Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

Student loan loophole SOP

New Zealand Government is about to close the repayment loophole by adding a SOP when the amendment bill is in committee next week. The loophole is going to be closed as of today’s announcement.

I also found this interesting:

“The costings for the interest free policy, to be included in the December Economic and Fiscal Update, assume that the volume of voluntary repayments will fall to 20 per cent of their present value over three years.”

UPDATE: According to data published by Statistics NZ, men and women pay off their student loans at the same rate, based on the period 1997 - 2003. The data and analysis can be found here. I agree taht the data series is too small to get any indication of the long term effects. I would certainly like to see if there is any validity in the arguement that the Loan's scheme is more discrimanatory towards women.

During the election, some old university mates and I argued about what the 1999 card promised students. So after some difficulty, I have found the last three Labour party promise cards and I am posting them here so I have an online source. I have written the back of the cards verbatim.



  1. Create jobs through promoting New Zealand industries and better support for exporters and small business.
  2. Focus on patients not profit and cut waiting times for surgery.
  3. Cut the costs of tertiary education, starting with a fairer loans scheme.
  4. Reverse the 1999 cuts to superannuation rates. Guarantee superannuation in the future by putting a proportion of all income tax into a separate fund which cannot be used for any other purpose.
  5. Restore income related rents for state housing so that low income tenants pay no more than 25 per cent of their income in rent.
  6. Crack down on burglary and youth crime
  7. No rise in income tax for the 95 per cent of taxpayers earning under $60,000 a year. No increases in GST or company tax.


“Our commitments to you”

  1. Work with all sectors to create an innovative growing economy with more jobs.
  2. Better access to primary health care so problems can be tackled early.
  3. Keep tertiary education affordable. Get more teachers into schools.
  4. Put government funds aside now to guarantee current superannuation for everyone in the future.
  5. Double the number of modern apprenticeships.
  6. Tougher sentences for the most serious offenders. Moe support for proven programmes to cut youth offending.
  7. No rise in rates of income tax, GST, or company tax.


“My Commitments to You”

  1. No interest on student loans for New Zealand based graduates
  2. 7,500 extra cataract operations and 10,000 extra joint operations in the next term
  3. Final date for lodging historical Treaty claims by 1 September 2008, and commit to finish all claims by 2020
  4. Increase maximum rates rebate to $500 and increase income eligibility thresholds
  5. $1,000 kick start for everyone joining KiwiSaver and up to $10,000 as a grant for couples ($5,000 for single people) saving up to buy their first home
  6. 5,000 extra Modern Apprentices
  7. 250 extra community police on the streets

Some interesting observations:

  • Tertiary education features in all three cards.
  • The phrases “tax”, “youth crime”, “teachers”, “superannuation”, “jobs”, and “company” feature in the first two, but do not in the 2005 card.
  • The Treaty of Waitangi makes its first appearance on the 2005 card.
  • 2002 features no numbered promises, 1999 features one. All but two of the 2005 feature enumerated promises.
  • 2002 features a broader approach, and is more inclusive of the Labour cabinet. Note the use of “Our” rather than “My” commitments in the title and the photo’s of the top 16 cabinet member’s features on the front of the 2002 promise card.
  • No House of Representatives logo on the 1999 or 2002 cards.

China's coal

China, like New Zealand, has an abundance of coal, but the Asian juggernaut is the world’s largest producer of coal, of which the vast majority is used for domestic consumption. The majority of mines have been state owned, but the Chinese government is preparing to reform the coal industry, by opening up the market and providing tighter regulations, to make mines safer.

Not a moment too soon. 134 people dying in a coal mine blast in Qitaihe yesterday is only indicative of a wider problem: the large proportion of small, inefficient mines (around 40% of the Chinese industry), without significant safety measures results in the deaths of between 4000 and 6000 miners each year, depending on the sources.

China’s rampant economic growth requires cheap energy, there is no doubt that the use of coal will continue.

NRT has a post on the consequences of global warming on the world posted here. China will receive a moderate increase in mortality but the poorer western provinces of the nation will suffer most, in the very regions where the coal is being mined, becoming less arable and inhospitable.

China has been attempting to clean up its production of ‘clean’ coal in line with the Kyoto protocols, yet the unending desire for energy and the abundance of cheap coal means that nothing short of drastic and unpalatable reforms will move China away from coal.

Small cookies

With Parliament in recess for the week, news is slow and almost trivial. Today’s papers have National defending its position as the largest opposition party vetoing appointments on select committees for the minor parties, not inside the governmental arrangement.

For the record, more proportionality is better in the select committee, irrespective of the loss of time for each group to contribute. Select committees by their virtue needs as large and varied a debate as possible: to identify weaknesses and inadequacies and develop solutions and recommendations. To even restrict the appointment of non voting MPs on the committee restricts the dialogue, not enlarge it. Majoritism is better for the House, where decisions have to be made, but each member is equal in debate.

National has also found some straws to clutch at, with allegations directed towards the Greens party advertising for two vacancies for advisors to the solar, energy and buy NZ made programs that have been picked up by the Government. National’s worried about the lack of accountability of Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens, List) and Sue Bradford (Greens, List) to answer questions on related issues. This one doesn’t seem like it will be resolved any time soon.

Oh how we wait for some more important news.

Maori party politicking for FSA repeal votes

The Maori party has quickly learnt that compromise and collaboration with ideologically opposed political parties since the election. One of their election promises, the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 is a step closer to fruition. The Maori party is in the process of drafting a Member’s bill on the matter. While it is still early days, the party has been getting a headcount of their support. Two parties (not one) do strike me as difficulties for the Maori party

  1. United Future has been widely publicized as the party that can make the difference, making no preference to vote either way.

  1. The National Party, who has agreed in principle, but their commitment, is dependant on the wording of the legislation.

Any proposed legislation will be an exercise in political balance. The legislation cannot be strong enough in empowering Maori within the courts or installing any structure that facilitates the conversion of customary title to actual title, but National would do well to not push the Maori party away, after the attempts to soften their line on Maori and Treaty issues and then within the same week, blast the UN’s preliminary report on looking into NZ’s Race relations. At the same time, there has been no indication what would take UF to support the repeal bill. Pita Sharples on Morning Report this morning did however sound like the party was easy to the issue, prepared to do whatever is necessary to get the votes. It’s probably the only factor that keeps them so confident.

Peters v Clarkson

Allegations against Bob Clarkson (National, Tauranga) will have their day in court in a week long hearing starting today. Actually the hearings are going to be held in the Tauranga City Council Chambers as the city does not have a High Court. (I chuckle at the thought, Tauranga is larger than Rotorua, but Rotorua has a High Court!)

If the petition refers to allegations of campaign overspending by Mr Clarkson. Candidates in the 2005 election were allowed $20,000 as a limit. Clarkson is alleged to have funded phone lobbying to electors during the campaign, amongst other things.

If Clarkson is found to be culpable, then the MPs seat will be declared vacant, and a by election is called, to which Mr. Clarkson cannot stand. Winston Peters (the applicant of the petition and the former MP for the electorate) can of course stand. Mr Clarkson is of course upbeat of his chances.

Two questions, to which I would like to be answered:

Who orders the seat vacant, the court or the Speaker of the House?

Can National place another candidate in a proposed by-election?

CHOGM talking points

Leaders and memory: which is worse?

The Guardian on Angela Merkel:

“…What hasn't really sunk in among her voters in the western part of the country, though, is the fact that she is from East Germany. She was an ardent member of a communist youth organisation and has no idea who won the World Cup in 1966, with a goal that didn't cross the line. Geoff Hurst means nothing to her. That, come to think of it, remains an unsettling aspect of Angela Merkel - considering that her nation will host the World Cup next year.”

Or, Sky News on British Conservative Party combatants David Cameron and David Davis:

“…Do either of you know the name of the President of Iran?"

For a moment, both men studied their plastic lecterns, hoping for inspiration. After a pause, they came up with their answer, a resounding "No!"

"It's er, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," said Adam Boulton, consulting his notes.

"Alright, next one. Do either of you know the name of the President of Iraq."

"Talabani," said David Cameron.

"That's it," mumbled David Davis, still examining his lectern.

"OK," said Adam Boulton, "and we'll give David Davis first call on this.. the Prime Minister of Iraq.. "

"No" said Mr Davis.

The question was thrown over to Mr Cameron. "Er no," he said "but I got Talabani. That's one out of two."

"Ibrahim Jaafari" said Boulton as he moved the discussion on…”

Peter’s approach of appealing for fairness is one week late. He should have tried to appeal to the media in the first instance at APEC rather than into a Mexican Standoff with the national media.

He will find ice skating uphill an easier task that rebuiling any trust with the media.

Ecoomic indicator tidbits for October

The number of advertised jobs decreased for the first time since 1993, a possible indication of a slowing economy. The number of vacancies was down 3% for the 12 month period to October. Crown cash flow is $0.2 billion, above expectations, and the government has also exceeded expectations, collecting 174 million in tax for the year to October. The latency of government’s revenue generation means that we probably won’t see any drop in the amounts reaching the government coffers yet, watch this space.

PSA on bloggers, part II

The November 2005 edition of the PSA Journal has an article on blogging in the workplace for those in the public sector. They include four simple rules (from p.27):

  1. Read, and follow, your employer’s code of conduct and IT policy
  2. Office laptops are not personal property – if you use them to surf for inappropriate material at home you will get caught
  3. If in doubt, don’t forward it
  4. Don’t blog or post comments about your job or work mates

Hmmmm. Simple enough, wouldn’t you say.

The Thorndon Bubble added to Scoop's Blogroll

So, here's a link to Scoop Independent News

Thanks you great jokers at Scoop!


Just a little humour to lighten up the day.

Prima facie: vultus permissum deceptio

Prima facie means first view. Legally the term means that at the first look of the evidence presented; which is without examination, nor allowed full disclosure of all of the available evidence by both plaintiffs and defendants, there is a justification to process in court, by trial and judge. It is by no means a smoking gun.

Therefore, there is no validity that David Benson Pope (Labour, South Dunedin) has lied in the House. It is a technicality that has been overlooked, by Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) and Judith Collins (National, Clevedon) who wish for the matter to be brought to the privileges committee. He has not been conclusively shown to have lied, any punishment he would receive would be excessive and unjust unless a court of law shown Benson-Pope to be guilty.

That does not mean that the loyal opposition can hold onto any additional level of trust they may have in conduct of the Minister for Social Development, in fact I wonder how much they reserved for him above of privilege. The entire affair has meant that he will be under extra pressure to serve the New Zealand Public. But no one is going to deny the confidence that PM Clark and the Labour caucus (By electing him to the cabinet) has in him is misplaced or insane in spite of the allegations surrounding him, although I am sure the National caucus will certainly try.

First looks can be deceiving. And the law says we should give Mr. Benson-Pope the benefit of the doubt, until a court declares otherwise.

Energy issues are not exclusive to NZ the UK has recently been debating the skyrocketing cots of energy, with PM Blair proposing new nuclear power reactors for generation as a solution.

In NZ, Meridian wants to build one of the worlds largest wind warms. There is no doubt that the groups against wind generation will generate more wind on the issue. But to those who are so against the aesthetics of wind turbines, how do they feel about the appearance of a nuclear power plant on the landscape, let alone a thermal electric plant. Forget letting surrounding land being used for grazing, that won’t happen with a nuclear station, but it does with the wind farms NZ has. The only valid argument so far is the one that wind farms generate an irritating sound to their ears. I think the proposed proliferation of nuclear plants in the UK irritates my ears, an irritation matched only by the myopic attempt to consider coal as a long term option for New Zealand’s energy troubles.

John Tamihere, former MP for Tamaki Makaurau has found his old nest again, returning to the Waipareira Trust Board in spite of his connection to allegations that put the Trust into disrepute, leading to a constitutional amendment that was overturned last night.

Has Mr. Tamihere a passion for revenge? Has Labour seen the last of him? No one can deny that Tamihere had a high profile in West Auckland and his name was known by some throughout the country before he was an MP and by returning him to the board, he has found himself in a position to consolidate his position and perhaps attempt to get back at his former party colleagues. I would not put it past him. His inclusion on the trust board has left division within the trust and if he were genuine, he may have let sleeping dogs lie.

National and their flipflip on Maori issues

Let’s link in three stories into one. Yesterday DPF wrote on the unlikelihood of the National party shifting it’s stance on Maori and Treaty issues. This was his response to the maiden speeches of members of the National caucus members, like Chris Tremain (National, Napier). Tony Milne wrote a more balanced argument showing the enlarged caucus means that the issues are in play and the older members cannot progress a pseudo 1950s outlook without consequence. I am agreement with him, but what has cemented the party leaderships atrophy on the issue was the flip flop disease being caught by Gerry Brownlee (National, Ilam), best explained by NRT.

So I have two questions, that I am patient to await answered after NRT’s and Tony’s?

  1. Where is the justification to the National Party's policy on Maori and Treay issues so articulated as part of their mainstream NZ campaign?
  2. To those who voted for the National Party on the basis of those policies: can they have their votes back?

Video of today's Starbucks Strike

Scoop has posted a video link of the the world's first strike by Starbucks staff, in Auckland, New Zealand.

Also, here is the link to the protester's campaign site

Super Size My Pay

No Prosecution for David Benson-Pope

The Police has finished their allegations into David Benson-Pope (Labour, Dunedin South) and have found no reason to prosecute. The allegations arose affter a question put to the now minster of Social Development and Environment by Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) and Judith Collins (National, Clevedon)in May this year. Police have determined that there is prima facie case but the fact that Benson-Pope is now an MP and the allegations had not surface in the 22 year period since they occured, but after he gained a higher profile, there was no public interest in continuing the matter.

DPF has previously posted on the likely reaction from the right to the allegations and as he not states "The matter is not out of the woods."

Even better news for exporters

The Fed is close to stopping its recent run of 12 interest rate rises, and the NABE is suggesting a another strong year of economic growth in the US.

With the US as New Zealand's second largest export target, it means better times for NZ exporters.

Ok, where's my obvious stick

AP is reporting that overweight children are more at risk for broken bones and joint problems....well, isn't that obvious?

The conservative battle: democratic drama

The Conservative Party leadership is being contested at the moment, with a series of 11 hustings across the UK. I don’t think I can remember a similar situation occurring with any political party in NZ, leaders have been elected at the party conferences or deposed in leadership coups. This contest is more like an American party primary, with the candidates politicking for support.

So welcome to The West Wing: Tory

The battle surrounds the two main candidates, who polled higher than all other challengers at the party’s conference in October:

David Cameron

MP for Whitney. Currently holds the shadow education portfolio. Since being elected the House in 2001, has rapidly moved through the party ranks. At this years party conference he gave an unprepared speech that turned the tables on his support. Has a history of drug taking, but has refused to comment on any affair that may have occurred before public office. Has support from within the party, and has distant links to the Aristocracy. He is considered to be the front runner for the leadership.

David Davis

MP for Haltemprice and Howden. Currently the shadow Home secretary. MP since 1987, has already failed to win the leadership in 2001, after ruffling feathers soon after joining the caucus. In 2002, after being demoted in the party ranks, He chose not to stand for the leadership again, gaining the sympathy and support of some within the caucus. His attacks on immigration issues in the House at this time, also led to the resignation of the Immigration minister and he achieved a high profile as well as increased support. Not a great public speaker, he has gone from the initial front runner to now trail Cameron after a poor showing at the party conference.

Conservative party members have been issued voting packs by mail, and the polls must be returned by the 5 of December. On December 6, the counts of the ballots will be completed and the Tories will have a new leader. That simple. I wish we had something like that here. Slow, but dramatic.

Anyway there is a blog devoted to the battle here

The last of the TV debates was on this weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it, but a summary is here. And although there has been support from other party members, the Daily Telegraph has refused to support a winner.

Note To Self: 23 November 2005

Note to self: If an allegation appears to have come from your government that embarrasses your closest ally, DO NOT IMMEDIATELY PROSECUTE THE LEAKER. It only validates the rumor.


Stephen on Philosophically Made has a post on a possible solution to the Winston dilemma, check it out here. An interesting situation, but I think that the catalyst will be a continuation of the face off between Peters and the media. With the PM meeting Peters in Malta, she will be wise to sort out the situation: not only Peters’ role, but also get some control over his affairs with the media.


So, instead of wanting a slowdown, firms are preparing for the worst: a bagel…recession. Today’s ANZ business confidence survey has shocked most and experts are puzzled to the exact cause in the confidence tanking:

‘McDermott said it was hard to pin down exactly why firms were so gloomy, "but I'm suspecting that the speeches by the Governor of the Reserve Bank about some of the imbalances and the dangers we're facing and some of the more unusual suggestions by the Minister of Finance have definitely got their attention".’

Yesterday, Dr Michael Cullen (Labour, List) received the incoming briefing for the Finance Minister from the Reserve Bank. The report alluded to numerous risks affecting the inflation pressures. Today he will be undoubtedly working to downplay the situation, and at the same time try to find a way to balance the economy between hyperinflation and recession. It is a tenuous situation, with fiscal policy looking likely to be restrained, with the OCR set to be increased before Christmas. Furthermore, the survey cannot be understated, as the survey reliably shows a factor of economic growth: If you feel poor, you will not spend or invest. So Dr Cullen must come out on a hand holding operation, because he cannot buy their love any time soon

Today’s survey has the number of pessimists at a level not seen since 1988, a massive drop from last month’s survey.

But while things are turning sour at home, it’s not all bad news:

ACA Research surveyed 300 exporters in agriculture, food, beverage, manufacturing, tourism and services sectors for the report developed with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It found that 65 per cent of exporters expected profitability to increase during the next 12 months, up from 55 per cent surveyed in March.

Good news for exporters, see next months survey to continue this trend.

Brand Power

Political parties and their favorite brands.

I don’t know how they figured this out, but I would love to know if we have done it in NZ, or if anyone would be keen to do so. How useful is the data, would you buy something if you knew if it was the favourite of your political opponents:

Drink Carling: Labour Does.

Call Conservative, Phone Orange

Vauxhall: Cars for Liberal Democrats...and their families.

PSA for bloggers

Before anyone attempts to blog material that may force you to lose your job, shut down your blog or get in trouble with the law, read this from the beeb (hat tip Drudge) Most of the details on here apply in NZ as far as I can tell and other sections apply to anyone with some common sense.

PS: If you haven’t written some sort of disclaimer, I suggest you do. To be safe, I would take the effort to get it checked with the lawyers.

UPDATE: From the State Services Commision's Annual Report 2005

"A more recent online development is the rising number of weblogs (or “blogs”). Blogs range in scope from individual diaries to being part of political campaigns or a [companies] business. They range in scale from the writings of one occasional author to the collaboration of numbers of writers. Many weblogs allow visitors to leave public comments.

I am concerned about the potential risks blogs can pose. The existing principles of the Public Service Code of Conduct still apply in this very modern medium and State servants should still be very careful that they do not bring the Public Service into disrepute through their private activities.

In some online forums, there have been various allegations, or personal slurs, made against senior public servants.As for other media, just because an allegation has been made it should not be assumed that it has a solid foundation. It would be regrettable if this new medium gave unjustified currency to baseless accusations. On occasion the entries in some weblogs have amounted to political personal attacks on public servants. It has long been accepted that such attacks ought not to occur in Parliament, or in other forums, because public servants adopt a self-restraining convention of avoiding public response and cannot defend themselves. The web is no different.

The public, and State servants, can be assured that, as State Services Commissioner, I will have a role in investigating any potential online breaches of the Public Service Code of Conduct that are brought to my attention."

The little fight that could

The government was aware that Peters was going to be a weak spot for them, and even Winston remarked at the NZ First Party conference of the difficulty that going into any arrangement with the government was going to cause, but it’s Tuesday and the only piece of news with vitality is Baublegate. Yes, I’m making it a gate now. Oh, how I’m looking forward to Question Time today, because Mr Peters won’t be the only thing offered for the media lunch.

The question is how things got so far this way. As I see it, two things. Nothing else to report, and Winston’s lack of media savvy, has left him few friends in the press gallery.

I’m off to create a timeline of the battle between peters and the media. Will post it sometime soon, maybe on a slow news day ;)

UPDATE: Received this about an hour ago:

Questions for Oral Answer Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Questions to Ministers

1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence
in the Minister of Foreign Affairs; if so, why

Baiting much?


The UNZIADS report for 2005 has been released, with NZ once again showing an increase in newly reported cases of the disease. New cases have now doubled in the past five years, half from homosexual contact, and 90% of heterosexual contact cases were acquired abroad. Overall, for the Oceania region, new cases were down, from 8900 to 8200 for the last 12 months, but another 3000 newly recorded (but sufferers for longer than 12 months) cases were found. The report highlights Papua New Guinea as the largest contributor, with 90% of all new cases in the region. Globally the number of people with HIV/AIDS is now over 40 million, with Sub Saharan Africa (25m), Latin America (1.8m) and South/South East Asia (7.4m) taking the lion's share.

Not to get too depressed with the numbers, in New Zealand 77% of those diagnosed in AIDS in 2000 were still alive four years later compared to 7% of those diagnosed in 1990. The Government has been trying hard to help by providing more resources for treatment. However, the increasing rates of infection demonstrate that the message is not getting through, with people thinking the risks have decreased. Remember all of the TV ads, television shows and publicity that were released in the 1980s? talking about AIDS isn’t as relevvant as it once was it would seem.

Let the market decide?

How clever. The Senlis council, a Pharmaceutical think tank has proposed the licensing of opium production in Afghanistan, rather than actively destroying the crop. The idea solves two problems: the restoration of Afghanistan as the world’s top producer of opiate drugs such as heroin, and the shortage of opiate compounds for painkiller production, like codeine and morphine.

I think the idea has merit, allowing the legitimate use of an existing crop, that helps rather than destroys lives, and allowing those farmers to finally break free of the situation where they are forced to farm the crop to gain an income from the regional warlords. If successful, it could be a major economic success for the nation.

The only problem is what happens to the illicit trading? Will this only accelerate illegal as much as legal production, and have the Senlis Council prepared any strategy to prevent or restrict non legitimate production?

Earlier I posted on the deficiencies of the leadership within the New Zealand National Party and a possible solution to overcoming their obstacles. The success of an election for National is just as dependant upon the fortunes of the Labour Party.

First some assumptions: Let us assume that the current term goes all the way to 2008. Let us also assume that their will be no major events that will be beyond the control of the incumbent government. Let us also assume that Dr Brash does not lead the National party at the next election.

Both parties are in a similar position at the moment, in terms of holding a similar proportion of the party vote, yet needing the crucial center vote to hold power.

The National caucus would in this scenario be undoubtedly led by a young, confident group. They would be showing a freshness and have removed the politicians that have been associated with the last National led administration, considered by some to be ‘used goods’ In comparison, after between six and nine years, Labour’s lineup would be old and have accumulated criticism. There are some rumors that the National party has accrued a lineup of people to run in the next election. But this young, confident group must overcome the accumulated experience of the Labour caucus. Labour is and has always been the progressive of the big two parties. It’s harder to appear so, when you look older than the people you disagree with. A huge effort from the party to snap up a new generation of party members who can match National’s young Turks man for man (or person for person rather) is needed.

Labour has also been the more diverse of the ‘Big Two’. It has support from many more groups. A constant criticism of Labour is ‘they’re always trying to please everyone’ is perhaps the most obvious remark made of them. They are a party of unity. But the unity has been strained by the current arrangements and part of the party’s preparations must be to regain the trust of those who feel betrayed. The core voter groups of the party, notably the unions have drifted away from monochromatic red. Their support during the 2005 campaign was an asset, but their support is not guaranteed. Labour’s greatest campaign strength is the people it can put on the ground. A large volunteer group must be retained to consolidate and increase the party vote, but volunteers have to feel a part of the party, responding to their hopes and dreams, sharing their values.

Many have commented on the arrogant appearance of the party, after their party’s progress on social reform. But the party has only failed to explain their policies in line with their grand vision to New Zealand public, but most importantly, their staunchest supporters. Labour now needs to strengthen their diverse core, before their core is lost to other parties.

Continuing this broader theme of a New Zealand vision, Labour’s image in the recent campaign was not very clear. The initial slogan ‘You’re better off with Labour’ was uninspiring and legitimized the value of National’s policies. At the party’s campaign launch, their slogan “Forward. Together.’ and the video pieces were fantastic and should have been followed into the wider campaign. Labour had tried very hard to keep the campaign positive, until the very end of the campaign with the ‘don’t put it all at risk’. In comparison, the TV advertisements were stale and uninspiring. If the sound was muted, there was no clear message conveyed. On the web, Labour’s website is not brilliant, nor user friendly, but the gone by lunchtime website was funny. Exploiting the power of the internet will be crucial and while data mining will always be a crucial strategy, informing an increasingly internet savvy population, and working in an unconstrained medium such as the internet will make a difference.

I wish to end this on the question of the leadership. Labour has had under Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert) one of the most dynamic periods in New Zealand history and has been on watch over a long economic boom, defying all their critics in the process. PM Clark has also made history as the first peacetime leader to hold three terms as a Labour PM. But the greatest gesture any leader makes is the legacy that a leader leaves, and the leadership that protects that legacy immediately after their absence.

Could Clark lead Labour into another election? Absolutely. Would the chances of victory increase if she was not? Well, it is a tremendous gamble. She would be gambling her experience and skill at campaigning, against her accumulated baggage and lack of vitality against a younger set of candidates. But the leadership issue is only prolonged irrespective of the result, and the issue will certainly be resolved should Clark lose that election. I think it is only fair to suggest the possibility of a leadership change. Unlike John Howard or Tony Blair, Clark has never stated an intention to step down, so it is purely conjecture at the moment.

Looking at the current evidence, Clark looks set to leave the leadership with Michael Cullen (Labour, List) should she leave. It is a sound strategy in terms of stable leadership. As the Leader of the House, Cullen is experienced and has shown leadership and maturity. His public image does make him look tired, greedy and acerbic; he will not be accepted quickly. It should be noted that Clark upon taking the party leadership was not accepted by the NZ public, in fact it took until soon after the 1996 election (by my reckoning, some say the surge in her support happened earlier) before the opinion polls showed that she could be looked to as PM material. But the point was not to lose an election and recover, but rather to build upon the existing support, which is difficult with any change of this magnitude. Thus, Cullen as a manager makes good sense, as leader it makes far less. Let us not discount the possibility of a leadership coup occurring. The danger of that destroys the appearance of unity, and brings back memories of the late 1980s: a party separated, lacking focus and unified vision. Let us also not forget that Jenny Shipley had removed Jim Bolger mid term, in an attempt to refresh the National party’s support, and confront Clark’s emergence, but the rising tide against the National party was much larger than a leadership change could rebuff. Perhaps this is also the same for Labour.

The question that therefore rings forth is, if Cullen isn’t the leader in waiting, then who is? And we come back to the problem faced at the start of this piece, the lack of a popular heir and a caucus of older followers causes a dilemma, one not solved quickly or nicely.

The key to victory lies in a three pronged strategy

  1. Regain the ear of the people and improve the party’s public image: unity.
  2. Exploit the power of people and technology.
  3. Any leadership transfer must be smooth, quick and universally accepted.

Poll Wars II: Return of the Bias

TVNZ released their first poll since the election, giving National a four point lead over Labour. This reverses results from the NBR and TV3 polls released over the past two weeks.



TV3 (03/11)

NBR (18/11)

TVNZ (20/11)
















NZ First




















United Future





This mirrors a similar situation, just days before the September 17 election. The final weeks of the campaign left many people in a void of uncertainty about who would win the election, and criticism was directed towards these organizations in releasing results quickly but with low accuracy to gain the audience. The new situation however complicates this issue, as the polling period is not and has not been under any pressure to publish the results. Therefore, the results indicate two wholly incompatible conclusions:

  1. The survey data shows a volatile support level between the two major parties, seemingly a continuation of the status quo during the election.
  2. Media outlets have acquired systematic bias, resulting in a disproportionate showing for one party over another, in spite of a volatile situation.

I would have been demonstrably wrong to have argued anything else but the first conclusion before the election. But it seems very obvious that if there is bias, and the scuttlebutt seems to suggest that this situation has been occurring for some time, therefore, maybe the media outlets should consider overhauling their relationships with Market Research Companies who use biased methodologies, before the legitimacy of polls may be lost by the NZ public. Of course one could argue that the comparison between the TV3 poll and the TVNZ one is over a fortnight, in which a considerable amount of news came out only in the last week, would be unfair. I think it is unfair to suggest such a large voter swing in the month immediately after an election, especially when the NBR poll has the same number for Labour’s support, but a six point difference with the National party’s support.

The polls suggest the Greens picking up Labour support, and National picking up NZ Firsts. Bad news then for Labour, good news for National. The appearance of John Key on TVNZs “most preferred PM” will be moot if the trend of National’s lead continues. See a previous post for reasoning why.

SkyTV buys Prime

SkyTV has begun the buyout of Prime TV for 30 million NZD. Still they have to get approval from the securities commission. According to Sky, they have been looking for an existing FTA channel to add to their ‘stable’

Hey now, you're a sportstar!

It is funny how some politicians and sportstars share similarities, I started this conversation in an online forum and after some good contributions (Hat tips to Cynic, Tormenta, and NGD) I have unveiled them for us all to sit and ponder. Would appreciate any others you may have.

David Lange: Buck Shelford

Why: Never lost an election (game) as leader. Ungraceful end to their leadership, hit below the belt by the French.

Helen Clark: Reuben Thorne

Why: Unimpressive in most respects, but gets the job done.

Keith Holyoake: Colin Meads

Why: Just kept going and going.

Robert Muldoon: Shane Warne

Why: Brash, confident, loud, brilliant and arrogant.

Rob Donald: Florence Griffith-Joiner

Why: Heart problems.

Winston Peters: Carlos Spencer

Why: Completely Unpredictable.

(Tuariki) John Delamere/ (Taito) Phillip Field: (Prince) Naseem Hamed

Why: All three have given themselves honorary titles.

Georgina Beyer: Ma'a Nonu

Why: They both wear eye liner.

Nandor Tanzcos: Ben Johnson

Why: The similarities are obvious.

Rodney Hide: Lance Cairns

Why: Misses most of the time, but when he hits it…gone!

Michael Cullen: Lance Armstrong

Why: Both short in vital characteristics in being a man.

Steve Maharey: Anna Kournikova

Why: Looks great, but sucks everywhere else.

Ruth Richardson: Mike Tyson

Why: Vicious, nasty, goes for the weak spots.

Jenny Shipley: Chinese Women’s Swim Team

Why: More abuses under misrepresentation than the case for war with Iraq.

A subject close to my liver

I love alcahol. It is one of my many vices. and chatting with others, I do not seem as upset about the proposal to increase the price of booze tax as they are. Whenever I down a pint I know that excessive consumption is dangerous in the short and long term, so I'm happy to have the costs of my burden carried by myself and others who share my love for the beverage. I'm more upset that the LLA has ruled the cut price promotions in bars (in Dunedin so far) illegal. It means i may not be able to down a cheap pint on the way home at the b4 for much longer.

Underage Booze

Hamilton police are finding local stores and a restaurant continue to flout the liquor licensing laws. Over half of those sites that were caught in a similar bust in September have been caught again

Buzzword: Address in reply

I chose to look at a breakdown of the Don Brash (National, List) and Helen Clark’s (Labour, List) ‘address in reply’ speeches. Tony Milne has already done some interesting posts on both of the speeches. And at the risk of stealing his work, for which I apologize I decided to take analyse main keywords and phrases that marked their speeches.

The Method

This is based upon using the posted transcripts on their respective websites (the Hansard advances for yesterday are not available yet, but I will try again later) and inputting into the Write Words Phrase Frequency Counter, and ignoring all phrases stated two times or less.

The Analysis

Donald Brash

‘New Zealanders’


‘living standards’


‘Helen Clark’


‘failed to’


‘the gap’


‘in Australia


‘student loan bribe’


‘the Labour New Zealand first government’


‘the last six years’


‘better than’


‘Michael Cullen’


‘the cost’


‘no sign’


‘Winston Peters’


‘surplus of million tonnes of carbon’


Helen Clark

New Zealand


‘New Zealanders’


‘will be’


‘our country’


‘proud of’


‘young people’


New Zealand way’*



Brash’s speech tried to repeat a series of attacks that were already aired in the election campaign: tax, Australia, bribes, failure, making specific references to PM Clark, Michael Cullen (Labour, List) and Winston Peters (New Zealand First).

Clark's speech avoided repetition, varied the material about the successes and goals, but kept coming back to national unity, pride, youth and the ’New Zealand way’ A curious result was that both speakers said ‘New Zealanders’ 12 times.

*see Tony Milne’s post on the speech from the throne and this phrase.

Campaign 2005 Annecdotes

I'm looking to compile a series of annecdotes of the 2005 election campaign. If you have a story that you think is funny, or interesting about your experiences in the campaign, please email them to geoff.hayward@gmail.com. Please indicate whose campaign you were with and where you were. I will post the stories once I recieve enough to make a decent sized piece.

The Living Room Candidate

The Living Room Candidate is a website featuring the TV spots of all US presidential races, since the first use in the 1952 election. It is a fascinating look at the way that media and campaigning has changed over time. I like the differences between JFK's 1960 and Clintons 1992 campaigns.


Just Left and I See Red have posted on the Colin James’ Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture on ‘After the Treaty: a new fiction’. After reading the transcript, I immediately remembered a Law paper presented by David Williams last year. Both allude to the genesis of a new myth that unites rather than divides. A sentiment shared in regards of the relationship transcending “both Crown and tribe” by Shane Jones (Labour, List) in his maiden speech to the House yesterday

In a similar vein, I attended a presentation by Prof Catherine Bell (Univeristy of Alberta, Canada) entitled ‘Protection and Repatriation of First Nations Cultural Heritage: The Need for Canadian Law Reform’ yesterday (the website on the research and background is available here. The Canadian example, while having numerous differences in the legal framework shows a possible model for generating a multi-partner arrangement for the purpose of building a base of accepted knowledge, in both the scientific community and He Kaupapa Matauranga.

The Dom goes Anti American

Today's editorial in the Dominion Post criticises New US Ambassador Bill McCormack for his lack of ability and in the process, gets on the American Hypocrisy Bandwagon

Winston's Week

Because there has been so little opportunity for the government to make mistakes for the opposition to pounce upon, there are only two avenues left to show the current government’s weakness

  1. The incoming reports for inquiries from the previous term.
  2. The Right Honorable Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List)

The National party has all too close a history that has meant having to deal with Mr Peters. And the Labour party has not made the situation easier by being selective on the matters that Peters will be covering this week in APEC. But then, Mr Peter’s consistent attempt to distance himself from the government, despite an adequate weakening of the constitutional convention of collective responsibility, makes him a prime target. One thing is for certain, National has had to get itself of playing defense, thanks to Brian Connell (of many posts by Tony Milne) and Jerry Brownlee.

I should point out that the fact that bloggers are complaining about Peters changing his mind on Asian Immigration, let alone be surprised by Peters doing so only validates the idea that no politician can change his mind if new information arrives. People are fallible, more so for politicians despite the expectations the media project. The idea that if you ever change your opinion at any time of your life, you are a waffler or a flip-flopper is demonstrable. But then, Peters doesn’t flip flop like Don Brash, as the recent election campaign exploited.

So every political junkie is keen on watching APEC not because of the need to work on getting agreements on trade reform with China and the US (in convincing the EU to relax farming tariffs) but because we are wondering if there will be a car wreck delivered by Peter, and how the Government will respond. Drama insues.

Keith Ng's Interview with Pita Sharples

It is a nice feeling to have when someone speaks in the public forum and says exactly what you have been saying. It's very validating. Keith Ng's latest post on Public Address features an interview with Dr Pita Sharples (Maori, Tamaki Makaurau) on the kaupapa regarding the call for a review of tikanga maori within state institutions. I also liked the point Keith made about the Maori party's press team. They missed a beat last Monday, waiting too long to get the release out, forcing the story onto the next day's news.

Unclaimed IRD money

Well, the IRD has just updated their list of people who have unclaimed money held by the IRD. Sadly, no money for me this year.

Into the briny blue

By Bye F-69! – A young child watching the sinking.

Yesterday’s sinking of the F69 was an awesome sight. The weather was warm but the wind made the ship drift and that delayed the event, with children all around getting restless.

Then a flare…and then another. Everyone turns to the ocean, parents trying to convince their tired children to watch the boat, one last time. The fog horns blast and finally some artillery sounds before the fireworks begin. Ooh…ahhh sounds the crowd. There was a cool peacefulness in watching the sinking, enjoying a beer, taking photos and getting warm in the sun. Ironic that a warship would generate that feeling.

A Shockwave Flash montage I made of the sinking is avaliable. Reuters also has a video of the event and Flikr has posted pictures (better ones than mine) here.

Is it 'state the obvious' day?

Armistice and Veterans

Picture of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Armistice Day 2005. Photo by nine_nz

Yesterday, I visited the tomb of the Unknown warrior to pay my respects to the war dead. Despite a windy day, there was a lot of pomp, many dignitaries, but few observers. As I mentioned in my previous post, Armistice Day is not well celebrated in NZ, but it is overseas (This morning, C-SPAN was showing the Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC) ANZAC Day is a public holiday, yet Armistice Day is not. My belief was that New Zealanders have taken so much to the Gallipoli campaign that the hype has overshadowed the total cost of that war. So, I conducted a small (and probably biased) survey of people on the streets of Wellington yesterday, asking the following question:

In the First World War, where did the majority of New Zealand’s war dead die, Gallipoli or the Western Front*?

The Results were:

Gallipoli 37%

Western Front 45%

Don’t Know 17%

I am surprised by the numbers, but at least the number of people who said the correct answer was greater than those who said Gallipoli.
While I was at the memorial a pair of tourists asked why if i was visting the tomb because i had an interst in military history. I said "No, i have an interest in politics, and events like these invariably are political." Well, maybe not here, but certainly in the United States. Finally, I was interested to read that the US Government is unsure how many living veteran's of WWI there are in the US.

*For the sake of argument I state France, Belgium and Holland as the ‘Western Front’.

Tough times for the EU

Stability was restored today with the finalisation of a new German government. The new government has still to deal with the trade reform obstacles at the EU, formalising its position on selling arms to China, and finding 35 billion euros to curtail the budget deficit. So, not a great start to business, but at least there’s a driver at the wheel of a ‘canyonero coalition’.

France has got their own issues: riots, WTO and Welsh rugby players. There is still dissent amongst the French after the EU constitutional referendum, with both their government and the EU according to Josep Borrell. The slow market reforms have finally reached a point where a part of the public is so upset and so desperate to be heard; they have no choice but to rise up. The closest example we had in New Zealand to that would have been the collective protests in the late 1980s and 1990s. I don’t think they burned cars though, just effigies.

UPDATE: Not PC has placed an interesting post on the situation in Europe, categorising the situation as a failure of 'social market economy' but I ask, is it a failure? Maybe the market just hasn't adjusted yet. I feel that Not PC has gone off in a tangent that appeases only himself, the right and those who wish to have a go at Europeans. My definition of failure is one where the system is completely irreparable. The fact that social accountability prevents the tyranny of the market does not mean it fails every time the people protest that it’s going in the wrong direction. Wait a while, and you’ll see the paradigm shift. Just where to is another matter.


If you were thinking of going to watch the former HMNZS Wellington being scuttled, you would have to be alittle more patient. Poor weather has pushed the sinking out till tommorow. I'm off to take photos of the event, hopefully from the reserve over Princess Bay. should try to get some photos posted soon afterwards.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

It is Armistice Day today, not as well celebrated in NZ but is more so overseas. Dedicated to those who died in the first of the two world wars, NZ made an enormous contribution and suffered a heavy loss. Looking at the First World War deaths:

Gallipoli 2721

Western Front 13250

Sinai 500

(From 'WARS – FIRST WORLD WAR, 1914–18', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966)

These numbers do not include those who died on ships, in the air core, or those who died within five years of discharge. Combined with 60,000 wounded, over 120,000 New Zealanders suffered the largest proportion of casualties of the allies. New Zealand has since then had a long history of military service overseas, which continues today.

For the entire day, there will be a silent vigil of defense personal guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Earlier this week, I was part of a debate on why soldiers fight for freedom while our own liberties were eroded in the name of security, especially when we place such honor on our fallen in previous generations who fought to protect that freedom. First of all, they did not fight for freedom; they fought to protect us, for our security: King and country. Their job is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Take this for example, the oath that New Zealanders take before becoming enlisted soldiers;

"I, [Name], solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to our Sovereign Lady the Queen, Her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully serve in the New Zealand Naval Forces/the New Zealand Army/the Royal New Zealand Air Force [Delete the Services that are not appropriate], and that I will loyally observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors, and of the officers set over me, until I shall be lawfully discharged. So help me God.

Nothing there about freedom or liberty. Fighting for freedom is like fighting for God or any other abstract, how do you know you have done enough, or done so in a matter that ‘pleases’ them/it? I do not wish to appear in any way ungrateful for the sacrifices that fellow New Zealanders have made. My own family has a history of military service, and my family has been affected by the destructive nature of war, only made less painful in victory. But to ask our armed forces to be the protectors of freedom is passing the buck. They fought (and died) for us to protect our own liberty. It is curious that the same people who complain to me about atrocities and the erosion of civil rights are usually those who love to hear the sound of their own voice, and sit at home wondering if there will be a sudden reversal of the situation. The surest way to protect our democracy is to be a part of it.

So, I will be going to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and after that will be off to make a use of myself by being a part of democracy. I hope you all will too.


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