Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

The end of an era

The Thorndon Bubble is leaving blogspot, and moving to it’s new site at http://www.thorndonbubble.org. I will leave the old website up for a few days until I delete it permanently. I have imported the posts from the old site, so you won’t lose anything (important for those who are using aggregators to compile blog posts), although i wonder how many people still link to this old site.

When I think about when I set up the first blog, it was always my intention to expand the website, and I knew that meant leving the blogspot nest and setting up my own website eventually. I hope that you all find the website useful and informative, but more importantly, I hope you stick around.

The Bubble hits the airwaves

Well to be honest, Geoff Hayward is. I'll be on the new VBC station (88.3FM) every Tuesday morning from 10 - 10.30 am. Topics will be around three major headings: Campus, National and International political topics.

So, Tune in to the VBC tommorrow.

2007 Treaty Debate Series at Te Papa

6.30-8.00pm. Soundings Theatre, Level 2, Te Papa Tongarewa.
Free entry.

Thursday 1 February: Fishing for answers - Māori and the Fisheries

In the three decades since the widening of the Waitangi Tribunal's powers to investigate historic claims we have heard the contemporary meaning of Article 2 of the Treaty debated extensively, culminating, in part, in the passing of the Maori Fisheries Act in September 2004. What does this development mean for Maori commercial fishing and the future relationship of Māori and Pākehā with the sea?

Thursday 8 February: The Big Picture - Where is the Treaty?
The term 'living document' has become synonymous with the Treaty of Waitangi in this country, with its three short articles being debated in contexts their original signatories could never have imagined. With so much interpretation and analysis, will the original intentions of this document remain, and does it have a place in the multicultural society of our future?

After attending last year's series, I highly recommend going. Details on the speakers are here.

The Dom on the money with political apathy

From today's editorial:

"In a settled democracy like this, voters rarely take their right to vote seriously. It is usually only when their little world is on the verge of being up-ended that they get involved. By then, it can be too late, leaving unrealistic expectations and over-the-top invective in its wake. But, if residents and ratepayers want a city, district or region that allows easy living and creates a healthy, wealthy local economy, they need to be prepared to shrug off their apathy. Posting a ballot paper to local voting officials every three years is just not enough."

Decisions are made by those who show up. Although I don't know about a wealhty local economy (maybe it's the socialist in me)

Australian Universities beat NZ at level of investment

And yet somehow, I am not surprised by the report. In fact, the only surprise I have is the opinion I share with the NZVCC with the need for the Government to take University investment seriously. The level of investment, particularly building depth in existing programmes is something I am in favour of, and recent reforms have only hinted at it.

The rhetoric supports “economic transformation”. This transformation requires a commitment to fresh, new ideas, nurtured in high quality research institutions like universities.

But of more importance is the challenge to improving the quality of research and courses within the university. Even the argument “it’s not how much we spend, it’s where we spend it” does not hold water: eventually a severe lack of investment will lower the overall quality of university study. It is time to stop the rot, and give students, current and future, an assurance that the government will be as diligent to improving our universities, as students are in improving their grades. When buildings crumble, so will test scores, and who will take the blame for that?

Midterms: my breakdowns

In August, I stated a number of midterm election races that were ones to watch. So, with nearly all of the results in, I thought I should go through and see how they went.


Michigan(Is it the AMWAY?)

It wasn't AMWAY's day: Gramholm securing her second term, beating Dick DeVos. Expect to see her star rise in future years.

California (Can Westley terminate the Governator?)

Perhaps the most dissapointing of races, Schwarzenegger getting home in a canter. But it is perhpas the first time an incumbant has been able to win on (for the most part) 'green' issues...food for thought in later elections, even in NZ.


Connecticut (A Three Way Dance)

This one as well failed to live up to expectations. Lieberman winning the only race that mattered, after losing the DNC nomination. Still, he has vowed to work within the Democrat caucus, which could be seen as an olive branch to his former party, or an attempt to consolidate his position and shut down notions of a repeat in 2012, or it could be that he just could not take the leap to the GOP.

Missouri (History never repeats)

Well, it did, but not for Talent. This was a barn burner, with the result being close, and a campaign that was muddied with the state referendum on stem cells and the appearance of actor Michael J. Fox, and the controversial comments of Radio Talk show host Rush Limbaugh in response. In the end, McCaskill picking up the swing state.

Rhode Island (it’s all about the electoral math, stupid!)

A bittersweet victory for the Democrats, with Lincon Chafee, one of the most liberal republicans losing his seat, means that the Republican's caucus will be even more on the periphery than before. Bipartisanship just got a bit harder. Unsurprisingly Sheldon Whitehouse won the primary and the Senate election by seven points.

New Jersey (No One Likes Anyone in the Garden State)

Seen by some analysts as a referendum on State Governor (and former Senator) Jon Corzine, this eventually was superseeded with the states dislike for the President's performance, Robert Menendez being elected for a full term (he served the remaining year of Corzine's term)beating the republican candidate, Thomas Kean, Jr by 8%.


Arizona 8 (Kolbe’s out, who’s in?)

This race lived up to it's expectation. Gabrielle Giffords won over a number of challenges for the blue ticket in a marginally red state, going up against Randy Graf (who narrowly lost to the outgoing Jim Kolbe in the 2004 republican primary). Giffords easily beat Graf in the election, replacing the retiring Jim Kolbe, who again, a quite liberal republican (Kolbe is also an openly gay republican) and so the victory is bittersweet for bipartisanship.

Florida 22 (Unlucky 13?)

Another big win for the Democrats, removing stalwart Clay Shaw, a 12 term congressman. Shaw had perhpas his toughest rival in Rob Klein. Klein, who had the weight of the DNC behind him, strong credentials as a fundrasier, and Shaw's own controversies (Shaw had been criticized for refusing to return $30,000 in campaign contributions from ARMPAC: the organisation at the centre of the Tom DeLay scandal)in the end took the state away from the Republicans, in a blue district.

Indiana 8 (The bloody eighth!)

With its long history of incumbents being ousted, this did not dissapoint, with John Hostettler beaten comprehensively by Brad Ellsworth. Hostettler was unable to claw back his dismal popularity (in October they were in the 30-40% range), in spite of his history of wining tough re-elections.

Iowa 1 (Watch the signs)

In a battleground state like Iowa, any race is a useful indicator for the 2008 Presidential Elections. The blue state (although Jim Nussle, a Republican held the seat for 16 years), picked Democrat Bruce Braley over Republican Mike Whalen.

Illinois 8 (The empire strikes back)

Democrat Melissa Bean will be returning for a seond term, consolidating her 2004 win, with 51% of the vote, but well ahead of her major rival, David McSweeney.

Ohio 18 (another Ambroff casualty?)

Robert Ney's involvement in the Abramoff' scandal has cost his party this seat. Zack Space, a suprise winner of the democrat primary, beat Joy Padgett (who also won a tough primary). The result, a 30 point win to Space in a typically red state, is a real slap in the face to the GOP.

Pennsylvania 6 (Run to the hills)

Jim Gerlach repeated his 2004 win against Lois Murphy, right down to the 51% to 49% margin, his tactic of distancing himself from fellow republicans State Senator Rick Santorum (who lost his senate seat) and President Bush paid off...but only just.

Texas 22 (You reap what you sow)

This one will be put into a trophy and hung in the offices of the DNC headquarters. In a seat that only the Republicans could lose, they followed though with aplomb. Because of Tom Delay's bumbling, there was no Republican on the voter form, and the Republicans messing up their campaign for a “write in candidate” (which was expected to be local mayor David Wallace but the party went with Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, creating disunity within the local party apparatus), Nick Lampson won back part of his old district (that DeLay acquired in the 2003 redistricting) as well as his nemisis' seat. Vengance.

An animated version of the midterm results is avaliable here


Humour - Politicians Sweep Midterms

Rumsfeld's fall...wrangling the news cycle

The media is reporting that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has quit. Considering that Democrats including newly elected Senator for Missouri Clare McCaskill had demanded for his resignation, was his departure not just a sacrifice for the appeasement of what looks to be a Democrat dominated Congress but a strategy to wrench the media cycle away from the Democrats. The shock annoucement certainly suggests that they pushed the annoucement...even more so when President GW Bush gave his support in Rumsfeld only days earlier.

And how so!

The vote was anticlimactic, with a 23 vote blow-out. The media specualtion that the vote would be too close to call was in the end unfounded. The NZH has the voting list. I think that the Government's proposed review would have swayed a few to vote no, but this was no sideswipe. It is also the course which might actually bring to light the issues of under enforcement and low resources devoted to education on promoting safer drinking. I don't think that the bill's defeat last night is a success for surmounting New Zealand's drinking culture, but it is a blow for harshly thought out, knee-jerk legislative responses.

I think that the efforts of a united political youth, as part of the “Keep it 18” campaign should be congratulated. They worked very hard and the bill’s defeat should serve as a big pat on the back. I hope that the movement continues to work for more education and enforcement, protecting at risk youth.

PS: The Select Committee report for the defeated bill is here


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