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Some useful advice for sports stars

November 6th, 2010 at 2:36 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Canberra Raiders are set to sack disgraced centre Joel Monaghan as early as this weekened after the saga surrounding his dog photo emerged.

The Canberra Raiders are expected to sack disgraced centre Joel Monaghan as soon as this weekend.

The Raiders board will meet to discuss Monaghan’s Mad Monday “prank” which saw a photo emerge showing him in a compromising position with a dog.

Compromising is one term for it.

My advice for sports stars:

  1. Don’t stick your penis in dogs’ mouths
  2. Even if it is a mate’s
  3. If you ignore (1) then don’t take a photo of it
No tag for this post.

Vodafone quality

November 6th, 2010 at 1:32 pm by David Farrar

I’m not sure what the problem is, but Vodafone’s quality has not been great lately.

On around half a dozen occasions, people phoning me have not been able to get through – it goes straight to my voicemail, despite the fact my mobile phone is switched on, and not in use. I can only guess there was some sort of network congestion.

This is more than a minor inconvenience. Twice it has happened when radio stations are calling me to do live on air interviews at an arranged time.

I’ve also noticed lately many texts not being delivered to me for several hours, and sometimes not ever. Again this is more than a minor inconvenience when one of the texts is to say that someone is not meeting you at the airport, and you should grab a taxi instead.

Am I just very unlucky or have other Vodafone customers had these problems? Does this happen sometimes to Telecom customers? If calls and texts can not get through, then one has to seriously consider swapping networks.

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Bullying at Howick College

November 6th, 2010 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

I doubt any school manages to be totally without bullying, unless they manage to be totally without pupils. But despite that limitation, the reports around Howick College seem to be a cause for concern, as reported in the Herald:

Mr Ropati’s comments came after dozens of parents and some students contacted the Herald this week when the father of a Year 9 Howick student said his daughter was being so badly bullied, he was forced to send her to South Africa for school.

If that many went out of their way to contact the Herald, it is hard to not conclude there is a wide-spread problem.

Several parents said their children had also been bullied while at the college, with some saying students had had to change schools because the bullying was so bad.

And if this is the case, it should be picked up in exit interviews.

The woman said her daughter endured “a good full year” of bullying in 2008. She said she was disappointed with college staff, who seemed to dismiss the situation. “We had to talk to the dean, counsellors. The counsellor just said it would suit everybody else if she just left. …

The woman said she and her husband tried several times to meet the principal at the time, but were told the issue was not important enough.

Another parent said a young relative of hers had been bullied so much he flatly refused to go to school.

“The school passed us from one manager to another and to cut a long story short, they essentially threw up their hands, said they had a very big school and couldn’t take on the problems of this child, and encouraged us to send him somewhere else.”

This is the part that causes the most concern. The senior staff were not willing to take action.

Mr Ropati – who became principal in January – said he would encourage the parents who had contacted the Herald to speak to him.

“We may have bullies, we may have bullying behaviour, but all schools are vulnerable.

“And I stress that we do take every bullying case very seriously.

“If that hasn’t happened in the past, then that is out of my control.”

The fact the principal is new, is cause for some optimism that things may improve.

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ACC reforms

November 6th, 2010 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins reports in the Herald:

The proposal follows a law change this year giving ACC the power to vary levies on employers in line with their accident records.

This system, known as “experience rating”, will take effect for employers next April.

The ACC’s consultation document suggests extending the same principle to levies on motorists and income-tax payers or “earners”.

An employee on the average income of about $50,000 a year will pay more than $1300 in ACC levies this financial year.

That is 2.6% or gross income or around 3.5% of after tax income, which is a huge cost.

The ACC document suggests that motorists’ levies, paid through vehicle licence fees to compensate road accident victims, could be increased for people who get many traffic tickets and for younger drivers, and reduced for people such as pensioners with good safety records.

Yes, absolutely. That retains the insurance component of the scheme, but provides incentives for safer drivers. Why should a 65 year old with a 45 year perfect driving record pay the same as a new driver who has already been involved in an accident and has several speeding tickets.

For earners, who now pay a 2 per cent income tax surcharge to compensate working people injured outside workplaces and roads, the corporation suggests a no-claims discount for people with no injury claims in the past five years, offset by higher levies for those with more injuries, such as many sports players.

Please. I don’t think I have had an ACC claim for well over 20 years.  Of course my employee levy is modest compared to the employer levy.

It also suggests an option to pay a lower levy in exchange for reduced benefits, and poses three questions:

“Would you prefer to pay lower ACC levies in return for a 10 per cent drop in compensation for lost income after a less serious injury, such as a sprained ankle?”


“Would you prefer to pay lower ACC levies in return for a longer wait period. For example, extending the period without lost income compensation from a week to a longer period, such as three weeks?”


“Would you prefer us to lower the earners’ levy in return for earners paying more of their accident-related treatment costs?”

Depends on the details of the trade off, but certainly keen to at least have the option so people can choose for themselves what best suits them.

Dr Smith said there would be problems in adopting ACC’s proposals for motorists and sports players.

Young drivers could register their cars in their grandparents’ names, and he did not want to harm the “broader social benefits” of sport.

I’m not sure the level of avoidance would be great. Agree you do not want to put people off sport, but I think the cost of ACC is not a major factor in decisions on sport.


General Debate 6 November 2010

November 6th, 2010 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

Nuclear powered ships

November 5th, 2010 at 10:16 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says her country’s nuclear-powered warships are safe and reliable, and whether they visit here again is something New Zealand has to decide.

US submarines carry nuclear weapons, surface warships don’t but most of them are nuclear-powered.

No, they are not. In fact few ships would be ineligible to visit.

The US Navy has 289 ships, being:

    • 11 Aircraft carriers – nuclear powered
    • 10 Amphibious assault ships – non-nuclear
    • 9 Amphibious transport docks – non-nuclear
    • 12 Dock landing ships – non-nuclear
    • 22 Cruisers – non-nuclear
    • 55 Destroyers – non-nuclear
    • 30 Frigates – non-nuclear
    • 71 Submarines
      • 18 ballistic submarines – nuclear powered and armed
      • 53 attack submarines – nuclear powered only

    The ballistic submarines don’t really do port visits. They sit under the ocean waiting to blow Russia up :-)

    The aircraft carriers are also very unlikely to visit NZ, even if no ban. They’re too large for most docks, and more to the point they tend to be needed in hot spots a lot.

    So really the ban on nuclear power (which is illogical but is now “iconic”) only stops the attack submarines from visiting.

    Going back to the NZPA article which said most surface warships are nuclear powered, it is in fact only 11 out of 218, or 5% of the surface fleet.

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    Dom Post on national standards

    November 5th, 2010 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

    The Dom Post editorial:

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that the head teachers’ trade union, the Principals Federation, desperately hopes the Government will make martyrs of 225 school boards of trustees by sacking them in response to their withdrawal this week of co-operation over national standards.

    If the Government is contemplating such a reaction, it must reconsider.

    Far better to point out that this small group is simply philosophically opposed to the National-led Government, comprises just 10 per cent of primary and intermediate schools, and is driven by only a handful of people, including two who hope to become Labour MPs.

    That should be at least two.

    Inspired by education academic John Hattie, the Government, from the prime minister down, is anxious to change the fortunes of those who reach secondary school with poor literacy and numeracy skills.

    It was in an effort to fix that disgraceful situation that National vowed during the 2008 election campaign to introduce benchmarks in reading, writing and maths.

    But because it did not consult the unions in devising the standards, teachers have long threatened to frustrate their implementation. Now some schools have acted on those threats.

    Actually the standards themselves are a red herring. The unions have made very clear to the Minister that if she amended the OIA to exempt school assessment data from public access, then all their opposition would drop – as in they would work within the system to improve national standards.

    The calls for trials, for reconsideration etc are pure delaying tactics. I would wager millions of dollars that they would at the end of any trial have exactly the same position as before – unless the OIA is changed to exclude assessment data.

    Yet principals are public servants, obliged to follow the law. Further, their anti-national-standards campaign has a whiff of sexism about it. Anne Tolley is the first female education minister, and the federation campaign to denigrate her every move has not been pretty.

    Thuggish is the term I would use.

    Critics try to denigrate national standards by dismissing them as merely aspirational. But that is precisely what they should be. And in assisting their offspring to aim for them, parents must know what their children are good at, where they need help, and what they as parents can do. It is not too much to ask that those standing in the front of the class get with the programme. They fail those they profess to care about when they do not.

    The unions do not accept that anyone but them has the right to set education policy.

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    There And Back Again

    November 5th, 2010 at 11:46 am by David Farrar

    Had a sudden situation arise late last night where I had to get some stuff up to Auckland CBD by 8 am. Also had an very important 10.30 am meeting in Wellington.

    The only solution was I caught the 0630 flight to Auckland, had someone grab the stuff off me at the airport and then caught the 0830 flight back to Wellington.

    That’s a first for me – not even making it outside before returning home.

    The Air NZ staff were puzzled to see me flying back an hour after I landed. They were like “Didn’t you just get here”.

    Is a very weird feeling to have flown to Auckland and back, and the time is yet to reach 10 am.

    The big irony is I am flying up to Auckland again tomorrow morning for three days. Any increase in Air NZ’s profit this year will be partly due to me!


    Watkin on mid-terms

    November 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

    Tim Watkins at Pundit has a good analysis of the mid-terms. I agree with most of it, but want to elaborate on a few points:

    Americans have voted out the party in power for three elections in a row. That’s unusual… remember, the Democrats controlled the House for 40 years not so long ago. Lots of Americans seem intent on voting for change again and again until they find what they like.

    It is unusual for the House to be so volatile. The Democrats held it for 40 years from 1954 to 1994, and only lost it for four years between 1930 and 1954 also. At the Carter mid-terms the Dems lost 15 seats only. The Reagan revolution saw them lose 35 seats. The the first Reagan midterm saw the GOP lose 26. In 1984 they actually gained 16 and the second Reagan mid term saw a drop of 5 only. Bush I succeeding saw no change – a loss of two only. Bush I mid term saw a loss of only eight and when Clinton won, the Dems actually lost nine seats.

    1994 was the famous revolution with 54 seats to the GOP breaking a 40 year drought. It was then very stable – changes were (for GOP) -4, -3, -2, +8, +2 until 206 when they lost 32 seats. 2008 saw a further 21 seats. And then 2010 is looking like a massive 65 seat pickup.

    They won’t ever find what they like, because what many are looking for is a more secure world where America ruled the world. They want the 1950s or, at a stretch, the 1980s back. They want to be the dominant power. They want job growth in manufacturing. They want no China or Brazil or Iran or India.

    Partly. But also a lot of people don’t want trillion dollar deficits.

    • The junior senator for Illinois was too green for the White House and got played by those who revel in the Washington swamp.
    • Hillary Clinton would have been a more successful president these past two years.

    I agree with both of these points. I don’t think Obama has been a terrible President. He has though performed about as well as I would expect any President whose senior political experience was two years as a Senator (technically four years but he basically started campaigning after two). Senators have little managerial experience – their office staff of 30 or so. Governors have normally managed state governments of tens of thousands.

    Obama misread his first two years. He wanted to govern from the centre, and so wasted months on healthcare trying to get bi-partisan support while he was being demonised as a socialist, death-panel-creating monster. If he wanted to start with healthcare he should have rammed it through, given the mandate he had and then tacked back to the centre. Or he should have started with something else.

    The irony is that his his eventual reform was so watered down that it does little apart from making it illegal for poor people not to have health insurance. Seriously.

    Having the presidency, the House and the Senate doesn’t do the dominant party much good because they cop all the blame for everything.

    Yes. And this is why 2012 is far from certain. Having said that the GOP had all three wings in 2002 and got re-elected in 2004. Of course John Kerry helped.

    And people will turn on the Republicans, because for all their big talk on spending cuts, the only way to really eat into the deficit is to cut something people love, such as Social Security or Medicare or bombs.

    I’m not sure they are as sacred as they used to be. There is a mood for change. The deficit is unsustainable and something must go. The public may reward honesty.

    The Republicans claim the American people are calling for a repeal of healthcare and cuts to government spending. That’s a misinterpretation. Spending cuts sound good until they hit your state, your town, your job.

    Spending cuts can be unpopular in the short term, but having 1/4 of your tax go on interest payments is even more unpopular. And if taxes are kept low, then private sector activity can replace the government spending.

    The Tea Party did OK, but not great. They’re harnessing a mood of protest, but not because even all their supporters know and believe their policies. They’re essentially libertarians and as such remain fringe.

    They’re libertarians but with around 25%+ support. Until the deficit comes down, they will remain potent.

    Sarah Palin cannot win the presidency.

    I agree. But she will probably select the Republican candidate. She has become the endorser in chief.

    The economy is likely to be better in 2012, in part because of Obama’s stimulus. He will have a better narrative and a better chance.

    Ha, the same stimulus which was going to prevent unemployment from reaching 7.5%, and instead had it reach 10%.

    Ex-CEOs such as Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman couldn’t win, even spending tens of millions of their own cash. Americans hate corporates even more than they hate politicians, it seems.

    Actually it shows that money does not buy elections, so we do not need repressive laws to prevent people from having their voices heard.

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    General Debate 5 November 2010

    November 5th, 2010 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

    Friday Photo: 5 November

    November 5th, 2010 at 7:37 am by Chthoniid

    One of our smallest native birds- the Gray Warbler. They’re surprisingly easy to hear, & surprisingly challenging to get close enough to photograph.


    Clicking the image will bring up a high resolution, larger view

    Looks like the rain has arrived in Auckland, so plans today look like hunkering down with a ongoing supply of coffee.


    Roger to Deborah

    November 5th, 2010 at 4:49 am by David Farrar

    Roger Kerr blogs:

    Deborah Hill Cone is one of my favourite journalists.

    Her cosmopolitan reading habits are unique in the New Zealand media, and she’s generally no slouch in business and economic commentary either.

    But she must have got out on the wrong side of the bed the day she wrote ‘Dream of success keeps slipping away’ (New Zealand Herald, October 22, 2010).

    She wrote that New Zealand is losing its place in the international league tables and that nothing we have done has made a jot of difference.

    A reading of yesterday’s 2025 Taskforce report will cheer her up.  It confirms – see the graph on p4 – that New Zealand kept pace with the average per capita growth rate of the OECD as a whole following the earlier economic reforms, only falling away in the last years of the 1999-2008 Labour government.  In other words, the long-term decline relative to the OECD was arrested (although Australia did a bit better).  OECD projections suggest that New Zealand will outperform the OECD average to 2025.

    Polices do make a difference. I have not had time to go through the 2025 taskforce policies in depth but may get time next week to do so.

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    Principals behind boards campaign

    November 5th, 2010 at 4:42 am by David Farrar

    Whale Oil reports:

    I have been leaked emails show­ing the co-ordination and organ­i­sa­tion inter­nally of the so called Board of Trustees revolt. What is appar­ent is that this isn’t an action being orches­trated by Boards, it is instead being run by the NZEI and the unionised prin­ci­pals. The Boards seem not to have been informed let alone the par­ents of the schools named in the revolt.

    Here are two emails from Perry Rush, Prinic­pal of Island Bay School. The first email makes it clear that Board Chairs may well have not been fully informed, or informed at all about the pend­ing action.

    You can read the e-mails at Whale.

    The principals of course are doing this during the working day, from work premises. In other words us taxpayers are funding their campaign.

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    November 4th, 2010 at 8:20 pm by David Farrar

    To my surprise my status as co-chair of The American Politics Appreciation Society got me an invite to the reception for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Around two dozen people there all expressed amazement – not at me being there, but that I was wearing a suit. I explained that if they were the most powerful woman in the world, then I’d might wear a suit for them also.

    Audrey Young snapped this photo of my brief conversation with Hillary, which mainly consisted of me saying how popular Chelsea was with those who got to meet her, when she was here in 1999.

    Clinton and McCully spoke for around 20 minutes. Clinton is the absolute political professional – excellent at speaking with few notes, and working a room. She of course spent over a year campaigning to be President and came closer than any other woman has to winning that job. A lot of the discussion was about whether she might still manage it – either in 2016 (my theory) or 2012 (the theory of the stupid people who don’t understand a Cabinet Minister can not challenge a President). By 2016 she will be 69, but the US is not so anti older politicians – plus she looks considering younger than she is.

    I’m actually more optimistic about Obama’s chances of re-election than most I chatted to there. If the economy improves, his chances will improve. Also the GOP controlled House may overplay its hand and get a backlash. Last but not least the choice of Republican candidate will be crucial.

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    VSM already working

    November 4th, 2010 at 3:02 pm by David Farrar

    Just received this e-mail:

    Amazing – I’ve been going to Vic since 2004 and never been asked to comment on the services VUWSA provides before. Amazing what VSM can achieve – they actually have to check that they’re relevant to students!

    What she is referring to is a online survey VUWSA have commissioned from TNS. The survey says:

    This survey is your chance to direct VUWSA about which services you think are important and how well you think they are performing.

    It is great VUWSA are doing something they have never done before – asked students what they think on issues and on what VUWSA should be doing. This is exactly what VSM is about – giving an incentive for student associations to be responsive to their members.

    Labour and Greens are 100% committed to repealing VSM, so that students will lose any choice over joining a student association, and so VUWSA can go back to ignoring students – rather than asking them their opinions.

    I encourage all Vic students to take part of the VUWSA survey. If Labour win the next election, they may never ever again be asked their opinion – this may be your only chance.

    I would also encourage all other associations to consisder doing such a survey also- it may help you survive. Asking your members what they think is the first step in a process towards becoming responsive, accountable and eventually valuable.

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    iPredict election stocks

    November 4th, 2010 at 2:49 pm by David Farrar

    iPredict released stocks today on who will win the Maori seats next year, and Epsom and Ohariu. Earlier this week also stocks on what each party will get as party vote in the election.

    The current prediction for the election, is:

    1. National 46.3%, 59 seats
    2. Labour 36.6%, 46 seats
    3. Greens 6.9%, 8 seats
    4. NZ First 3.6%, 0 seats
    5. Maori, 3.7%, 5 seats
    6. United 0.3%, 1 seat (overhang)
    7. ACT 1.9%, 2 seats

    So you need 61 of 121 seats to govern. National/ACT/United are 62 seats. With Maori they are 67 seats. It shows the importance of ACT being there.

    Labour/Greens are 54 seats. With Maori Party they could make 59 seats. Close but not quite there.

    National is well ahead of Labour in the polls, but iPredict shows people think that come the election things will be closer. I agree.


    Q3 2010 HLFS

    November 4th, 2010 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

    The third quarter Household Labour Force Survey is out. The headline is that unemployment is down 0.5% which is good news. But as always, the interesting stuff is beyond the headline.

    • 22,000 new jobs seasonally adjusted
    • 10,000 of the jobs are FT and 13,000 PT
    • 10,000 fewer unemployed
    • 5,000 re-enter the labour force
    • The number of under 20s in employment continues to decline – has shrunk 15,000 in nine months. This is a result of the stupidity of abolishing the youth minimum wage in 2008. By contrast those aged 20 – 24 have increased by5,000 in the same period.
    • Unemployment in Wellington down to 4.8% despite downsizing public service
    • Job growth is in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, utilities, retail, transport and ICT. Big drop in construction.
    • NZ is ranked 11th out of 33 OECD countries for lowest unemployment rate. The OECD average is 8.5%

    So most of the stats are moving the right way, but the under 20s continue to be priced out of employment.

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    November 4th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

    Actually it says I got 7/10 but I accidentally hit the wrong answer in one question. Quiz here. 27 seconds.

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    Copyright termination terminated – for now

    November 4th, 2010 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

    Overall the changes made by the Select Committee to the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill represent an improvement. I’m especially pleased that they have effectively shelved for now the termination provisions, as I thought that would set a bad precedent. What are the changes?

    • The definition of an ISP has been narrowly defined to cover traditional ISPs and exclude universities, busineses and the like who might provide Internet access but are not really ISPs. This is a good change
    • The definition of file sharing has been tightened so it won’t cover downloading a single file off a website etc. Has to involve using file sharing technology. Also a good change.
    • Those given notices have an extra week now to challenge them – also good.
    • ISPs are no longer required to consider whether to accept, reject or refer on challenges to rights holders – all challenges get passed onto rights holders
    • No lawyers at Copyright Tribunal hearings unless very good cause. Yay.
    • Now for the bad one – they have recommended that an allegation from a rights holder will constitute burden of proof which must be rebutted. This is dangerous. Google has given evidence that around 30% of the notices they have received in the US are false or incorrect. I think the Copyright Tribunal should be left to its own devices to decide if an infringement notice from a rights holder meet burden of proof. Different rights holders may establish different levels of reliability. I hope the Government will consider amenemdents to this at committee of the whoel stage.
    • The committee have said that any damages should include a punitive element, and not merely compensation. I partially agree. Compensation only would not provide any disincentive. However any punitive damages should be linked to the level of lost revenue. I see it like the IRD with 100% penalties. If you download $100 of music then you could get fined say $200 and if you download $500 of movies then the fine may be $1,000. But if the punitive damages are unliked to the offending then you may have someone fined $15,000 for downloading one song.
    • The provisions for a Court to order an Internet account to be suspended for six months have themselves been suspended. The Minister can activate them by order in council, but only if other penalties are seen not to have worked. Not a bad compromise. I;d rather no provision at all, but this is a lightyear better than what was in the law passed by Judith Tizard and Parliament in 2008.

    The Greens have said they support the bill going forward, but think Internet suspension should be out of there entirely – not just held in reserve. I agree.

    Ai I said, overall this improves the bill, and the bill itself was a huge improvement on the old S92A. MPs, and Simon Power, have done a good job of dealing with some challenging and complex issues.

    However, the bill can be made better still – a universal burden of proof assumption is not warranted, and I hope MPs will consider further enhancements to the bill at the next stage.

    No tag for this post.

    Did the boards consult parents

    November 4th, 2010 at 9:18 am by David Farrar

    A number of commenters have pointed out that the boards which have said they will not co-operate with the Ministry, did not consult any of the parents to whom they are accountable over their decisions. One parent sent me this letter they also sent to the Minister:

    Two of my children attend Island Bay primary school, in southern Wellington.

    The Board of Trustees recently provided a newsletter to parents advising that Island Bay school would not be complying with the requirements of the National Standards policy.  This appears to represent a change in position by the newly-elected Board, and replaces an earlier resolution (reproduced on the Principal’s Federation website opposing National Standards) in which the then Board decided to comply with the requirements of the policy, while formally resolving that it did not support the policy.

    The newsletter to parents states that the Board has resolved to write to you and to the Secretary of Education directly informing you of the position.  They may not, however, have informed you of the poor process used in reaching the decision.  We requested copies of Board papers considered in reaching the Board’s decision, and were informed that there were none.  There was also no ex ante consultation with parents.  The school advertised an open meeting at which it was stated that the Principal would articulate his (well known) views on National Standards: in fact, this meeting proved to be simply a vehicle for the Principal to explain the Board’s decision.  We asked for a copy of the presentation slides used at this meeting and were refused -  almost certainly a breach of the Official Information Act.

    As a parent and as a taxpayer, I support the Government’s apparent desire to lift the performance of our education system and, as part of that, to provide parents and taxpayers with better information on the performance of our schools.  I am relatively indifferent at present on the specifics of National Standards themselves, and regret that the National Party stepped away from, for example, the approach to education reform taken in its 2005 manifesto.

    But the critical point now is that government policy, backed not only by a clear electoral mandate but also by legislation, must be, and be seen to be, implemented.  The Island Bay Board of Trustees, and their employee the Principal, are simply refusing to do that.  State schools are Crown entities.  Most parents have little effective choice but to use state schools.  We therefore expect that you and your ministry ensure that those charged with the management and governance of those Crown entities, which deliver formal education to our children, do their job.  I fully respect the right of individual members of the Board of Trustees, and of staff, to disagree with the policy and its application.  But they have an obligation -  not just a moral obligation, but nothing less than that – to implement it.  If they, as a matter of conscience, decide that they cannot implement it they must, as matter of moral obligation, resign.  But if they won’t, you have a responsibility to dismiss them.  You act for parents, for children, for taxpayers, and for the rule of law.  I therefore urge you to make clear to the Island Bay Board of Trustees that they must either quickly comply or face dismissal.  If there are no sanctions, the policy itself risks failing before it has ever been given a serious trial.

    It is worth noting that very few schools are actually refusing to implement national standards. The 10% have merely said they will not tell the Ministry what their targets are.

    I don’t think the Govt should sack non complying boards – that is what Simon Mitchell and co want – to be martyrs. I would just freeze discretionary funding. No access to capital funding for buildings or computers. Bottom of the priority list for connection to fibre etc etc.

    Meanwhile Phil Goff has come out and shown he does not understand the issue. The Herald reports:

    Labour leader Phil Goff said the system the Government was trying to ram into place wouldn’t succeed.

    “Schools should be required to use the world-leading assessment tools already in place, not be required to use this untested, unclear and confusing system National is trying to impose on them,” he said.

    Goff does not seem to understand that national standards is not a replacement for the world-leading assessment tools already in place. No school using them is being told or even encouraged to stop.

    All national standards involve, are two additional steps.

    1. You take the results of these assessment tools, and moderate them against the national standards to place a student in one of (off memory) four categories.
    2. You report their position against the national standards – not instead of all the other info, but on top of

    That’s it.

    The unions, and Labour, just don’t want parents to have this additional info. Here are some comments made yesterday by parents:

    As a parent of 4 “children” having gone through mixture of schooling – public, USA, private and tertiary. Our son (my step-son) went through the public school system. When he got to year 6, we discovered he was way behind and could barely write a sentence. All his reports to this point had stated that although he was low on the scale, he was still in the range of normal for his age – using their scale which was sent home with the report. His teachers had never expressed any problems at any of the parent teacher interviews my husband went to, till his teacher in Year 6 took the told us there was a real problem. His teacher for 3 years running prior to this was the Vice Principal of the school.

    Sadly, it was too late by then, Early identification allows for early intervention.


    General Debate 4 November 2010

    November 4th, 2010 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

    US mid term elections live update

    November 3rd, 2010 at 1:29 pm by David Farrar

    1635: Had a meeting to attend. The Republicans are doing better in the House than expected but have not won some Senate races where they were looking competitive. Harry Reid looks to have survived in Nevada which will come as a big relief to the Dems, and may be a lesson for the Republican base about getting then balance right between electability and core voter appeal.

    In the House 538 now predicts that a 54 seat pick up (equal to what they got in the 1994 revolution) is the minimum they are projecting and it could go into the 60s

    1348: Democrats Joe Manchin retains West Virginia for the Democrats. This pretty much confirms the Dems will hold the Senate.

    1329 Now at the Malt House with a dozen others. TVs are rotating between Fox and CNN to keep everyone happy.

    At this stage it is clear that the Republicans will take the House. I think the real issue is whether or not they will beat the 54 seat pick up of 1994.

    Equally clear is a takeover of the Senate will not happen, unless there is a major upset. But the long term game for the GOP is not 51 seats in 2010 but to get 60 seats by 2014. If they get to 48 seats they will be well positioned for that.

    Rubio has effectively won the Florida Senate seat.


    Labour candidate breaches bail terms say Police

    November 3rd, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

    The Herald reports:

    Two men facing forgery charges following a bid to influence the Super City election allegedly ignored a court order to not speak with each other.

    Daljit Singh and an associate, who has name suppression, appeared in Manukau District Court yesterday after being arrested for allegedly breaching bail.

    The pair were granted bail on October 5 but one of the conditions was that they were forbidden from speaking to each other. The two men were again granted bail yesterday.

    When there was an inquiry into Taito Philp Field, he went around everyone telling them what to say – additional offences he got convicted on.

    The purpose of the Court telling defendants not to speak to each other is often to stop then conspiring on a story, so history seems to be repeating itself.

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    Labour desperate for every last dollar of tax

    November 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

    Gift duty brought in $1.8 million to the Government. It costs the Goverment $900,000 to collect it so net revenue is $900,000. The private sector compliance cost for all the returns etc was estimated at $70 million. So seems like a no brainer.

    But nope, Goff led Labour think imposing a $70 million cost on NZers to collect a net $900,000 of extra revenue is a good thing, the Herald reports:

    The scrapping of gift duty, announced by the Government on Monday, represents a tax cut by stealth for the wealthiest New Zealanders, Labour leader Phil Goff says.

    “The abolition allows the very wealthiest New Zealanders to structure their affairs by transferring income and assets into trusts and to their children to reduce their tax liability,” he said.

    I despair of the Opposition.  I really do. Their politics of envy. If they even bothered to read the facts they would realise the very wealthiest are already transferring income and assets. The fact gift duty only collects $1.8 million a year is proof of that.

    Just imagine – if Labour is willing to cost NZers $70 million a year to collect $900,000 of extra net revenue – just so it can say it is punishing rich pricks, how far will it go with hiking the top tax rate?

    The really stupid thing about Goff’s statements are that as we have no death duties anymore, one can pass your savings onto your kids tax free by just keeping them until you die. But if you wish to say help your child with a contribution towards the deposit for their first home, then you get whacked with gift duty.

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    Ministerial blog poll results November 2010

    November 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

    Okay over 600 votes in a couple of days. So let’s look at the results. Not remember these are not scientific results, but they do give some idea of the sentiments of Kiwiblog readers over time.

    First we have the net approval ratings. This is the % who give an above average rating less the % who give a below average rating. The results are, with previous results, below.

    Net Approval Nov-10 Aug-09 May-09 Mar-09
    Key 65% 43% 57% 67%
    English 40% 31% 44% 54%
    Brownlee 27% 12% 6% 2%
    Power 23% 31% 41% 54%
    Ryall 60% 43% 47% 43%
    Smith -23% -15% -8% 27%
    Collins 53% 51% 37% 46%
    Tolley 13% 3% 13% 21%
    Finlayson 36% 47% 52% 53%

    So in terms of net approval eight out of nine Ministers have a positive rating. The exception is Nick Smith, and in my opinion that is probably more a reflection of sentiment on the ETS.

    Six Ministers have improved their ratings since last August, and three have dipped. Those three are Power, Smith and Finlayson. There is perhaps a common theme of some discontent with certain policies coming through.

    The nine Ministers in order of net approval are Key, Ryall, Collins, English, Finlayson, Brownlee, Power, Tolley and Smith. Note these are the blog poll ratings – not my personal views.

    The PM has had a big lift in approval from last year – perhaps a combination of the Earthquake and the Hobbit movies. he has reclaimed the top spot.

    English seems to have recovered from the housing issues of 2009 also, and has a solid +40% ratings

    Gerry Brownlee would probably get the prize for most improved – from a +2% in Mar 2009 to +27% today.

    Simon Power has gone the other way – he was 2nd highest in March 2009 and is in 7th place now. Perhaps the talk of regulating the Internet has not helped.

    Ryall and Collins basically continue to have excellent ratings – Ryall especially has had a big jump up.

    Nick Smith remains at No 9. Again, I think this is partly because of his portfolios.

    Anne Tolley gains 10% from last year and seems to be gaining some fans for her refusal to be cowed by the unions.

    Chris Finlayson retains a solid rating but has dropped a fair bit – no doubt linked to the Foreshore & Seabed issues.

    Now let’s look at what I call the weighted average. This is where you assign a weight of 100% for very good, 75% for good, 50% for average, 25% for poor and 0% for very poor. This calculation captures the intensity of approval and disapproval, and anything over 50% signifies an above average rating.

    Weighted Average Nov-10 Aug-09 May-09 Mar-09
    Key 79% 68% 76% 80%
    English 63% 60% 66% 70%
    Brownlee 57% 53% 50% 49%
    Power 58% 61% 66% 71%
    Ryall 76% 67% 70% 66%
    Smith 39% 43% 44% 58%
    Collins 73% 73% 66% 70%
    Tolley 53% 49% 53% 57%
    Finlayson 64% 68% 71% 71%

    Three Ministers are in the 70s – Key, Ryall and Collins. In the 60s we have Finlayson and English. The 59s have Power, Brownlee and Tolley and Nick Smith at under 50%.

    So overall sentiment about most Ministers is up from 14 months ago – close to the what it was in the first half of 2009.

    I’ll try and remember to do another of these in the 1st half of 2011.

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