. Why didn’t the Ambach case cause the same outrage as Weatherston? It was barely reported, and yet it is twenty times as outrageous because Ambach was actually successful. The McNee case was very similar, and is also largely forgotten despite having more publicity.

Those interested in more info on these other cases could read a good article at Salient by Conrad Reyners on this.

I think the McNee case was outraegous. Even if his killer Edwards was heterosexual, that would be no reason for him to kill McNee, but Edwards frequently slept with men for sex – in fact he tried to blackmail several of them. This violent thug just conned the jury and got manslaughter instead of murder. The problem with the provocation partial defence is it encourages people to try and defame their victim.

People are calling the abolition of provocation a knee-jerk reaction to the Weatherston case. I cannot believe the sheer numbers of people I have noted expressing this belief over the last couple of days as this has all made the news again. This is the one and only thing that inspired me to write a post about what essentially ought to be a non-issue. It ought to have been so since Rongonui at least. A change has been on the cards for years, especially since the Law Commission report in 2007. Anyone who believes this is all about Clayton Weatherston should read it.

I think the Weatherston case has been a catalyst for MPs. It has meant the law change has happened quicker than otherwise would have been the case. But again I agree that the need to change the law has been apparent for many years.

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The right to privacy

October 22nd, 2009 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A detailed membership list for the far-right British National Party has been leaked, revealing that the white supremacist party’s influence reaches as far as New Zealand.

The list, which contains 16,000 names, many with contact details, was published on the website Wikileaks. Three New Zealanders appeared on the list.

xxxxx  from Glenfield, said he had been a member of BNP for six years and was not fazed by his details being made public.

The leadership of the BNP are nasty pieces of work, but I don’t approve of publishing the names and addresses of members of the BNP. People may have joined up on the spot many years ago after attending a meeting before getting to know more about them. Or yes they may fully back the BNP as one gentleman quoted does. But regardless political party membership is essentially a private matter and I think it is regrettable that people have ben hounded over their membership.

It is a slippery slope between that, and revealing who people voted for in an election.

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A good verdict

October 22nd, 2009 at 2:57 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

As a packed courtroom erupted at the news that Alan Gundry would walk free after shooting dead one of his best mates in self-defence, the young Auckland father simply sank in the dock and cradled his head in his hands. …

After deliberating for eight hours, a jury unanimously found Mr Gundry not guilty of murder and, by a majority of 11-1, not guilty of manslaughter. His lawyer, Graeme Newell, said there would be no celebration at the rare verdict – just relief.

Is that the first 11-1 verdict? Vindicates the law change I think as no way he would have been found guilty but it avoids a retrial.

Mr Gundry and Mr Atkins were friends for years and had spent January 12 eating and drinking at Mr Gundry’s home.

But during the evening Mr Atkins became upset with his girlfriend. They went home and he threw her belongings out of his house. She then fled to Mr Gundry’s house, and Mr Atkins followed.

Mr Atkins had a violent history, including several assaults on his girlfriend and a road-rage incident, the court was told. When he died, he was awaiting trial charged with slashing a man’s face at an Auckland nightclub.

On the night of the killing, he rampaged through Mr Gundry’s home, attacking five others, leaving another party-goer semi-conscious in a pool of blood and assaulting Mr Gundry’s partner, Nicole MacDonald.

It was right to bring it to trial, but the verdict is absolutely the right one, from the media reports.

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Response to Health Changes

October 22nd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Well almost the entire health sector seem to be united behind the changes announced by Tony Ryall. This degree of unanimity is very rare. In fact I think the last time it happened was in the early 90s when the Young Nats proposed selling off all 23 CHEs to the private sector (on the basis of there being a funder/provider split, and ownership of providers did not matter), and we got condemned by every health group and political party there was – including National’s own Minister and Under-Secretary :-)

Getting widespread support in favour, rather than against, what you are doing is harder but here is reaction yesterday:

NZMA:

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) today welcomed the announcement by the Government of substantial changes to the health system.

“It makes great sense to rationalise the backroom services of the District Health Boards (DHBs) and to provide much greater coordination of national services and we support the decision to place the National Health Board within the Ministry of Health,” said NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

NZNO:

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) supports announcements made today by the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, which will see greater collaboration in health across New Zealand’s 21 District Health Boards (DHBs).

“We are pleased that the Government and the Minister have taken heed of the submissions made in response to the Ministerial Review Group report ‘Meeting the Challenge’. We welcome any additional resources to workers at the front line of the health service,” said NZNO President Nano Tunnicliff.

“The changes signalled are a sensible continuation towards a more nationally integrated health service,” Tunnicliff said.

ASMS:

“We are chuffed that the government has listened to advice from us and others on the health proposed by the Ministerial Review Group (Horn Report),” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“The Horn Report recommended creating a new bureaucracy, the National Health Board, as a separate, less accountable crown entity, in addition to the Ministry of Health. This would have involved major restructuring, and risked increasing bureaucratic wastage and generating paralysis in decision-making. We supported the functions proposed for the National Health Board but not the recommended structure.”

“We have worked hard lobbying government not to go down this path. Instead we recommended that the functions be allocated to a specific enhanced unit within the Ministry of Health. This is exactly what Health Minister has announced today and we are delighted. It is a relatively novel experience of a government listening to us in such a specific way.

And even the Health Cuts Hurt lobby group:

“Health Cuts Hurt supports the principles behind the Government’s decisions about the public health system announced today but is concerned that the devil is in the so far undelivered detail,”

“How can you oppose more consolidation of the administrative functions like purchasing in bulk and more regional cooperation in service delivery along with returning savings from these things into more operations or hospital beds,” said Heather Carter.

Oh I am sure Labour can, if they try hard enough :-)

HFANZ:

Efficiency gains expected as a result of changes to the public health system announced by the Government today have been welcomed by the Health Funds Association (HFANZ).

Tony Ryall really is doing well with what is traditionally a very dangerous portfolio. If only, the same could be said across the entire Government!

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Personal Grievances

October 22nd, 2009 at 9:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government is reviewing personal grievance claims procedures to make them less onerous on employers.

John Key told the Council of Trade Unions the personal grievance process needed to be more coherent and easier.

“Substance-over-form issues are the area of concern – where someone has genuinely done something that warrants dismissal but because [the employers] haven’t followed the rules absolutely perfectly, they lose. It can be very expensive for small companies.”

Well overdue. Even large companies with scores of lawyers often fail to follow perfect process, and have to pay out money no matter how justified the dismissal is. For small companies, it is far worse, as they do not have access to in house legal advice, and often they just have to carry on with someone who is not up to the job, for fear of having to do a big pay out if they take action.

Quite like the gall of John Key in announcing the changes at the CTU conference, along with this report:

John Key laid down a challenge to teachers yesterday – sacrifice part of a pay rise so school support staff can have one.

Speaking at the Council of Trade Unions’ conference, the Prime Minister was challenged by Frances Guy from the teachers’ and support staff union, the NZ Educational Institute, over the nil pay increase offered to support staff. …

Mr Key said the staff were in a difficult position in their negotiations because of the fiscally restrained environment.

“Maybe one option is you guys ought to go and talk to your fellow unions and say, ‘Let’s have teachers taking less of a pay rise so it can be put toward education support staff’. See if they support you.”

Oh that is wonderful. What a cunning response. Of course Labour is outraged:

Labour’s education spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said it was “outrageous” to propose setting the education groups against each other.

Outrageous Fortune perhaps :-)

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Windows 7

October 22nd, 2009 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

So anyone tried it out yet?

My laptop is near death but I have been putting off getting a new one, as I didn’t want to have to get Vista. Good old XP has been doing the job.

If Windows 7 is pretty good, I’ll probably buy myself a new laptop for Xmas, even though that also means trading in Office 2003 for Office 2007 (I do not like its layout). If not, then maybe I’ll go for a Mac!

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General Debate 22 Octoer 2009

October 22nd, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar
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Obama vs Fox

October 21st, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Fox News reports on the war against them by the Obama Administration:

The White House is calling on other news organizations to isolate and alienate Fox News as it sends out top advisers to rail against the cable channel as a Republican Party mouthpiece.

This has of course sent ratings at Fox upwards.

The White House stopped providing guests to “Fox News Sunday” after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August.

Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was “something I’ve never seen a Sunday show do.”

“She criticized ‘Fox News Sunday’ last week for fact-checking — fact-checking — an administration official,” Wallace said Sunday. “They didn’t say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check.”

“Let’s fact-check Anita Dunn, because last Sunday she said that Fox ignores Republican scandals, and she specifically mentioned the scandal involving Nevada senator John Ensign,” Wallace added. “A number of Fox News shows have run stories about Senator Ensign. Anita Dunn’s facts were just plain wrong.”

How dare they fact check.

Fox of course does lean to the right. Nut the New York Times (for example) leans heavily to the left, and I don’t recall former Republican Governments refusing to be interviewed by the NYT.

Observers on both sides of the political aisle questioned the White House’s decision to continue waging war on a news organization, saying the move carried significant political risks.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said on CNN: “I don’t always agree with the White House. And on this one here I would disagree.”

David Gergen, who has worked for Democratic and Republican presidents, said: “I totally agree with Donna Brazile.” Gergen added that White House officials have “gotten themselves into a fight they don’t necessarily want to be in. I don’t think it’s in their best interest.”

I’ve never known politicians who take on the press head on, to win. You can make your case on biased coverage when and if it occurs, but to have the actual Government try and freeze a media organisation out if silly and will not help Obama.

Media columnist David Carr of The New York Times warned that the White House war on Fox “may present a genuine problem for Mr. Obama, who took great pains during the campaign to depict himself as being above the fray of over-heated partisan squabbling.”

“While there is undoubtedly a visceral thrill in finally setting out after your antagonists, the history of administrations that have successfully taken on the media and won is shorter than this sentence,” Carr wrote over the weekend. “So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year.”

Carr sums it up perfectly – even though he works for the NYT :-)

He added: “The administration, by deploying official resources against a troublesome media organization, seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight.”

And I think they will regret it.

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A punishment that fits the crime

October 21st, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Five Auckland schoolboys who made a tearful apology to war veterans for worshipping Nazi symbols will now teach museum visitors about the horrors of the Nazi regime.

The five students caused outrage when they kissed a swastika, bowed before a Nazi banner and gave a Nazi salute during an Auckland Grammar School visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

What a good idea. Don’t expel or suspend them, but make them teach visitors to the museum about the Nazis. A real case of a punishment fitting the crime.

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DHB changes

October 21st, 2009 at 1:33 pm by David Farrar

Tony Ryall has announced:

“Cabinet has agreed to a number of proposals from the Ministerial Review Group’s report ‘Meeting the Challenge’ that will greatly improve national and regional cooperation and reduce duplication of back office functions, ” the Minister said.

As a package, the changes will move up to an estimated $700 million in savings over five years to frontline services. That would buy about 16,000 heart bypass operations or build two large city hospitals.  The changes are also expected to reduce the health system bureaucracy by up to 500 administration jobs. These would be managed as much as possible through attrition and voluntary redundancy. …

The major changes include setting up a new National Health Board (NHB) within the Ministry of Health. The NHB will focus on supervising the $9.7 billion of public health funding the 21 DHBs spend on hospitals and primary health care.

The new NHB will manage national planning and funding of all IT, workforce planning and capital investment. It will also take national responsibility for vulnerable health services such as paediatric oncology.

Work will also start on consolidating the 21 DHBs’ back office administrative functions such as payroll and bill payments.

“Officials estimate a one-off cost of between $5 and $10 million to set up the changes and that will be met within the Vote Health budget. Up to an estimated $700 million is expected to be saved in the first five years from coordinating procurement and logistics. All savings will be reinvested back into frontline health services.”

I don’t think anyone can object to the intention of these changes. If they save even a fraction of what the official cite, that will be a good thing freeing up money for frontline services.

The challenge for the Government is to have them go smoothly. INCIS is a prime example of good intentions going astray.

But I’m pleased the Government is prepared to take the risk, in order to make improvements. The status quo is not good enough.

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BBC right to include BNP

October 21st, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

To the outrage of many Britons, a white-supremacist fringe party riding a wave of electoral success has been invited to participate in a BBC prime-time TV show on politics.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government says it is appalled that the far right British National Party will get such high-profile exposure to millions of viewers. The BBC, however, says as a publicly funded broadcaster it must cover all political parties that have a national presence.

The BNP is a loathsome vile racist party. But they also won two seats in the European Parliament. It is not for state owned media to decide not to cover a party, just because of their views.

Personally I believe exposing extreme views, and ridiculing them, is much better than ignoring them.

Having said that media should be careful not give a minor party disproportionate coverage just because they are controversial. For example Winston First should get the same coverage as any other party not in Parliament that is polling 1% to 2%.

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Afghan Elections go to second round

October 21st, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

President Hamid Karzai has agreed to face a second round of voting in Afghanistan’s disputed election after a UN-led fraud inquiry tossed out enough of his votes to trigger a run-off.

It was a corrupt election, but good to see the UN in this case stood up to the local Government, and as a result there will be a second round of voting. Karzai would have lacked legitimacy if he had refused a second round.

The challenge now is for him and/or his supporters not to create fake votes next time. If the second round is as corrupt as the first round, it will reduce the moral legitimacy of the Government, and make it harder for the NATO led effort to continue.

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Reforming MMP

October 21st, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Labour MP David Parker welcomed the referendum, but said it should include reforming MMP itself as one of the options.

I’m not sure whether one does it as part of a the referenda, or seperately, but agree it would be good to review some aspects of MMP.

What do readers think are some of the changes that could improve MMP. Here are some of the options (note this does not mean I support them)

  • Reduce threshold for list seats from 5% to 4% (as recommended by Royal Cmsn), or lower
  • Remove threshold all together (means effectively around 0.8% gets you an MP)
  • Increase electorate seat threshold for list seats from one electorate to two (or more)
  • Remove winning an electorate seat as a way to qualify for list seats
  • Waive the 5% threshold for “tangata whenua” parties and abolish the Maori seats (as recommended by Royal Cmsn)
  • Increase the number of electorate seats from 70, and reduce the number of list seats form 50
  • Set Parliament to have 60 electorate seats and 60 list seats
  • Set Parliament to have an equal number of electorate and list seats (so size of Parliament will rise over time is the number of electorates increases due to faster population growth in the North Island)
  • Ban dual candidacy so you can stand either in an electorate or on a list (note personally I think this is unworkable)
  • term limits for MPs
  • have “open” lists for parties so voters can change the order

Other suggestions welcome, plus views on the above.

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Protesting against no more free silk scarf painting classes

October 21st, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

About 70 people, including 20 Opposition MPs, protested outside Parliament yesterday over the cuts to adult and community education funding. …

In May’s Budget, funding for adult community education was cut from $16 million to $3 million, with the Government saying it paid for hobby courses. There has been intense criticism of the cut, with opponents saying courses will be slashed.

Of course if people wish to still learn how to dye their silk scarves, or learn Moroccan cooking, they can still do so. But they will pay for the course, instead of forcing everyone else to fund it for them.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said that with the recession the Government was focusing on foundation skills such as literacy, numeracy and language courses.

Focusing on literacy and numeracy instead of Moroccan cooking. What is the world coming to.

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Moving to the centre

October 21st, 2009 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party, which has prevaricated and criticised the boy-racer legislation, will support both bills and the other four law and order bills as well.

The big test will be what Labour does when the three strikes law is reported back. Of course it will depend on details, but supporting that may be too much for some of their MPs.

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General Debate 21 October 2009

October 21st, 2009 at 8:00 am by David Farrar
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Media criticises Clark for lack of openess

October 20th, 2009 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

There was a fascinating radio interview at 7.40 am on National Radio today. It was from a specialist newspaper that reports on the UN, and complaining about the refusal of Helen Clark to do press conferences, how Clark and Heather Simpson try to handpick journalists for interviews and a general lack of accountability.

You can listen to the interview here.

It sounds like the UN media is less compliant than some of the NZ media has been. Some extracts from the interview with Matthew Lee the founder and editor of the Inner City Press that focuses on the UN:

In the six months she has been in office there have been a number of UNDP issues that have arisen and repeatedly, I would say half a dozen times, myself and other journalist have asked that she comes and do a press conference, an actual Q&A and take questions and it is yet to happen.

He points out she is the third most senior official at the UN, and not a single press conference in six months.

It has become somewhat striking, a total failure to answer questions about the agency as they arise. … Once requests were made for Helen Clark to do a press conference there were a flurry of calls from her two spokespeople at the UNDP to specific media outlets saying do you want a one on one. One of them responded and said Okay here’s the journalist who will do it. But UNDP responded No No we prefer this other journalist who works for you. That’s a degree of micro-management of press coverage that is almost unheard of in the UN.

But very familiar to people back in New Zealand. And many in the media went along with it, or they risked losing access.

If she is the third highest official in the UN, she needs to come and take questions because everyone else does. The Secretary-General does it on a monthly basis, the head of peacekeeping every two weeks.

Almost funny that Helen’s managed to actually lower the standards at the UN!

He also goes on to say how the only briefing anyone in the UNDP has given for some months has been about relief efforts in Samoa and Tonga.

Geoff Robinson: Are you the only journalist, is yours the only organisation raising this as an issue?

Lee: No, No … In July an issue arose about a hiring, a kind of nepotism hiring took place in UNDP. Inner City Press had the exclusive but after that it was covered by the Times of London, Reuters and even newspapers in Italy. All four of these publications wanted answers from UNDP and none of them got them. I sent e-mails to her long time staffer, Heather Simpson, to make sure we got her answer as to why this nepotism scandal was not a problem. There was never any response at all.

Heather’s job is to block media, not facilitate them!

But here is what is really interesting. All the media listen to Morning Report. Yet this quite stunning and significant interview has not been reported anywhere else at all!

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MMP Referenda

October 20th, 2009 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

Simon Power has announced the process for referenda on the electoral system, and I am very pleased with the final process.

I blogged a few weeks ago that I was very concern that there seemed to be some talk of having people vote only once on retaining MMP, without knowing the alternative. But the Government has announced, well basically, exactly what I advocated (which I am sure is merely because it really is the common sense way to do it).

The process is:

  1. Parliament passes a law enabling a first referendum to be held in conjunction with 2011 election
  2. The first referendum will have two questions – the first question being do you want to continue with MMP or have an alternative system
  3. The second question will be to select your preferred alternative – the options are likely to be STV, FPP, PV and SM
  4. If the first question is a vote to retain MMP, the second question is academic and that is the end of it.
  5. If the first question votes for change, then a second referendum will be held giving people a binary choice between MMP and the preferred alternative (the highest ranking option from the second question)
  6. The second referendum will be held at the 2014 election
  7. Enabling legislation for an electoral system based on the alternate electoral system will be passed prior to the 2014 election, and it will automatically come into force if the alternative system wins
  8. The 2017 election would be run under the new electoral system, if there is a change

As I said, it is really good to see there is a fair process – basically a mirror of the 1992/93 referenda.

I find it interesting that in my unscientific blog poll, 47% back MMP, 23% STV, and only 20% FPP. Personally I think it is highly unlikely that we would vote to return to FPP.

A run off between STV and MMP could be interesting as they are both proportional electoral systems, but operate very very differently.

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