Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

Clayton Cosgrove (Labour, Waimakariri) launches Census 2006

The transcript of his speech is availiable here. It's a good speech. I wish I knew who wrote it.

I've decided to keep out of the Wayne Mapp (National, North Shore) reaction to the census forms, Seeing as my opinion has pretty much been covered already (and here and here and here)

But I will say here, in an attempt to actually debate the issue, I feel that unless you proactively make both our languages part of the national discourse and experience, then making Maori a national language is nothing more that a tokenist measure. Language does not empower people by lauding it's importnace, it's power is in it's very use. No reira, ka timata tatou te korero, and let's begin fostering it's use, by equalising it's utilisation in our national literature.

From the Dominion Post:

ACT spent just under a million dollars on its campaign - about twice as much as parties of a similar size but well down on its 2002 budget - spending figures issued by the Electoral Commission show.

In the 2002 campaign, ACT spent $1.6 million - much more than other parties - but this dropped to $966,614 last year.

However, National increased its spending from $1 million in 2002 to more than $2.1 million.

The sums do not include taxpayer funds for television and radio advertisements. At the last election, National received $900,000 and ACT $200,000.

No doubt that the lack of funds surely lost ACT at least one seat. Free media coverage did ACT no favors, although it helped Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) in his electorate campaign. A massive swing in money highlighted the prevailing power of money in Right wing campaining, but it also showed it wasn't everything

This should be a signal to the ACT party that it's appearing too much as a clone of National and that so long as Brash stays as it's leader, will continue to suck the life out of the ACT party. The only other alternative is to rebrand itself, as a right wing party, but wholly disimilar to National.

Tony Milne made an excellent post a while back on ACT as a true liberal party, maybe now is the time to rennovate, especially if Brash stays: capturing a more youthful, prosperous group of voters who don't consider themselves socially conservative, can undercut National and create a new niche, one that will disappear if Brash is replaced by a far younger leader. I do remember Rodney has made a few appearances on such shows as Eating Media Lunch and Pulp Sport, now maybe it's time to make the policies match the packaging.

It should also be a signal to National that even with all that money (so much they forgot to consider the GST), it still couldn't get the plurality. It is probably the fact that by going more to the right as Don Brash (National, List) had arguably done, the centre fell away, especially in the final weeks of the campaign. an MMP system cannot tolerate a party that courts the flank and the centre. And that a viable party on your extreme helps the larger partner to capture the centre.

Humour - The Onion on CIA magic markers

Michael Richardson attempts to highlight the China-Iran relationship in the nuclear issue and the diplomatic struggle emerging between two power blocs. But unfortunately it's far more complicated than that. Another asian nation is having troubles balancing their economic and diplomatic priorities.

Japan's Inpex Corp, in which the Japanese government has a 36% stake, won 75% of development rights to the Azadegan field, one of the largest in Iran. And for a country that has a heavy reliance on overseas oil (less than 10% of oil consumption is from domestic sources), the economic consequences of a diplomatic line pushing them closer to the US and EU is considerable.

The article does make a fair point, as Japan being the only nation to be the target of a nuclear attack, they have a strong commitment to non proliferation. So the question is, what is the price of principle? (or peace, depending on your viewpoint)

with so many stakeholders, and a resource so desperately wanted, the possiblity of comprimise seems even more distant.

Has Peters mixed up his Sinatra?

The Herald reports on certain MPs selections for the 'best song ever written' including Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List) with his choice My Way being based upon according to the article;

"'I did it My Way' is about life's not easy, it's not a soft landing most times ... but you've got to get yourself back up and get back in the race."

Now, i'm no expert on Sinatra tunes, but the line '...get yourself back up and get back in the race', bears a striking similarity to That's Life, not My Way:

[Each time I find myself, flat on my face, I pick myself] up and get back in the race.

And looking further, the lyrics I feel are more appropriate;

That's life, that's what all the people say.

You're riding high in April,

Shot down in May

But I know I'm gonna change that tune,

When I'm back on top, back on top in June.

I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem

Some people get their kicks,

Stompin' on a dream

But I don't let it, let it get me down,

'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,

A poet, a pawn and a king.

I've been up and down and over and out

And I know one thing:

Each time I find myself, flat on my face,

I pick myself up and get back in the race.

That's life

I tell ya, I can't deny it,

I thought of quitting baby,

But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.

And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,

I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly.

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,

A poet, a pawn and a king.

I've been up and down and over and out

And I know one thing:

Each time I find myself laying flat on my face,

I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That's life

That's life and I can't deny it

Many times I thought of cutting out

But my heart won't buy it

But if there's nothing shakin' come this here july

I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die

My, My

Food for Africa, food for children

I think it is a noble gesture to send food to Africa. Christine Drummond has offered to send a modified recipe of her dog food product to Kenya to help starving people there.
Afer actually watching her speak on TVNZ last night I have to confess she sounds like a loon: Anyone who spends at least any time studying how food aid is deployed around the world knows that food isn't always just a generic bag of grain, but customising food to a region to balance factors like nutritional benefits, supporting existing food types and local diet, and most importantly making it is cheap to source as possible. While the first 42 tons will be provided for free, courtesy of Drummond, it's questionable whether the material would be useful in supporting aid agencies like the WFP

This comment I thought was interesting though;

Save the Children says the association with dog food is clearly unfortunate and it is important that orphans in Kenya are treated with the same respect as children in New Zealand.

If we treat feeding our children with as much respect as the British, then we don't have a very powerful moral stance.

D-Day for Brash and National

Have you ever visited Orewa? It's a strange mix of beach goers and old age pensioners. The one thing that it has going for it is that the Northern Motorway almost bypasses it. It's local MP has a PhD in Agriculture, used to host a TV programme called collegiate Challenge, and has a grin that can crack walnuts. Needless to say, it's a hell-of-a-place. I grew up in a valley about 15 minutes to the west of Orewa.

Tomorrow Brash delivers his third speech to the rotary Club of Orewa, a tradition started by Rob Muldoon who used to live over the hill at Hatfields Beach. Brash's first speech launching the "one law for all" campaign catapulted National ahead of Labour in the polls - something that seemed impossible after the Nat's humiliating defeat in 2002. The second on welfare dependence was (comparably) average.

This year's effort is do-or-die for Dr Brash. He has led National to an agonizingly close victory in the 2005 election, but, conversely, many commentators blamed Brash's bumbling and inexperience for not taking down an ailing Labour government, showing through with his shocking handling of the Exclusive Brethren fiasco and the Katherine Rich firing.

Post election, Brash and National haven't faired much better. Sure, today's poll has the Nat's 0.5% ahead of the government, but with an economic slow down forecasted, and Peters, Benson-Pope etc causing headaches for the Government it is a wonder why National isn't steaming ahead instead of within the margin of error. For Brash, rumours of a leadership challenge from Key, English, Power and Rich seem to hog the headlines.

Party insiders have indicated that tomorrow's night speech will be "wide-ranging". Brash had better make it as good if not better than Orewa 1, or else he'll be the focus of the media the next day, not his speech.

Note to Brash before Orewa III

Dear Don Brash,

If you go about forecasting economic gloom tomorrow night, using only the economic indicators that justify your arguement, please remember that there are two sides to the coin. As this debate shows, it's easy to miss expectations, because the basis for your assumptions are narrow:

...Regardless, the very shortcomings of our forecasts have some important policy implications themselves, because policy makers who rely on imperfect economic forecasts will sometimes make mistakes. In fact, when economic forecasts fail to identify turns in the business cycle in a timely way, policy may conceivably make the business cycle worse, as Milton Friedman argued with his "fool in the shower" analogy. The fact that (as you pointed out above) the business cycle has become less volatile in recent years is reassuring on this score, however.

For better or worse, we don't have any choice but to try to forecast lots of economic and financial variables. Most economic transactions have implications that will stretch into the future, so in order to assess the merit of any particular economic decision, individuals in both the public and private sectors must necessarily make some sort of guesses about what that future will look like...

PS: On second thought, forget accuracy and thoroughness, just be believable. Do that, and people might be convinced of your abilities, if not your experience.

PPS: On third thought, be entertaining, there's nothing very sexy about the economy, and Coro's on around then, so you may not get that many turning up.

Combat jet lost at sea

An advantage of not having a combat wing within the RNZAF, is that you can't lose jet planes in the ocean during military exersizes

I was impressed with the piece by Jessica Arons and Shira Saperstein on advocating not for more restrictions on abortion, but promoting measures that reduce the need for people to have to take that choice. A few phrases rang true:

Unintended pregnancy could be reduced significantly if we showed true commitment to: 1) comprehensive sexuality education that includes medically accurate information about abstinence and contraception; 2) insurance coverage of and public funding for family planning services; 3) greater access to emergency contraception (which prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion); and 4) programs that curb domestic violence and sexual abuse.

...Once a woman finds herself with an unexpected pregnancy, a second positive way to reduce abortion is to ensure that she has the means to have and raise a child in health and safety should she wish to do so.

Regrettably, few of these policy goals are mentioned in today’s rhetoric about reducing abortion.

I feel that another idea would be to promote family based initiatives to create close support systems with relatives, helping to take the strain off some mothers who have children and making a tangible benefit to children, even those who have only one parental member.

Dealing with abortion by outlawing it's use will never solve the problem, and will in fact drag it into the darkness..Policies that show abortion as a final resort, and make every effort to prevent this choice from being taken are far more effective, not only in reducing the abortion rate, but also improves the quality of life for many children, who live on the precipice of despair.

Poll watch

Both the Roy Morgan and the SST (Hat Tip Tony) have released polls in the last 24 hours, giving National the lead over Labour. I find Chris Trotters comments on the sudden rise in Greens support being linked to Rod Donald a little hollow, but I certainly agree that the support is in line with support bleeding from Labour.

Still the Molesworth and Featherston in their midweek update see the trend toward National (although they still had doubts about the SST being biased...maybe not so)

encouraging for National, and a positive sign for Don Brash (National, List) who the media suggests will put to rest all suggestion of him not jumping (before being pushed?) out of the party leadership.

OT: Weather forecasters

I'm not that concerned with the revelation that TVNZ has had to pay out former employees to the tune of $3.7 million NZD, so long as the restructuring provides better weather forecasters.

Since getting rid of Jim Hickey, it hasn't been the same, and TV3 wins in the weather stakes, not because the of the graphics (which aren't great at all), nor the accuracy of the weather (which it isn't)...it's popular because Toni Marsh is slightly better to look at when the weather is on, then anything TVNZ has mustered. At least put on someone charming or funny if you aren't going to provide "eye candy".

In slightly related news, Mayor Michael Laws is upset he wants MetService to shift the sensors into the city, so as to provide more accurate temperature reports in Wanganui. Sometimes I wonder what passes for news.

UPDATE: Richard Griffin (not the portly actor, but Government Relations Manager at TVNZ) says it may take up to four years for any noticeable changes to appear...so I might be waiting a while for Ollie to make it to TVNZ.

Amnesty International tries a novel tactic, highlighting the arms trade


UK Movie theatres have been showing ads by Amnesty International, featuring a mock HSN piece, selling Kalishnikov rifles "...to highlight the ease with which weapons can be bought and sold due to lax controls on the international arms trade."

Go watch the ad, it's pretty funny. Love the pink shirt on the male presenter.

Reading List

Humour: Photoshopped Kiwi Film 02

For those not lucky to get away from Wellington during the holidays, you'll know how desolate the city was during the long break. I personally remember taking the train up north just before new years, I was at the Wellingotn tain station at 8am in the morning...not one suited individual to be found jumping on or off any of the trains. I hope everyone who got out had a good break over the holidays, bring on "2-Oh-6".

So to remind us of the lack of political fodder over the holidays, We present the horror film; The Quiet News Cycle

From the Beehive:

Finance Minister Michael Cullen reiterated today that the government is very focused on making meaningful changes to the business tax regime.

"This a complex task, but one that could pay real dividends for the economy," said Dr Cullen.

"For opposition finance spokesman John Key to suggest otherwise shows how ignorant he is of the realities of policy making. It's surprising for one who trumpets his business credentials so much to suggest there is a simple, quick fix available," said Dr Cullen. "Clearly he has a lot to learn.

"This government is concentrating on managing the country through any dip in economic activity.

"John Key's only solution seems to be to simply cut taxes which will only put further pressure on interest rates and the dollar thereby creating more pain for exporters and workers," Dr Cullen concluded.

The review of business tax is a key part of the post-election confidence and supply agreements with United Future and New Zealand First. It aims to provide better incentives for productivity gains and for businesses to improve their competitiveness with Australia.

Proposals for consultation will be released by mid-June at the latest.

So there seems to be no other reason why this release was made, other than to regain (or minimise) lost business confidence, especially after a number of media reports businesses having to cut back, highlighting the tighter economic conditions. No one will deny that he's trying every trick in the book to keep an even keel.

If you want to make sure something gets done, but you can't get it done yourself, report it to the media as though it's already done.

Simon Power (National, Rangitikei) has put the acid on Damien O'Connor (Labour, West Coast-Tasman) to get a Select Committee inquiry into the corrections department, and pursuing the head of the LOC Select Committee, Martin Gallagher (Labour, Hamilton West) to urgently start an inquiry. There has been no official response from O'Connor to this yet. One wonders if he would want to.

It's a moot point whether the Government would have been able to act sooner in avoiding this situation, but if the inquiry shows up anything bad, the success for Power and National will be greater.

Mandatory child reporting, radical you bet!

It's incredibly weak to make an arguement about child rearing when you don't have any children, but this is a suggestion that has some merit;

[C]hildren assessed at milestones in their life as part of an intervention system aimed at preventing children from falling through the cracks...

...The assessment would cover areas such as whether a child had been subject to abuse, was malnourished or falling behind in education...

...Government departments would then have responsibility to intervene in the child's life and put programmes in place...

I think it's worthwhile to consider this policy. It removes the age old defence of ignorance and defiance when parents think they are better parents then they are. I do know from presonal experience that one of my parents could have been a lot better as a parent to me and my siblings (a copper pipe is not for smacking, irrespective of the offence)

And when we need more novel solutions to help prevent an increasing rate of reported instances of child abuse, to ignore this on this basis of what (I can be assured) some will call "pinko-commie, PC social engineering" is as grave an act of veiled negligence, no matter if have children or

PS: A shout out to a good friend who helps organise a Child Abuse NGO in Malaysia:

Malaysian Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Regarding Ratana

On the bus today, I overheard a conversation, that I thought summed up the celebrations

"Why can't we agree that the Maori party is a party based on race, and the National party is a party based on racism"

I haven't heard a more eloquent comment.

Otherwise, I thought the comments by Georgina Te Heuheu (National, List) in defending her leaders comments, especially after it was reported that she "...held her head in her hands" were pretty weak, and highlights that that while the National party supports him, they know the NZ public isnt warming up yet (in spite of whatever support may have been accumlated in the last election). It may have been a politcal comment, not a social (or racist) comment, but the people don't see a difference, and repeating it isn't going to going to change people's minds. Top marks for persistance though.

Ban to be lifted on non-Maori media at Te Tii on Waitangi weekend

Three years ago, Te Tii Marae elders restricted non-Maori media representatives from reporting on the event, in response to what they felt was 'adverse reporting' by these organisations in the past.

This year the ban will be lifted, no doubt a reflection of the good oil provided by a emerging Maori political movement, that has not been seen as 'activist' or inflammatory by mainstream media. I believe that the softening has come about becuase of the Maori party's mana with iwi, and the media not lambasting their efforts since the resumption of Parliament.

The Maori party would be clever to release a statement to the effect of highlighting this conciliatory gesture, and express the need for healing wounds...and then reminding the need for opening the debate.

It's certainly going to be interesting if there will be credible protests (or a level on par with previous years), and if the Maori party will support the protests. I think they will leave their opinions on the Marae atea, I'm very optimistic about this year's event.

PS: It's a pity that PM Clark will not be attending to participate. A missed opportunity I think.

Don Brash (National, List) has committed to staying on to the next election, meaning he could be 68 when the next election occurs, which in itself causes difficulties, which I have already remarked upon.

Then days later Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert) makes a similar commitment. To me, this seems more like a reactionary gesture, getting back control of the media cycle after the coverage on National's election debrief (there certainly wasn't a huge underswell of rumours being generated into Clark's future...well certainly not outside of the blogsphere)

Then Chris Carins announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday. We all knew that retirement was inevitable (for all three people), but after hearing Cairns talk about his passion to play for NZ again just before the Chappell-Haddle series late last year (and the massive effort he made in getting back in shape to play) and you start to see a pattern...talk is cheap, let's see how things pan out, before commiting too far ahead.

The Press elaborates on the situation in todays editorial.

NSW trys to promote national identity with anthem singing. What's NZ doing?

Nothing new...but it should.

I want to state first of all, that I am not promoting the compulsary recitation of the anthem in classrooms. Well, to be more specific, I'm certainly not promoting it's use on its own. At the risk of digressing, when I was at Intermediate School, at every school assembly, they would start by raising the flag while reciting some sort of pledge (I wish I could remember the wording, so I could figure out it's origin. In fact if anyone knows that pledge or can remember doing the same thing in their youth, I would apprecite comments) and then singing the national anthem.

The NSW is preparing to make both government and non-government schools make mandatory recitation of the Australian national anthem (in addition to other measures) and while the measures are designed for the sake of avoiding racial conflaguation, I think it may have the added benefit of promoting debate on national identity and concurently, install a base of knowledge of the abstract of national identity and constitutionalism.

I still consider mandatory recitation of the national anthem does not in itself instill national unity or knowledge of our constitutional development. Furthermore, the NSW govenment would be silly to think that the measures in themsleves will prevent another Cronulla (just as silly as it is that a race riot like Cronulla or Paris will not occur in NZ). Singing an anthem, or pledging allegience to a symbol of a nation misses the point of the values that we live with, and the principles our goverment runs upon every day. Legislatively, we could make our children take a pledge to a drawing pin, and some would feel no increased sense of pride because of it. Let us therefore commit ourselves to the system, not the symbols.

I want to extend this piece to a consideration of what New Zealand can do, on instilling national pride and invigorating civic debate. Had I made a greater effort to research this, it could have been fodder for policy hounds to consider over the anniversary weekend. I want to put aside the arguements in support of promoting tolerance amongst an increasingly diverse population such as ours (it is estimated by 2050, approximately 40% of NZ will be non European), before a race riot occurs in NZ, but perhaps another could extend this.

Should the debate be dedicated to our schools? I wish it wasn't the only place ( I wish it was something far more substantial; a topic debated in every forum more often, like it was something so importatn it could shift onto the womans mags, a level where men would debate it in between arguements over how successful the NZ teams will be in the Super 14) but it seems to be at the moment the most efficient means to instill a prolonged national debate. The recent constitutional Select Committee recommended a commitment to increase opportunities for debate. Thus, an opportunity to act upon the work of the previous government to implement these recommendations has emerged, not just on providing more avenues for constitutional debate, but establish forums for debate on national identity. Its a great moment to consider as a nation what values we consider are intergral to being a New Zealander. These values should lie within the hearts of all, irrespective of the individual's background.

To those conservatives who feel that any policy along these lines hearlds a tacit move to republicanism without mandate (or worse), a social decline into anarchy, I ask, do you have a firm picture of what are "New Zealand's vlaues" and if you do, are they shared by a plurality of New Zealander's, irrespective of their culure, sex, religion, gender, age, income and educational background? There's no point in following something if our reasons for following are absent or blinkered to only a few.

To those who acknowledge the need for evolving our national identity and composition, I ask, what values do we wish to hold onto, that are shared by our diverse population? There's no point taking a journey without not knowing where we are coming from...you can find yourself going in circles.

So I would like suggestions on what you think is a New Zealand 'value'? Here are some of the ones i quickly thought of, all of which are unlikely to cause offence;

  • Pluralism
  • Tolerance
  • Unity/Community
  • Egalitarinism
  • Responsibility
  • Pragmatism
  • Liberty

  • OT: West Wing season 7 will be the last

    It's no secret that I rate the West Wing as one of my favourite shows to watch. It, with South Park and Fmaily Guy making up the only three shows i regularly watch and find entertaining (obviously for different reasons), although Empire is worth a laugh (I'm impressed with the drinking rules DPF has elaborated upon.

    So I do feel upset at the thought that season 7 will be the last. I am happy that the series will have a sense of finality, with the show ending around the end of Bartlet's presidency. But like many good stories, there will always be that yearning for "what happened next?" that people have after hearing the final line.

    WARNING - For those who are wathers of the show but have not been up to date with the states IGNORE THIS PARAGRAPH...The episode "Internal displacement" has been an episode that has captured the old dialouge style that made the first few seasons so enjoyable, although Josh's role is strangely different (but considering that it's written by Bradley Whitford aka Josh, I guess that's expected...creative license?)

    Murdoch sticks with UK Labour

    I was suprised to see that Rupert Murdoch was unable to convince the Conservative party leadership to make a tax cutting policy in exchange for switching his support from Labour.

    This could be taken in two ways;

    1) David Cameron doesn't see tax cuts as a viable policy and by sticking to his guns, may endere him to some voters, who will gravitate toward a leader who will not be bullied by any notary.

    2) Losing the support of Murdoch equals a lost strategic opportunity, one that may come back to haunt Cameron, especially when Murdoch is later interviewed, highlighting his fears of becoming a "...cheap imitation of Labour"

    Still, Cameron has plenty of time to convince Murdoch otherwise, and there may be not need to make such an aggresive policy right now, so early before the next election.

    First post for 2006, a somber lesson in the illusion of assumption

    Just got back after my cross country trip over the holidays, and after leaving Rotorua one day later I find out that there have been two attacks in as many days within my own neighborhood. In one, a man was shot and killed on a street where my aunt and a brother and law used to live, where my sister has a house just around the corner. I used to cycle around that neighborhood, walk the dog, deliver circulars and papers. I went to the high school just around the bend.

    No matter where one goes in the world, and the new people they meet, the fact that a shocking event like this brings your thoughts back to your origins must be a powerful thing.

    Thinking back, the suburb has a reputation for crime, but not as bad as some places in this country. And I took little notice of my Aunt who warned me to be careful, to the point of recommending that I do not walk alone in the dangerous city streets ( a little overcautious perhaps?). I think I have always been aware of the reputation, but like anyone who has lived in a situation like mine, survival means you deal with the risks, take appropriate steps to avoid trouble, and you certainly don’t let it rule your life. If that is mistaken as a carefree attitude to crime, then so it is.
    I can understand that the woman who had to watch the shot man die upon her doorstep is filled with an enormous sense of fear and helplessness. People in spite of whatever they may think they know about the place in which they live rarely have to deal with people getting shot right outside their house. And how more helpless is the victim, who at the moment is reported to have no relationship with the suspects. Was he fearful of his life ending on that day, I think not. No, no preparedness can cover the extraordinary eventualities that ordinary individuals are forced to confront.
    So this helplessness spreads: how viable are the suggestions as to the cause and motives of these attacks, when there is no clear motive. If little more insight arrives, how can the public identify the roots of these attacks, so crucial in the process of crime prevention? Drugs, TV, mental instability, family instability, race or greed…society itself becomes helpless in deciding how to solve the problem.

    Nevertheless, people make assumptions about how safe they are and on the flipside, how far they can bend the rules to get a little further while staying 'safe'. Survey data released today suggests many are prepared to speed, confident that they themselves will not be caught. I have a simple opinion with speed limits: the police may punish you if you go at 101 just as much as at 121, so there is no justification for breaking the limit, just because the police will probably not catch you unless you are traveling at a higher speed. How about those who think that they are intuitive enough to locate speed camera locations or breath testing checkpoints and avoid them. The only good news is that first time offenders has decreased, but repeat offenders still place confidence in their assumptions. I fear that this year will bring a record number of road fatalities, many of which could have been avoided by choosing to ignore this idea of "safe infringment"

    So I guess the point to the first post of 2006 (if one can be elucidated) is that everyone can be mistaken, assumptions can be wrong and people can suffer as a consequence. Try and keep an open mind, and to act in good faith and prudence.


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