Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

Section 59 - The first day of oral submissions

The first set of oral submissions on the Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Bill, put forward by Sue Bradford (Greens, List) started today.

Bradford, as well as Ann Hartley (Labour, List), Lynne Pillay (Labour, Waitakere), Nicky Wagner (National, List) and Jackie Blue (National, List) were on the Committee today. I hope it was only coincidental that there were no men on the committee today, even though Russell Fairbrother (Labour, List), Christopher Finlayson (National, List), Nandor Tanczos (Greens, List) and Dr Richard Worth (National, List) are also on the JEC. Maybe Tanzcos swapped with Bradford? But the others…way to let the team down.

Anyway, the organisations that appeared were

  • Save The Children NZ
  • Families Commission
  • Parents.org Inc
  • Barnados
  • Relationship Services
  • CCS
  • IHC
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner

    All groups supported the Bill.

    There were some interesting observations during the hearings.

    Families Commission made a recommendation for a 12 to 18 month delay to the enactment of the Bill. Their reasoning was for the provision of adequate education resources to inform the public. Hartley found it disappointing that this recommendation was in the submission and made it clear she was firmly against any delay. Dr Rajen Prasad, Chief Commissioner conceded that if the Bill was enacted without delay, then they would not object, as their primary objective was the repeal of s. 59.

    Steven Gore, representing Parent.org Inc provided a unique perspective, with an at times light hearted oral submission. Gore confessed to smacking his children but has since decided not to use corporal punishment. Gore went on a different tack, pushing the lack of positive parenting role models. Comments included:

    “In parenting…we have no heroes, only villains.”

    “Raising a kid can’t be done in five minutes…smacking a child is like carving a statute out of marble with a sledgehammer, rather than using a fine chisel hammer.”

    “This is a rather minimal piece of legislation…there are more troubling things for parents.”

    CCS initially submitted in writing that they would be prepared to consider the modification of the Bill to allow incorporation of what constitutes reasonable force. After conferring with their Canadian counterparts, they found that it was impractical from the overseas experience to articulate this and so therefore reversed their position.

    A consensus was therefore reached that no one wanted to see any alteration to the Bill in regards of what is reasonable force, but Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro in their oral submission did highlight that the police could be given better guidelines on investigating child abuse cases.

    A cabinet paper, obtained via the OIA, was presented by EPOCH explaining the police’s opinion on parent's fears of criminalisation:

    "Prosecutions of one-off trivial offences are unlikely…there are significant safeguards in the justice system to minimise the risk of parents being prosecuted for trivial offences and it is not feasible or necessary to develop a specific mechanism to manage this risk."

    Wagner was concerned if people would be happy with the police having that much discretion and if people were worried about police consistency.

    Bradford was surprised to hear from Kiro that in her conversations with Police Commissioner Rob Robinson that the correspondence between National Integrity National Director Craig S. Smith and chief legal advisor Andrew Jack (1,2) did not represent the opinion of the Police.

    It will be of interest in subsequent hearings what opponents will have to say on the issue.

  • Oral submissions on s.59 start today

    I will be attending the first set of oral submissions on the Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Bill, put forward by Sue Bradford (Greens, List)

    They start at 10am and are scheduled trhough to 1pm. It is in Room 6, Ground Floor, Parliament.

    Will try to post later today on highlights from today's session.

    Today in the House

    Today's Order Paper

    Oral Questions to Ministers

    1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she believe Hon David Cunliffe was correct to have made the statements he made last week regarding Telecom's dividend policy; if so, why?

    2. GEORGINA BEYER to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: How many New Zealand families will receive targeted tax relief through the Working for Families package?

    3. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she agree with Hon Dr Michael Cullen's comments that tax cuts may be affordable "in a year or two's time, depending on forecasts of revenue."; if so, what action will she take as Prime Minister to ensure New Zealanders can benefit from tax cuts?

    4. TE URUROA FLAVELL to the Minister of Maori Affairs: I tukuna ki whea o nga kaupapa a-mahi o naianei te rua tekau ma toru miriona, iwa rau mano taara o te Putea, a, he aha i kore ai i whakapauhia ketia ki nga kaupapa a-mahi i whakaritehia i te tuatahi?
    Translation: From which existing programmes was the $23.9 million reallocated in the Budget and why was this money not expended on the programmes for which it was originally allocated?

    5. GERRY BROWNLEE to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: What stage have Crown negotiations over Tainui claims to the Waikato River reached?

    6. H V ROSS ROBERTSON to the Minister for Economic Development: What steps is the Government taking to assist exporters enter key overseas markets?

    7. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement, in relation to the proposed new tax on overseas investment, that "GPG is not registered in New Zealand, it's registered in the United Kingdom and its call for a special exemption makes no sense in terms of tax policy or fairness"; if not, why not?

    8. GORDON COPELAND to the Prime Minister: Does she consider that the State Services Commissioner, Dr Mark Prebble, was right when he stated, in relation to his investigation into the leak of a Cabinet paper to Telecom, "I consider that Telecom is not to blame for its receipt of the document."?

    9. CHRIS TREMAIN to the Minister of Commerce: Will she act upon suggestions from the business community to the Quality Regulation Taskforce, in light of the fact that the Small Business Advisory Group scored the Minister an average rating of only 5.3 out of 10 for the implementation of its recommendations to reduce regulation?

    10. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS to the Minister of Finance: Is he confident that the additional $1.5 billion being allocated to new roading projects will be justified by growth in traffic volumes, given Transit's figures showing a significant decrease in traffic on three Auckland motorways and the five percent increase in bus patronage reported by Stagecoach?

    11. JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is he satisfied with the performance of helplines funded through the Ministry of Social Development and Employment?

    12. MARYAN STREET to the Minister of Commerce: What are the key features of the quality regulation review announced yesterday and what has been the response?

    Language: The long and the short of it

    I don’t make a habit of agreeing with Gerry Brownlee (National, Ilam), but Labour is suffering from a language problem.
    This year’s budget has been a recent example. The failure on the part of Labour to make it explicit to the public that tax cuts were secondary to social service provision; the need to appeal to the community instead of the wallet, or as I once heard ‘kiwi not ki-me’. But even in more cerebral issues like the foreshore and seabed debate, the party seems to run away from the tide of debate, and right up the shore.

    Meanwhile National has had quite a run of slogans. ‘Bondi Budget’, ‘Super size my surplus’ and ‘where the bloody hell are they’ can proudly join the ‘pay the money back!’ slogan as progenies of a party who last year brought us the ‘iwi-kiwi’, ‘tax-cut’ and ‘drift-net, safety-net’. And last Friday we saw the next batch arrive. Of course the left have got their own back, but there also seems to be a dearth of original design going on the left, although the 'going going gone…gone by lunchtime’ was a notable exception.

    Slogans have their place: in the world of the seven second sound bite and the ten word answer, conciseness works. I still think that had National won the plurality in the 2005 election, people would remember the media campaign by National. In fact it did work for the Conservatives in Canada last year

    But slogans don’t win elections; if they did Kevin Roberts would be on his sixth term as PM. The language has to be in a format that can be shortened from a hundred to four words without losing the point, and poignant enough to win the hearts, minds and pockets of the New Zealand public…a difficult task. Also, as the Greens have pointed out, it might be too much to not let the truth get in the way of a good slogan.

    However it’s zero for two with Labour, and the New Zealand public could tire very quickly, should conditions change. Of course, 2/3 of Australian voters would prefer spending on services than tax cuts, destroying the anticipated support the Howard Government was expecting for their 2006 budget. One might be too hasty to ignore the pulse of the nation, now all one has to do is to speak in time with it.

    OT - You'll see this ad very soon

    Messenger, Corporate Services - Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet

    Actually, I think this was the ad Mr Ryan responded to.

    RSS, OPML...what is this sh*t?

    While trying to explain to a relative the benefits of newsreaders, I wondered how many people actually know that this stuff exists?

    So here is my quick rundown for the uninitiated.

    RSS (AKA Really simple syndication) is a service offered by some news outlets in the MSM and most blogs, to feed their stories to centralised location. Think of it as building your own newspaper, with the entire world as your newsstand.

    As usual, wikipedia has an entry on RSS (actually the practical details are for 'Web feed'

    Like the article suggests, you also need an aggregator. I use feeddemon, although I have tried the RSS add-on for mozilla thunderbird. I prefer a standalone program to the web based service, but they are available too.

    So simply put:

    RSS feeds + Aggregator = News! It's a lot easier than trolling websites.

    Local news outlets are finally getting into it, with varying levels of coverage. I have graded them on the basis of their news coverage

    Stuff has a feed, but it only seems to get a few stories, the home page headlines. Nothing fantastic, better off using their email updates. C+

    NZH has a truckload of feeds, they separate their stories by subjects, so there is some cross over (for example, a piece on 'carbon tax' could make 'politics', 'government', 'taxation' and 'environment'. Also, the subscription content is an problem, but there is a solution. A-

    Scoop has finally provided RSS feeds, and has made my life a lot easier. It seems to have sorted the grouping of stories, and everything is available. Brilliant. A+

    TVNZ was similar to stuff in it's meagre offerings, but it has started to post it's stories more often. B

    Radio NZ, is the RSS-Whore: In a single day, they will post 275+ posts on their 'news' feed. There are four cateogories, but the main feature is their podcasts. If they can break down their stories into bite size subjects, that would help. A

    Newstalk ZB, runs in a similar track to RNZ, just with slightly fewer stories. B+

    Watea News. The new kind on the block, bunches stories into posts, like it was a script from a news bulletin, but the material is pretty good. B

    There are other local news services, listener, investigate and the NZ Govt all having their own RSS feeds. Likewise overseas news services are available. I haven't forgotten the blogs. The best thing with a standalone reader is that the copy of the blog post is stored, so even if the poster takes down a controversial post, you still have a copy for later. sometimes that's as good as an archived copy via google. Plus once again, wouldn't it be easier for the posts to come to you, rather than you having to go to 10,15,20 blog sites each day...or the same blog site again and again each day, waiting for their next furiously written rant.

    Moving onto OPMLs, think of these as a bookmark of all the RSS feeds you have currently subscribed to. Useful for backing up or for giving to others, like my one, which I am providing here. You'll find the feeds for the sources mentioned above there. (NOTE: Right click and select 'save target as'). You have to import the OPML into your reader of course, and most programs show you how.

    Why use RSS? well, if you are like me and you can't stand just the news from one newspaper, or waiting till the top of the hour for the radio (or even 6pm for the TV news), you have the freedom to get the news delivered to you, particularly those in front of a PC more days than not. Work smarter, not harder.

    PS: If you know of any other local news sources that have RSS feeds, I would be happy to include them.
    PPS: If you are looking for other blogs, check other bloggers webrolls, or the Planet of the Journals

    Today's Reading List

    Today in the House

    Today's Order Paper

    Questions for Oral Answer

    1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Is it still the goal of her Government to have New Zealand "return to the top half of the OECD ratings by 2011"; if so, will tomorrow's Budget ensure that New Zealand achieves that goal?

    2. MARTIN GALLAGHER to the Minister of Police: What steps has the Government announced which implement the confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First in respect of police numbers?

    3. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Communications: Does he stand by his statement that Telecom shareholders "need to accept that in the short run there may be somewhat lower dividend flows or lower returns"; if not, why not?

    4. MOANA MACKEY to the Minister of Education: What is the Government doing to ensure that students stay at school?

    5. GERRY BROWNLEE to the Prime Minister: Is she satisfied with arrangements for the handling of sensitive Government documents by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; if not, why not?

    6. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his reported statement to the Auckland mayors that "rail will never work"?

    7. SIMON POWER to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statement yesterday that she does not underestimate the difficulties in recruiting extra police; if not, why not?

    8. Hon TONY RYALL to the Minister of Health: How many elective surgery patient discharges were there in the financial year to March 2006, and how does this compare to the same period in 2000/2001?

    9. BARBARA STEWART to the Minister of Health: What steps is he taking to ensure that the significant funding boost to the aged residential care sector that is to feature in this year's Budget is delivered to the aged care sector in its entirety and in a timely fashion?

    10. SANDRA GOUDIE to the Minister for Senior Citizens: Does she stand by her statement that "As far as the Government is concerned, abuse or neglect of our older citizens in residential care - or anywhere else, for that matter - is abhorrent. It is simply unacceptable."; if so, why?

    11. STEVE CHADWICK to the Associate Minister of Health: What initiatives is the Government considering to reduce tobacco consumption?

    12. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Maori Affairs: Does he stand by his translated statement in the House yesterday regarding Te Puni Kokiri that it is not right to say here whether his Ministry is "a waste of time for Maori"; if so, where does he believe Te Puni Kokiri should be held to account?

    Fear mongering by the Daily Post

    I think the headline plastered along the front page of the Daily Post (Rotorua and Eastern BOP daily newspaper) is so far this year’s most inaccurate headline:

    Maori blamed for NCEA slump

    The article makes hay of comments by Rotorua Lakes High School principal John Ellis that it was unfair that his high school, like many in the central North Island had a high failure rate of NCEA Level 1 (the old School Certificate) candidates because of the high level of Maori students in the region, who held the average down…

    First of all well done to John Ellis for not just seeing how that comment would be misconstrued by the media, but justifying his schools less than stellar performance on a statistical anomaly.

    Secondly, well done to the editorial staff of the Daily Post who ignored the public good, by hyper-inflating one person’s viewpoint, and then spent the rest of the time softening the initial response. They will only reinforce an already abundant Maori-bashing mindset, one that does nothing to actually create a positive mindset, crucial to encouraging academic success.

    Finally a big thank you to the reporters Abigail Caspari and Cherie Taylor, who spent no time in proving how this was actually a slump by providing NO evidence of the long term trends in NCEA or it’s equivalent precursors within the region, resorting to unrelated figures:

    “In 2001 33 per cent of Maori students were leaving school without a qualification. That had since dropped to 8 per cent.”
    [Which qualifications are being included here, well we will never know, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the D.P]

    And unarticulated generalisations:

    “Nationally Maori, who traditionally had problems with NCEA…”

    What a monstrosity of journalistic effort.

    Editorialwatch: Manawatu Standard on John Key

    Today's editorial, from the title to the article proper seems to do nothing but stoke the debate of leadership change in the National party, and the first reference I have heard, alluding John Key (National, Helensville) to Conservative (UK) Leader and would be British PM David Cameron. An interesting comparison, considering Cameron's media savvy and dubious past, Key seems dull in comparison.

    But once again, the Nats have to acknowledge how to live in an MMP environment. Trying to get to 45% of the party vote, and simultaneously try to kick New Zealand First and the Greens out of Parliament must have seemed like a fantastic wet dream, which turned into a nightmare when it ultimately failed, and it seems that the only way that National can get back in is if two things happen around the next election:

  • A substantial haemorrhage of Labour support (i.e. an ‘I’m fed up!’ electorate);
  • A viable arrangement of centre right parties ready to go into coalition/support arrangements

    Nothing seems to suggest that this is happening, and in fact what the political discourse is saturated and stale with is clearly more of the same from 2005, from both sides of the House.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. The New Zealand public seems to agree so far in 2006.

  • Happy Birthday to the Nats

    Last night's anniversary party at Parliament looked a swanky affair, with media overage focussing on the reunion of the rolled (or soon to be?)

    I was fascinated by the comments of Jim Bolger and Jim McLeay in the above article:

    ...In his speech to the function, Mr Bolger delivered a plea for more inclusiveness of Maori and Pacific Islanders.

    He noted that Maori corporations were getting bigger and more influential but were not represented at the function. Maori and Pacific Islanders gave New Zealand something extremely precious, "which is babies", Mr Bolger said.

    The party needed to ask itself "Where are we going? New Zealand today is not New Zealand 1936."

    Mr McLay said New Zealand must rejoice in diversity but also be a cohesive, single nation...

    One could read these as coded messages to the effect that National has got them into a hole on race issues that it cannot get out of easily,and a friendly reminder that not all of the party faithful are happy with where they are now. In fact a blog post in a dusty old blog elaborates on the mindset of Bolger regarding 'national identity' (although maybe this is code as well.)

    It is most likely that these comments will fall upon a deaf ear...time will tell how prudent that apporach will be.

    PS: would enjoy comments about the evening and how they found it.

    The latest issue of the Policy Quarterly (VUW School of Government) features an article by Goldie Feinberg-Danieli and Zsuzsanna Lonti called "The Union and Non-Union Wage Differential in the New Zealand Public Service" who contend that:

    ...Contrary to the general findings in the
    international literature, employees on collective
    agreements in the NZPS earn substantially less than
    employees on individual contracts. The negative wage
    differential persists across most employee subgroups.
    However, New Zealand public sector unions seem to
    deliver better results for part-timers, blue-collar workers,
    young workers and lower-skilled white-collar workers,
    groups that are traditionally disadvantaged in the labour

    Probably not a glowing display of union led pay increases. but with this year's demands for wage increases from the department of conservation, inland revenue the police and corrections, this could put a spanner in the works from union members expecting a lot from the negotiations.

    Brash: Hunter has become hunted...again?

    I suppose after reading the Question Time transcript, press releases (1, 2) and the numerous stories (1, 2, 3)in the MSM, I can’t help but be convinced, that the team with the most political instinct or discernment is the very same that is in power. They have in one stroke diverted attention away from the Telecom leak and simultaneously brought back the stories, picturing Don Brash (National, List) as a ‘flip-flopper’, usefully exploited in the 2005 election campaign.

    It is also very funny how things change. Many Right blogs during the David Benson-Pope (Labour, Dunedin South) story highlighted that when criticised for point scoring and gutter politics, the response was that it wasn’t so much the allegations that were touted, but rather that the Minister had lied in the House and in the MSM (1,2, 3, 4) . Now it seems that the Left are now on the same track, in particular Jordan Carter demanding the resignation of Dr Brash as leader of National.

    I guess it comes down to this: who is the bigger problem…a Minister who misleads, or a Prime Minister in waiting who misleads. On the one hand, there is the breach of parliamentary standing orders and on the other the political ineptitude displayed by the most important opposition member. The answer will not be unanimous.

    The other thing is that when Benson-Pope’s allegations came out, the public tired of it, and there was no surge of support to National, in fact one could argue the opposite. I think that this stunt by Winston Peters (New Zealnd First, List) will just as surely meet the same reception. But the advantage that the Government has is that they by virtue of their position can change the media agenda a lot quicker and better than their opponents can. The government would benefit from being prudent, and the National party may benefit by focusing on a better target, one closer to the hearts and minds of Joe Public.

    I am intrigued by the fact that very little has been said of the flip flop between Maurice Williamson (National, Pakuranga) and Brash regarding the party’s support for LLU.

    Today in the House

    Order Paper

    Questions to Ministers

    1. JUDY TURNER to the Minister of Health: Why is the Government building more public hospitals when there is under-utilised capacity in private hospitals?

    2. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement that "it is time to move to the next level in the economic transformation agenda."; if so, how is that agenda affected by last night's Australian budget?

    3. SHANE JONES to the Minister of Finance: Has he received any recent reports on business reaction to the proposed changes to telecommunications regulations announced last week?

    4. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance: Will he be following the lead of Australian Treasurer Peter Costello by raising income tax thresholds and/or cutting tax rates in his 2006 Budget; if not, why not?

    5. DAVE HEREORA to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: What recent steps has the Government taken to further its commitment to settle all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims?

    6. GERRY BROWNLEE to the Prime Minister: Why has she not asked each of her Ministers for an assurance that neither they nor any members of their staff were responsible for last week's leak of the confidential budget-related Cabinet paper?

    7. Dr PITA SHARPLES to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: I runga i te ahua kua tohaina te rima miriona tara mo nga tau e wha ka taea e te Minita te kii mai, e hia nga tono e pa ana ki te Tiriti o Waitangi ka oti, i runga ake i nga tono i whakaritea kia oti, mehemea kare i tukuna e ia te rima miriona tara hei putea?
    Translation: Given the five million dollar funding over a four year period, how many Treaty of Waitangi claims does the Minister believe will be completed, over and above those which would have been completed, had the five million dollars not been made available?

    8. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education: Would a student sitting an NCEA external examination in 2005 have had the same chance of passing a given standard as they would have had in 2004 in the ten mainstream subjects analysed by Professor Warwick Elley; if not, why not?

    9. METIRIA TUREI to the Minister of Education: What initiatives is the Government implementing to support environmental education in light of the Labour-led Government-Green Party co-operation agreement?

    10. Hon TONY RYALL to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement, "What I'm satisfied by is that PlunketLine, in terms of calls picked up, was not providing a good service"; if so, why?

    11. GEORGINA BEYER to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What steps has the Government taken to ensure that Work and Income services are meeting the needs of New Zealanders?

    12. SIMON POWER to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statement to the House on 8 December 2005 that "we will recruit another 1,000 sworn front-line police", and does she mean that there will be 1,000 more sworn police on the streets by the end of this term on top of the current 7,657 sworn front-line officers?

    Today in the House

    Order Paper

    Oral Questions to Ministers - Question Time

    1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in all her Ministers, in light of the leak last week of confidential budget-related Cabinet papers that reportedly wiped $1.8 billion from the market value of Telecom New Zealand Limited, and what steps has she taken to quickly identify the source of the leak?

    2. SHANE JONES to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the Crown's financial position?

    3. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH to the Prime Minister: How long has Taito Phillip Field got to respond to the draft inquiry report of Noel Ingram QC into alleged conflicts of interest?

    4. Hon TONY RYALL to the Minister of Health: Is he concerned about the Government's ability to meet New Zealanders' need for elective surgery; if not, why not?

    5. KEITH LOCKE to the Minister of Police: Has she received any reports that the police are inappropriately using pepper-spray; if so, what action does she plan to take?

    6. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education: What public statements or formal reports has he seen as evidence for his statement in relation to NCEA "that every assessment expert who we have had available to us, including people like John Hattie who has been part of the Ministerial reference group, has said that this year the variation is fine."?

    7. MARYAN STREET to the Minister of Health: What progress has been made on constructing new public hospitals around New Zealand?

    8. Hon TONY RYALL to the Prime Minister: What was the date and nature of the offer made to Plunket that she referred to in the House last week when she said, "I have received advice that Plunket was offered funding for more calls and did not take up the offer."?

    9. GEORGINA BEYER to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has he received on the Government's progress on moving New Zealanders off benefits and into work?

    10. Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister of Civil Defence: Does he stand by his statement in relation to the tsunami warning last Thursday that the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management was "accurately on top of their job" and that "the BBC is at fault"; if so, why?

    11. RON MARK to the Minister of Defence: What is the hourly base rate of New Zealand's Special Air Service soldiers, given that they are contracted with the army to be on duty 24 hours a day, and seven days a week?

    12. SHANE ARDERN to the Minister for Biosecurity: Is he satisfied with current border control checks on meat imports, and was there a risk that foot and mouth disease could have been imported with recent raw pork discovery?

    Facists 2, Humans 0

    Democrracy.net seems to going on a facism slant very recently.

    I thought the piece on the rise of the neo-facist BNP in the British local elections and Margaret Hodge's contribution was very interesting.

    The other article is one by Art Historian Dora Apel. It's a bit out there IMHO, particulary how the "civil defence vodka" was designed for the growing neo facist market in Russia:

    "Civil Defence [vodka] was invented and has been highly successful, not because it tastes better than other vodkas, but because the bottle is impressive to unemployed and disaffected youth, the growing population of racist skinhead gangs, and the supporters and sympathisers of the increasingly strident radical nationalist parties in Russia. While they may or may not recognise the precise source of the image, they are well aware of the fascist and racist ideology it represents, which they identify with right-wing Russian nationalism, and which appeals to some among the youth who perceive post-Stalinism as an era of cynical and corrupt politicians."

    I suggest you read them both.

    Powhiri: why did it get to this?

    If we believe that Judith Collins (National, Clevedon) was not told that a powhiri was to be held until she and the rest of the Select Committee delegation arrived, then you can understand how she would be peeved. I am certain that a compromise could have been reached that would have been amicable. I will elaborate later.

    It seems that there are two arguments here. Actually only one argument has been considered in the blogosphere, and that might be, I assume because there are almost no woman speaking to this topic. The first is on the issue of sexism. The press statements I have seen from political parties (and some blog entries) suggest that the whole matter is sexism behind the veil of tikanga/kawa. I find the argument to be bullshit, as I define powhiri (and I must point out here that this is hardly an expert opinion, being based upon my own experience and education). Why is that? I always respond with the following questions:

    1. What is the first formal, and essential act of the powhiri?

    2. Who performs this?

    3. What is the purpose?

    4. Could this be ignored?

    I reply, as follows;

    1. The karanga (some would argue the wero, but it is rare that these are held, and thus not essential)

    2. Only woman can perform this. In fact only specific woman can (tuakana, the eldest daughter)

    3. They identify manuhiri and tangata whenua, the reason for the meeting, honour the relationship between the groups (that may include highlighting the shared ancestry, if the woman are good at karanga), begin the greetings.

    4. No. But they cover a lot of stuff that is elaborated during the whaikorero (speeches)

    So powhiri cannot be held without a karanga, powhiri cannot be started without women. Of coure, powhiri cannot be finished without men, so what is actually present is a gender balance, roles shared by both men and women.

    That being said, there needs to be a need to address what is more important, the gender, or the prestige (mana) of the individuals who sit at the front. No one denies the reverence placed to MPs in public visits. I agree with Pita Sharples (Maori, Tamaki Makaurau) that the gender barrier could be superseeded by their mana of an MP and thus deserves to sit at the front, male or female. In fact the kaumatua needs to be reminded that departmental policy is that there is no gender gap; woman are allowed to sit at the front and he had better modify his application of kawa.

    Staying on the topic of kawa (accepted protocol on the 'marae'), I do find it unacceptable that the National MPs (Remember it wasn't just Collins who refused to sit at the back, a point I will return to) were talked to in such a disrespectful fashion....It should have been conducted DURING...there is precedent, the idea that the whaikorero can be controversial or antagonistic (but not to the point of conflict) is one that is allowed. The kaumatua’s concerns could have been made then and would have be more acceptable. The speakers that the manuhiri had, would then have to defend and articulate their reasons. Once the powhiri is over, there is a need to 'bury the hatchet' Furthermore I was upset that the SC was not informed properly before the powhiri that one would be held...especially one that would turn out to be a political stunt.

    How is that? The presence of all female National MPs (Anne Tolley (National, East Coast), Paula Bennett (National, List) and Collins) refusing demonstrates a level of collusion that was designed to draw coverage to themselves via the media. I'm not saying that political stunts are wrong, but that both parties refused to actually 'work it out' would have avoided media coverage. It was done to intentionally draw attention.

    Fianlly, it seems that Collins refused to follow other matters of protocol, like the relatively simple act of taking off one shoes, according to RNZ.

    Was anybody expecting this?

    Two-way traffic on Maori electoral roll

    It's a net shift to the Maori roll, but some are shifting across to General from the Maori roll.

    I'm trying to hypothesise the reasons why Maori would shift to the General roll. As I can see, it may be an extension of tactical voting to the next stage...Tactical registration. If you were a die hard non Maori party supporter, why would you stick in an electorate that was most likely going to stay Maori?

    Either that or that Maori are filling out the forms incorrectly. I don't want to make it sound like the concept of filling out a registration form might be too difficult for your average Hohepa Bloggs, but remember a post I did earlier on the high rates of disallowed and informal votes cast in the Maori electorates and it could be plausible that if you have problems filling out a vote slip, you could have just as much trouble.

    In fact, this is an issue that seems to be neglected in the general discourse: why is there this high proportion of informal and disallowed votes within the Maori electorates?

    And why aren't we looking to sort this issue out? (I'm looking at political parties to help on this one)

    Anyway, I’m working on a more general series on voting dynamics for ‘the brown vote’. Stay tuned.

    Who would you trust?

    A comprehensive poll between the BBC, Reuters and The Media Center creates some interesting, but limited statistics about people and the media.

    S Koreans 'trust internet news'

    Media holds its own in trust poll

    Blogs: To trust or not to trust?

    The breakdowns are available here.

    On the same day, The Guardian puts a piece out that BBC misleads in it's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (but apparently, it's not biased.)

    So today's question is...who do you trust?

    Update: The Guardian did a piece on British Market Research Bureau's quarterly report showing that blogs are 'overhyped'

    First two questions up in the House today...

    1. MARYAN STREET to the Minister of Communications:

    What is the Government doing to make faster, cheaper broadband available to all New Zealanders?

    2. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Prime Minister:

    How did Telecom New Zealand Limited obtain a copy of a commercially sensitive Cabinet document?


    • Geoff Hayward
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