BIG NEWS: 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cheese alert! Is Anchor trying to pull a swifty?

Anchor has a block of Edam cheese on the market. It's the same width as the standard 1kg block of cheese. It is the same length as a standard 1kg block of cheese. It's a similar price as a 1kg block of Home Brand cheese. It looks like a 1kg block of cheese. It probably tastes like a 1kg block of cheese.

But the Anchor block of cheese is not a 1kg block of cheese.

It is 900g.

That's because the block is not as high as a standard 1kg block of cheese, but you wouldn't know that as you can't easily see how high the cheese is when it is displayed. And, starting tomorrow, this block will ave a special price of $8.89 at Countdown and Woolworths just to hook more into buying it. Hook you? Well, it is Anchor cheese.

But it's not a bad price for a 1kg block of cheese, if you're fooled. We weren't. But we can't find a 1kg block of Anchor cheese anywhere. Not even on the website. That's because they stopped making it about six weeks ago. Furthermore, we won't when be fooled when the 900g block comes off the special price, either - back up to $13.49 or $15.49 for a tasty block .

Anyway, here's The Muttonbirds.


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Nobbling National has nothing to do with policy

Matt McCarten considers that Labour's only possible chance of winning the general election is to hope it can nobble National's John Key by exposing him as a lightweight.

But to do that properly, Key has to be a lightweight to start with. If he is no lightweight, McCarten thinks Labour has lost the election even if it has better policies than National.

That's also Labour's strategy, but despite claiming National has no policies, the country doesn't want Labour's policies, at this stage they`d rather have the policies that National is yet to announce. Unfortunately National is becoming more like Labour. Helen Clark doesn't answer questions she doesn't want to, she walks away despite having an answer to one particular question for six months. When John Key gets asked questions he doesn't want to answer, he refuses to answer the question.

At least he doesn't walk away. That would just be too much like the outgoing Prime Minister.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Self explanatory, really

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Government pretty much decided on postal smacking referendum months ago

note:this post has been updated
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Robert Peden, has advised the Government that he would prefer that any Citizens Initiated Referenda be conducted by postal vote in 2009 in accordance with the Referenda (Postal Voting) Act 2000. He wasn't given an opportunity by the Government to recommend a postal vote this year.

The Government announced in parliament today that the advice is to be accepted. What it didn't say was that the advice was given to the Government on 17 March - more than three months ago - requesting that a Cabinet decision be made by mid April, two months before the petition was delivered to Parliament. I got the briefing paper emailed to me this afternoon, but due to work commitments, was unable to read it until tonight. But I found it online here [DOC].

The primary reason that the CEO recommended a postal ballot was because he didn't want to do an electoral referendum because he thought it would be too much hard work.

He didn't want the additional administrative challenges of an electoral referendum on top of organising an election, including staff training, and he hadn't got around to arranging the testing the enhancements of the Election Management System. And given that the CEO is not funded to undertake citizen initiated referenda, he hadn't applied for additional funding should the petitions be successful, nor did he appear to want to. It is noted that it cost up to $2.2m more to fund a referenda by postal vote.

Another reason for recommending a postal ballot was because of delays in the two 1999 CIR - delays in part caused by not having distinct colours for each referendum voting paper, meaning the sorting was a lot of hard work. In other words, they didn't get their act together last time and don't want to repeat the process in case they screw up again.

All this can be fixed - its just that the Chief Electoral Officer doesn't want to fix it because doing a postal ballot is a lot easier - it will also mean a reduced response rate,so an electoral referendum could be said to be more democratic.

Yet there is absolutely no reason apart from political pettiness why a postal ballot or an electoral referendum cannot be conducted this year. In fact Parliament could, if it so chooses, vote on a resolution requiring the voting period for a postal ballot to close on Election Day.

If John Key really prefers an election day referendum, lets see his party put forward the resolution if his words are not hollow politicking.

UPDATE Apparently the Chief Electoral Office has been discussing what to do regarding the referendums since late last year and the idea of a 2009 postal referendum appears to have been floated at that time. If so, the briefing is the formal advice of these initial discussions and it means that Larry Baldock and Cheryl Savill, if they were hoping to have referenda at the election, were effectively scuttled before they even got their petition presented the first time - as the Government appears to have informally decided back in 2007 that it did not want an electoral referendum - or a 2008 postal referendum - way back then.If so, the decision was based on politics, not on pragmatism or democracy. In other words, it was rigged.

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In the US, even atheists believe in God

Apparently, according to the latest Pew Forum report on Religion and Public Life, nine out of 10 people in the US believe in God, including some atheists. And nearly 60% of Americans pray to God every day, a with a third saying their prayers are answered once a month.

That's not a very good hit rate, given that 80% believe in miracles. Apparently miracles don't mean answers to prayer. They should pray for stuff that God is more likely to answer - like a request for a good day at work as opposed to a drop in mortgage rates - and take a leaf out of the prayer book of the 10 percent of Americans who pray every day and say they get an answer to prayer at least once a week because at least one in seven of their prayers are realistic.

Also, one in four of the 35,556 surveyed think God is an impersonal force - meaning 65% of the believers think he isn't an impersonal force - and one in five Americans who identified themselves atheists say they believe in God. I thought the whole point of being an atheist was about not believing in God so there are some pretty confused atheists in the US.

Perhaps they thought they were being asked if they were "a theist".

The survey also found nearly three-quarters of Americans believe in heaven as a place where people who have led good lives will be rewarded eternally. Almost 60 per cent believe in hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without repenting are punished eternally.

Many Christians believe that there is more than one road to God, and I wonder how many of them are on the road to hell that is paved with good intentions, but don`t know it?


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Referendum II

Yesterday, I mentioned that if the date of a citizen's initiated referendum on the smacking legislation is to be announced before the announcement of an election day, the referendum can't obviously be held on an announced election day.

However, I`ve since discovered that should an election date be announced between the announcement of the referendum and the date of that referendum, the government can, if it wants to, revoke the former Order in Council and appoint the polling day as the day on which the referendum is to be held.

Or the House can pass a resolution setting the smacking referendum date itself. It can defer the referendum to the following year provided it has 75% support, and it is voted on before 23 September.

I can't see either happening. Assuming the petition is valid, the selective Labour law of common sense is the only thing preventing a printing of the the election papers and the referendum papers at the same time.Also, an early election won't necessarily stop a referendum.

UPDATE: The Herald's John Armstrong concurs
There would be a problem if the election was called before the Office of the Clerk had finished validating the signatures on the petition. That is highly unlikely.

When asked outside Labour's caucus meeting yesterday about how the referendum might square with the election date, Helen Clark walked away. The election timetable is not a subject she is ready to traverse.

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No Right Turn says there is no time for referendum, and he's wrong

Note: see update at bottom of this post
Helen Clark has said it is unlikely that the smacking petition will have its referendum at the election, whereas No Right Turn says it is impossible. He's wrong. John Key says it is:
about democracy, the right of people to be heard and it's the absolute height of arrogance that the prime minister is going to use a technicality within the law to circumvent people's rights to express their views on the issue.

Hes right. Larry Baldock says there is plenty of time to organise a referendum at the election.

Here's how the process works. The clerk of the House has up to two months to certify the petition, have the speaker present it to the house. Then the Governor General has to set a date within a month. So the latest a date can be set, assuming the petition is valid, is 23 September. The earliest is the day it is certified, which could be next month. So by September 23 the Governor General would want to know the election date.

Then if it the referendum is to be held on Election Day the Governor General must issue a writ up to 60 days in advance. That writ must state the last date for return of that writ, being any day up to the the final day of the 60 day period. [And on this point, No Right Turn , where I got some of this information form, is incorrect when he states that "if the referendum is to be held on election day, that must be done 60 days in advance".]

The process can take five months; but it doesn't have to. The last date the election can be held is November 15, although I recon it will be earlier. So if the election date is announced by 23 September (just under eight weeks before the final available election date), there will be plenty of time to organise an election day referendum.

But the Government can be petty and delay the election announcement til after September 23, while announcing a referendum date for next year on September 23 with the excuse that we don't know the election date so we can't therefore announce an election day referendum.[Clarification: But read this .]

If there's enough time to organise an election, there's enough time to organise a referendum. To set and maintain a date after the election would be the kind of petty politics that No Right Turn apparently approves of - and that approval surprises me, given his views on democracy.

UPDATE: I see No Right Turn has done a correction in line with the above. I have also linked a clarification. NRT maintains the process takes four months. That's not the issue. The issue is the announcement of an election date. If the election date is announced on or before September 23, the referendum date can be announced for exactly the same date. Helen Clark can announce an election date today if she wants to - she can certainly signify that a referendum is to be held at the election once the petition is declared valid, so authorities have more time to prepare.

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Police investigate offences they consider acceptable behaviour

Police have released another review of the Section 59 legislation.

Beth Wood from EPOCH says its all good news. That's because the Police state there is a reduction in smacking events attended in the past quarter. So why does Family First's Bob McCoskrie say there is a substantial jump?

Here's why. Police have divided corrective discipline into "smacking" and "minor forms of physical violence", the latter rate having gone up every quarter. I asked Belinda, who heads the Police team who did the report, what the distinction is between these two categories.

She defined smacking as a corrective smack on the bum with an open hand; which most people - even in the police, but perhaps not Sue Bradford - would view as acceptable discipline. She said there was no difference between smacks and minor forms of physical violence, but agreed that the latter constituted "something more than a smack on the bum" .

Like two smacks, perhaps.Which most people would also view as acceptable. She also agreed that the wording should have been " minor forms of physical discipline" as per the wording of the report and to reflect the corrective aspect of physical discipline, and the majority were of the kind that would be successful in a reasonable force defence in court. Any discipline with an implement is child assault.

So, Police consider most minor forms of physical violence are acceptable smacks. Police investigated over more than cases of corrective discipline since the law change, with an increase each quarter. Two were charged with assault so they were obviously not minor forms of physical violence.

Colin Espiner makes the point that law abiding parents haven't been prosecuted. Well, neither have parents who have been investigated and found to have inconsequentially broken physical discipline laws. Parents are being investigated for things that police view as acceptable, and they are incorrect to claim that they are attending less smacking events.

Mike Hosking does a pretty classic interview with Rob Pope; and also Sue Bradford and doesn`t believe a word she says.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please help Andrew out

Dear Blog Reader,

My name is Andrew Cushen, and I am conducting a survey of New Zealand Political Blog Readers. This survey is part of my research toward a Master of Arts in Political Studies at the University of Auckland.

As the reader of a blog that features postings related to political news, discussion and debate in New Zealand politics, I invite you to participate in this survey.

Please follow this link to the survey.

This link will take you to the survey and also provide you with further information on how and why this research is being conducted. If you would like to ask me further questions about the survey or about my research in general, you will find my contact details listed on this page also.

I would appreciate it if you would complete this survey by Friday the 4th of July.

Thank you, Andrew Cushen
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It is irresponsible to pass useless legislation just to send a message

This from Frogblog about the tagging legislation:
In his classic style, Nandor ripped into the House last night, telling those who support the tagging legislation that it is irresponsible to pass useless legislation just to send a message. He pointed out that everyone who spoke in favour of the legislation railed about the evils of tagging and its link to violence, while openly admitting that the Bill itself wouldn’t work. He called on Parliament to step back and take a breath.

This shows that the Greens are inconsistent and hypocritical. Let's discuss another bill. Imagine if Nandor had said this a couple of years ago.
In his classic style, Nandor ripped into the House last night, telling those who support the anti smacking legislation that it is irresponsible to pass useless legislation just to send a message. He pointed out that everyone who spoke in support of the legislation railed about the evils of smacking and its link to violence, while openly admitting that the Bill itself wouldn’t solve child abuse. He called on Parliament to step back and take a breath.


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Is a party logo an election advertisment?

Such a big issue. Under the Electoral Finance Act, is a political party logo an election advertisement. That is a question the Electoral Commission looked at at its meeting in May and June and will further consider at its next meeting on 27 July. Will it make a decision this time, or will it base its decision on the law of common sense?

The Electoral Finance Act defines an election advertisement as any form of words or graphics, or both, that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a party/ies or candidate/s.

So I rang Peter at the Commission to ask what was going on. He said he didn`t really know. He said he wasn`t the Electoral Commission and wouldn't tell me if the Law Commission had provided advice. It's a very sensitive issue. Crown Law has been offering advice on this but the Commission appears to be wanting to base its decision on any implications, rather than the law itself and would rather make a decision on this once the election is over to avoid such implications.

So, Dr Claire Robinson of Massey University has offered her advice in the the New Zealand Herald today
This is in fact a very simple issue. Without question, logos are election advertisements in terms of the definition contained in the Electoral Finance Act.
And half the Commission agree- the other half apparently won't agree because of the implications.As the Herald notes, once it is acknowledged that party logos are election advertisements, all stationery, cars, electorate offices, pens, backdrops at party conferences, and banners will need an authorising name and address.

Its not big money that is causing the headaches at the Electoral Commision, its a simple, silly unnecessary authorising statement that Labour wrote into this law.


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Labour achievement number two

Tony Milne has been running a lovely series about all Labour's achievements. Here's achievement number two:
Labour achievement 2: More teachers More teachers mean better quality education for all children: Since 1999 Labour has provided over (sic)5,200 new teachers over and above those required for roll growth. This lowers the class ratios and boosts quality.
Quite how it boosts quality, I`m not quite sure. Perhaps more teachers mean better quality education in the same way as more bar staff in pubs mean better quality alcohol for all drinkers.

I think Tony wanted to say that higher quality teaching leads to better education for all children. But that is not one of Labour's achievements.


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Why I`m voting Labour

I’m voting Labour because being part of a collective gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling all over.
I’m voting Labour because common sense and the most basic of intelligence tells me Communism will work one day and we need to keep trying.
I’m voting Labour because true Communism has never been tried, and all it needs is another 70 years and 120 million deaths for it to work.
I’m voting Labour because otherwise New Zealand would be run by the Business Round Table.
I’m voting Labour because businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.
I`m voting Labour cos I really like the snazzy graphs on The Standard.
I’m voting Labour because big corporations (powerful entities with lots of money made from selling people goods and services they want to buy), can’t be trusted; but Big Government (a powerful entity with lots of money extorted from its rightful owners), can be.
I’m voting Labour because I need to be told what is good and bad for me.
I’m voting Labour because I can’t and daren't think for myself.
I’m voting Labour because rich people should be told just how “fair” their fair share really is, without ever defining what “rich” is.
I’m voting Labour because thinking for myself is redundant when a politician or bureaucrat with a sociology degree or polytech diploma best interprets what’s good for me, how to spend my money, how to educate my children etc.
I’m voting Labour because I believe the government should be able to take the property and income I’ve worked for, and give it to someone else who refuses to work or save.
I’m voting Labour because I don’t pay enough tax.
I’m voting Labour because I want more soft-on-crime judicial appointments.
I’m voting Labour because I care about the real victims of crime — criminals. I’m voting Labour because everyone deserves dice-roll healthcare.
I’m voting Labour because motorists aren’t paying enough for petrol.
I'm voting Labour because I love riding my pushbike up steep hills on sleeting winter mornings to get to work.
I’m voting Labour because if I don’t have enough money, the government will take more of my money.
I’m voting Labour because they plan to increase the price of petrol to pay the Russian Mafia for Kyoto.
I’m voting Labour because truth and justice are too subjective.
I’m voting Labour because one day, I want be a victim too.
I’m voting Labour because I don’t understand human nature or economics.
I’m voting Labour because that I believe that two bludgers can live off one worker indefinitely.
I’m voting Labour because I love the idea of redistributing other people’s money.
I’m voting Labour because I feel guilty for having always worked hard.
I’m voting Labour because paying more than 50 percent of my income in combined taxes is not enough and I want to subsidise more illegal immigrants and hip hop tours.
I’m voting Labour because I fear ambition and success - the government must take care of me.
I’m voting Labour because I'm terrified of making decisions for myself.
I’m voting Labour because I’d prefer to live in a state house.
I’m voting Labour because I am tired of working for a living - I want a benefit.
I’m voting Labour because I‘m entitled to everyone else’s success, no matter how much harder they worked or how much more risk they took.
I’m voting Labour because I want more Sky channels for my new 65" flat screen that I bought with the rich pricks’ tax money - don't I deserve it for raising all these children on my own?
I’m voting Labour because I want smart people who worked hard all their life to pay for my bad choices and self-inflicted shortcomings.
I’m voting Labour because I am a victim of every earthly affliction.
I’m voting Labour because CO2 emissions must be drastically reduced to save our planet, even if our living standards revert to those prevailing in the Dark Ages. I’m voting Labour because I believe we need other countries’ permission for me to use my heater or drive a V8.
I’m voting Labour because farmers, hunters and fisherman don’t care about the environment, but dedicated activists who’ve never set foot outside the uni common room and Starbucks do.
I’m voting Labour because any person who flushes his travel documents on the plane should get massive legal aid to stay in New Zealand, bring out their whole family, and go on the dole.
I’m voting Labour because I believe making peace signs at people whose declared intention is to kill me will make them go away.
I’m voting Labour because I want the United Nations to govern my country.
I’m voting Labour because one day I want to press #4 for English
I’m voting Labour because all this middle class guilt is killing me.
I’m voting Labour because the real cure for racism is hate speech laws and preferential policies based on race.
I’m voting Labour because young Kiwis should be brainwashed at school instead of learning useless stuff like Maths and English.
I’m voting Labour because I’d rather everybody was illiterate and ignorant and never questioned anything the government does as long as Nanny State guarantees that I can live off other people for the rest of my life.
I’m voting Labour because an inflated and unjustified sense of self-esteem is more important than teaching kids to read, write, or critically analyse anything.
I’m voting Labour because competitive, externally moderated examinations are elitist.
I’m voting Labour because my Dad and his father before him voted Labour.
I'm voting Labour because I trust Michael Cullen to make the trains run on time.
I'm voting Labour because I think Judith Tizard is a hottie.
I'm voting Labour because the new generation of Labour politicians have a solid grounding in uni student politics and trade unionism.
I'm voting Labour because all those snakes and spiders in Australia are scary.
I'm voting Labour because the polls are wrong.
I'm voting Labour because they have the uncanny knack of saying exactly what I'm feeling. feminist girlfriend said she’d dump me if I didn’t.
But most of all I'm voting Labour because I LOVE MY UBER NANNY - HELEN CLARK!

UPDATE I initially got this emailed to me by a reader and have just discovered the source. And I have discovered that the writer, Southern Raider, got his idea from either this Town Hall Column, - or this You Tube video as some of the phrases are either identical or similar. The least I could do is acknowledge that.


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Labour out of '20's but still with the less support than Social Credit in 1981

The corks will be popping on the 9th floor as Helen Clark and Judith Tizard high five each other in their delight that Labour is no longer polling in the '20's.

Still, Labour has less support than Social Credit did in 1981 before the election.


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Serious al-Qaeda security breach

Police are investigating a "serious" security breach after a civil servant lost top-secret documents containing the latest intelligence on al-Qaeda on the seat of a train ,and gave it to the BBC.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Associated Press gets heavy handed - bloggers retaliate

The blogosphere bites back. The Associated Press took offense when some poor blogger quoted a few words of an AP story in his blog and asked for some money over unfair use of article excerpts and charged $2.50 per word. Michelle Malkin, who only gets 244,000 visits a day to her blog, has noticed that the AP has nicked some of her work without paying for it. She is apparently owed $132,125 on the AP pay scale. Ka ching-ching-ching.


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Police in Manakau are in "high spirits" after homicides

Police want everyone to know that crime is not escalating in Manakau.Detective Inspector John Timms said despite the number of homicide investigations in the area police were in high spirits and reassured the public that Counties-Manukau was a safe place.

"If you need assistance then it's important that you ring the police immediately," he said.

But theres one small matter. Most crime in Manakau is ignored by police. Once you have rung them, these high spirited police have to leave the police station and get somewhere in time. That's the issue. Police in Manakau are calling in reinforcements from outside the district to cope with crime because the number of sworn officers per head of population in Counties Manakau is the second-lowest in the country.

I wonder how many are on traffic duty.

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Helen and her bottleshop blame game

Helen Clark wants to get rid of some bottle shops. She has had another failing knee-jerk reaction and has made a decision on the grounds of "appearing to do something". She said that she wanted Parliament to revisit liquor laws to cut the number of liquor outlets in poor areas, after the Manurewa bottle store shooting. Fat lot of good that will do. It's not how many outlets there are in an area, but the attitudes of the people in an area to crime and alcohol,and what the people in an area do with the booze when they get it that is more important, and how the police respond to crime. According to John Key, the number of sworn officers per head of population in Counties Manukau is the second-lowest in the country.

Figures from Statistics NZ show that in 2006 Manukau City had one off-licensed premise for every 1778 people compared to one for every 942 in Christchurch. But as Cameron Slater notes, in Manurewa ward there are 33 off licence liquor outlets for a population of 80,000 or one booze outlet for 2400 citizens.Clevedon has 11 off licences for a population of 10,000 citizens or one for every 833 citizens.

Going by Clark’s suggestion, there should be nearly three times as many bodies piling up in the streets of Clevedon than Manurewa.

The PM does not comment as to why the knee jerk reaction is this year. It must be election year. She has refused to comment on the fact that attackers of bottles stores have a certain similarity. Here are some recent attacks and killings over the past few years. Spot the similarity. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve.

That similarity is a more relevant variable than the number of liquor stores in an area. Richer whiter people are unlikely to attack or kill people in bottle stores.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In Parliament today

Gordon Copeland: Would the Prime Minister agree with the comment of a former High Court judge that family breakdown is the major driver of violent crime in South Auckland and elsewhere; if so, would she support a royal commission to understand and address that issue, as called for in the petition of Larry Baldock and 296,000 others recently delivered to the Office of the Clerk?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not have any evidence to suggest that family breakdown would be the predominant cause, but I do think that those who grow up in homes without love and who experience violence are certainly more likely to have a predisposition to it. We need to break that cycle of violence, which is what a great deal of our Government’s activity has been devoted to.

Helen Clark thinks bottle stores are a driver of violent crime. A High Court judge says it is family breakdown. Labour is doing nothing about the latter and has done nothing about the former despite a review of liquor outlets in 2006.


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Abortion: who is braver, the mother or the aborter?

The latest abortion figures were released today . More are having abortions, and a quarter of them are teens. Abortion is by far the most common medical surgical procedure our young women receive.

There are two things just about everybody agrees on. There's too many abortions and abortion laws are an ass.

Where people disagree is whether, in a case where a baby is unwanted, it is more tragic to have an abortion or to give birth. Those who support a woman's right to have an abortion think both are tragic, those who are pro life think abortion is tragic and an unplanned pregnancy is unfortunate.

Here's a person who had an abortion on mental health grounds, and people say she is brave for speaking out on it. I agree. Yet she says she is pro choice. as well as wanting to see abortion on demand.

The Herald has a piece on a woman who had an illegal abortion this month that was certified as legal. I know this because of her reason for abortion was not on mental health grounds. She had no mental health issues, in fact she was able to write quite a coherent piece for the newspaper a short time after. Her reason for having an abortion:
I don’t believe we could provide for a baby financially or emotionally, let alone give it the stable, loving and positive environment every child deserves to have.
I feel selfish, guilty and sad, but I cannot cope with the prospect of a baby in my life when I’m so young, and so totally unprepared.
Mental health had nothing to do with it. In reality, both these women had abortions because, in their view, the "tragedy" of having an abortion was not as tragic as the tragedy of having a baby. In other words, living with the consequences of abortion is preferable to them than living with the consequences of bearing a child. It doesn't help when many abortion counsellors are telling women that a routine pregnancy carries more risk than an abortion does, which, of course, is utter crap.

While not one to minimise the tragedy of abortion, why is it "brave" to talk about an abortion, but not so 'brave" to talk about an unwanted baby you gave birth to instead of aborting? Why are those who have had an abortion happy to criticise those who haven't had an abortion for commenting on abortion, when these same childless people are quite happy to comment on having a child?.

Just like an atheist needs more proof that God doesn't exist than does a person who believes God does exist, a pregnant woman who doesn't want a baby is braver if she has the baby than if she has an abortion and publically discusses it later on.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peter Dunne interviewed by Gordon Campbell

Every now and then a journalist does a good interview of an MP. Last Friday it happened again. Gordon Campbell interviewed Peter Dunne.

Topics include abortion, tax - and income splitting, Kyoto and ETS, religion and being a centre party. Oh, and Christian parties.
Campbell: Do you think any of the Christian-based parties will cross the 5 % threshold this year?

Dunne : No. United Future is not in that camp, not any more.

Campbell: You’ve been through your prayer meeting phase ?

Dunne : Well, we were never really in it. I certainly wasn’t. But we had some people who imagined that United Future could become New Zealand’s version of the Taliban.

Campbell: Right.

Dunne : And they’ve now thankfully left to pursue their course to oblivion.


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Nationwide counselling service could fit in a large elevator

Got a call from Whats Up today. They wanted some money so that they can run their counselling service for kids who ring up about child abuse, questions on sexual orientation and the like. The service is sponsored by Telecom and the Yellow Pages.

I rung them up to see how long that it would take to answer their phone. I waited 15 minutes as all their "trained counsellors were busy", the ansaphone said in a hip cool voice.

All three of them.


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Smacking referendum likely

Just been advised that the collectors of signatures for the smacking referendum have now got 380,000 signatures. So it looks likely that there will be a referendum. Or will they go to Crown Law for advice - like everything else - once authorities realise that there is enough signatures to force a referendum.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

While Labour MPs either get divorces or civil unions, National MPs...

get engaged to be married
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WINZ Deputy Chief Executive stretches truth in Dominion Post

Patricia Reade, Deputy Chief Executive of Work and Income stated in a letter to the Dominion Post this week that there is no link between the number receiving an unemployment benefit, and a sickness or invalids benefit.

She felt the need to do that because a former staff member pointed out that there was indeed a link and people were going to the doctor claiming depression so as to go on sickness and invalids benefits. Unfortunately for Ms Reade, most of the figures of benefit transfers are in the public arena, and nearly a quarter of new applications for the Sickness and Invalids Benefits are made by people already recieving a main benefit.

Of those who were on an Unemployment Benefit last year, 193 transferred to the Invalids benefit and massive 8579 transferred to the Sickness Benefit. That’s just last year. Of those who were on a Sickness Benefit, 5968 transferred to the Invalids benefit, including probably some of the ones that were transferred from the Unemployment Benefit earlier in the year, hence the link to the Unemployment Benefit. That’s the highest amount since 2002. Fewer than 300 transferred the other way off the Invalids benefit.

So now we have a little bit of an idea as to why the Invalids Benefit numbers have increased. For Ms Reade to say that there is no link is simply untruthful. Even her own Ministry does not agree with her. From the Ministry’s research:
Through disillusion with their prospects as job seekers, or as a result of being moved by the employment services or by benefit administrators, [people] progressively moved on to incapacity-related benefits.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bob Jones has had a gutsful

He voted National in 1981, three years later he got 12.4% of the vote - but no seats - with the New Zealand Party - and now that he knocked off Rob Muldoon, he wants to knock off Helen Clark. He is going to vote National for the first time since 1981.

Jones has had a gutsful of the undemocratic Electoral Finance Act. He thinking of testing it with an ad campaign against the Government.
This is the most despicable thing I think I have seen in my lifetime in this country, I really do, certainly by any Government... this overwhelms me. I cannot believe it happened.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

How easy is that!

Christchurch GP Pippa MacKay, who performs abortions at Lyndhurst Hospital, said she applies the law."If someone says to me they will suffer depression if they have a child, then I accept that." Lets put that into plain English.

So, this is how you have an abortion:
They ask the woman whether having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.

And that's not all...

How to get a sickness benefit
They ask the person if they are sure they have depression and the person says, “Oh yes I am” and the doctor says “Okay”.

How to reduce child abuse
They ask the Children`s Commissioner if a smacking ban will reduce child abuse and she says "Oh yes it will" and Parliament says "Okay".

How to get a civil union
They ask thousands in the the gay community if they will get a civil union if such laws are introduced, they say " Oh yes we will", and Parliament says "Okay".

How to get parole
The Parole Board asks a prisoner if he [or she] will be good if they were to be let out of prison and they say "Oh yes I will" and the Parole Board says, "Okay - we`ll see you in a few years".

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

GP has an abortion so she can get back to work performing abortions.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland is disappointed that Christchurch GP Dr. Pippa MacKay returned to work yesterday after having an abortion.

Her abortion was granted on the grounds that her mental health was at risk. She said she had been mildly depressed since lunchtime last Tuesday, but admitted the depression had suddenly got a lot worse.

"I`m not sure if I am more disappointed over the fact that Dr. Mackay returned to work after having an abortion or the fact that she had an abortion, " Mr. Copeland said. "And if her mental health was really at risk, what's she doing back at work?"

It is understood it was Dr. MacKay's second abortion and that she used contraception at conception. "I was fully protected," she said. "But unfortunately, not protected enough. I`m so depressed. It was lucky I made the decision to have an abortion before I got pregnant because I hate making these types of decisions when I have a new life inside of me".

"It's better aborting it out than adopting it out to some family that doesn't want it."

Right To Life spokesperson Ken Orr said the reason she was depressed was obvious. "She had an abortion. Had she kept the baby she would not be depressed and she would have been on paid parental leave, where she should be."

Dr. Mackay said she would like to have a child some day. "I would like to have a child some day," she said. "Sadly, I don`t have children, but we are trying very hard to have children. But unfortunately the time was not right. I am working overtime until the end of the month and the money`s really good."


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time to uphold or reform abortion law?

New Zealand’s present abortion laws are based around the 1977 Abortion, Contraception and Sterilisation Act.. This law does not confer or recognise a legal right to life for an unborn child until that child is a person, and that abortions can only be granted on the grounds of serious damage to the mother's life or health. Yet many have claimed that this country has abortion on demand. Right To Life is one such group - except they went to court over it.

Right to Life's lawyer said that the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) was not supervising the work of certifying consultants as it should and that had led to abortion on request. The High Court pretty much agreed. Justice Millar said.
There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed, the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended.
The full judgement is here [PDF]

The court found that the ASC has failed to use its powers under the law - powers to review or scrutinise the decisions of certifying consultants. The Committee is responsible for reviewing all the provisions of the abortion law, and the operation and effect of those provisions in practice and it is not doing its job properly.

Instead it has been hiding behind what has now been confirmed as a misinterpretation, of case law on s187a of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, which states an abortion can only be done if it affects the life or health of the women. The ASC claims
...the wording has claimed to have a defacto liberal interpretation. Case law does not refute this understanding. The Supervisory Committee therefore has no choice but to accept that this is the intent.
Not any more. And this is why Right To Life has opened up a can of worms. The Courts have instructed the ASC that the law must be applied consistently, to the letter of the law, not some liberal interpretation of it - although it refused to comment on that application.

However, if a doctor takes the view of the ASC, in that he does not believe the abortion to be lawful as Parliament intended, he could get up to seven year's imprisonment if convicted - because he clearly believes it to be an unlawful - albeit acceptable - interpretation of the Act.

Currently ,women aged 20-24 have 70 percent of abortions. In 2006, 11 percent of women who had an abortion had two or more abortions, . And 43% of all women who had abortions had used contraception.

Abortion costs taxpayers millions - each abortion cost $850 before 14 weeks and $1,650 after. The question now is what happens next? Taxpayer funded abortion on demand sanctioned by law, or parliamentary approved lawbreaking by its failure to do anything about it - ie. the law of common sense. Craig Young has posted his views on the matter, saying current laws are expensive, unrealistic, punitive,complicated, outdated, disempowering, undemocratic, inequitable and ineffective.

Parliament has also ensured that its laws are a farce. At the very least the Government should examine the relationship between abortion and depression, anxiety and substance abuse, but it refuses to even do that.


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Another tertiary cockup

Regular readers may recall that last year I enrolled for a tertiary paper but had to withdraw from that paper because I couldn't get the books as they didn't order enough. The school concerned refused to give me my fees back, so with the assistance of the student's association, I had to write to the Vice Chancellor to get a refund.

As it happens, the paper is a core paper for my degree so I had to sit it this year. The exam was today. The paper coordinator was kind enough to e-mail the 2008 exam paper to us to select and study the questions beforehand.

When I got to the exam I got a shock. They gave us the 2008 exam paper, alright - but it had the 2007 questions on it. It was an honest mistake, and probably very embarrassing for the paper co-ordinator, but one that really should not have happened.

So much for relieving stress levels. Although at least one of the questions were the same, all but one of the questions I had studied for were not, and I spent most of the first quarter of the exam trying to work out whether I should answer the 2007 questions or the 2008 questions I was sent and had prepared for.

What would you have done?
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High Court allows Labour to break the Law

The National Party has failed to have the Electoral Commission refer a Labour party leaflet that breached the Electoral Finance Act to the police.

But the Police is investigating it anyway after a member of the public referred it to the police.

The High Court found that the Electoral Commission, not the High Court, had to determine a value judgment of what is "inconsequential" when referring an electoral matter to the police.

But it never does. Here's how things work: Parliament passes a law so that it can break the law on the basis of " inconsequentiality". The Electoral Commission does not want to decide what is inconsequential so refers everything to Crown Law for advice. Crown Law, in batting for the Government, errs on the side of caution every time - sometimes on the dubious grounds of "education".

This is not about law at all. This is about politics. As a result no one is the wiser on the Electoral Finance Act. It also gives the police an excuse not to prosecute if a member of the public refers further illegalities to the police while the Crown Law dictated Electoral Commission fails to do so.

So why even have the law in the first place?

There. Now I`ve said that, I may have to blog about this High Court decision as well. But I have to sit an exam so that`ll have to wait.


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Government encourages use of power in its campaign to reduce power

The Government is trying to curb our use of power by commencing a public education campaign.

Problem is, its a TV campaign, and you need to use power to see it. And if you want to see the campaign in comfort, you`ll probably have the lights and the heater on. Here at Big News, we suggest you turn your TV off at the wall to save power, and if you have a plasma TV, don`t use the standby button, it wastes power.

The best way the Government can use the television networks to save power is to shut them down for a weekend.


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Labour's friends are deserting them

Matt McCarten has written a pretty good column in which he notes that Labour is lacking prospective coalition partners. The Greens realised this a while back which is why it is trying to rort the system to give the left more votes.

But Labour losing its friends is the fault of Helen Clark. That's what happens when you go into Government with support of the only parties that won`t last if their leaders go - NZ First and United Future. The Greens and the Maori party rely on different cleavages for their support - post-materialistic and ethnic - and these cleavages are rising in New Zealand's version of multi party politics. Plus, the Greens have seen themselves as Labour's natural coalition partners - but were snuffled when UnitedFuture and NZ First said they would not be part of any coalition with the Greens.

But any future majority coalition government may well need the support of the Maori Party or the Greens - or both. But its the Greens who are the "last cab off the rank" at the moment. The Maori Party is the centre party of this election - the only party that is pissing them off is the party that needs them the most - the Greens.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vote Green or you`ll get the finger

How the Greens, after the anti smacking bill, is marketing itself. It's on the Green's website and postered around Auckland


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Labour revealed as bully boys

Labour has been bullying officials over complaints that their brochures have breached the Electoral Finance Act. The bullying letter is here
National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says an aggressive letter from Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith also reveals Labour politicians were saying one thing in public, but the Party was doing something else behind the scenes.

“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to electoral law.”

Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith wrote to the Electoral Commission on April 8, to dispute its ruling that the Labour brochure was in breach of the law.

The letter says: ‘I would ask that a correction be entered on the Commission website, clearly indicating that any alleged breach was not a breach by the Labour Party. I would also like to take the opportunity to make submissions to the Commission regarding the way in which it handles the application of the law in relation to political parties’.

Mr English says that leaves Labour with a “credibility problem”, because two days after the letter was sent, Justice Minister Annette King was telling the public that Labour accepted the Commission’s ruling.


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Keep your sticky mitts off our party votes

There's a bit of a bitch fight going on between the Greens and the Maori Party at the moment.

And the Greens started it.

They want those in the Maori seats to vote Green instead of the Maori Party for the list vote and encourage this by putting forward candidates - because the Maori Party vote is likely to be "wasted" due to getting more electoral seats in proportion to that party vote.

So, the Greens want an overhang, and to directly benefit from it so that National and friends needs a bigger majority to govern.In other words they want the Left to have more seats than their list vote entitle them to. Or, to put it another way, if the Greens get more list seats off the Maori electorate, that does not mean that the Maori party loses more seats - because they`ll probably get more than they currently have- but there will be more MPs in parliament, creating a bigger Maori seat overhang.

If the Maori Party don`t like the Greens putting forward low profile candidates in the Maori seats as it may take off list votes that may not be needed, it should work to increase its list vote in the wider electorate, not just the Maori electorate.

Also see Labour's friends are deserting them .

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Greens are merely following the law

So, Green co-leader Russel Norman is going to be an MP before the election. However some are saying that leapfrogging two list places to do so is undemocratic and it should not be allowed to happen because it manipulates the list. Instead of pointing the finger at the Greens,they should be querying the law, because that law allows political parties - or specifically, candidates - to disregard list rankings when entering parliament - with or without a party membership vote. Specifically Section 137 of the Electoral Act 1993.
137 Method of supplying vacancy
(2) The Chief Electoral Officer shall determine which of the unelected candidates whose name was included in the same party list as the member whose seat has been declared vacant stood highest in the order of preference.

(4) If that candidate is still alive and remains a member of that political party, the Chief Electoral Officer shall then inquire of that candidate whether that candidate is willing to be a member of Parliament, and if that candidate so indicates his or her willingness, the Chief Electoral Officer shall declare that person to be elected by notifying the person’s election in the Gazette.

(5) If that person has died or is no longer a member of the political party or does not signify his or her willingness to be a member of Parliament, the Chief Electoral Officer shall proceed to make the inquiries described in subsection... (4) of this section in respect of the following candidate in order of preference on the party list, and so on, in descending order of preference, until one of the candidates who remains a member of the party signifies his or her willingness to be a member of Parliament, in which case the Chief Electoral Officer shall declare that person to be elected by notifying the person’s election in the Gazette.
The fact that the party did a postal vote to get Norman in makes the Greens more democratic than the law. The fact that Mike Ward got arm twisted to announce that he will not signify his willingness to become an MP is irrelevant.

And I see that even Garth George likes the Greens provided that there arent to many of them in Parliament. Me, I quite like the Family Party, provided none of them get into Parliament.


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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obese people smack their kids more

Family First NZ is questioning why a government sponsored survey of obesity rates and related issues of exercise, TV watching, nutrition, fast food and drinking patterns has included a question on smacking and its effectiveness.

The survey noted that Pacific Island children were more likely to be smacked, but parents stated smacking was the least effective option. "I would have thought it was patently obvious that the more obese a child was, the less effective the smack would be", Mr McCoskrie said. "The fatter you are, the less it would hurt".

Children's Commissioner Dr. Cindy Kiro welcomed the surveys findings. "Once again yet another survey shows that smacking is ineffective, and that proves that anti smacking legislation works," she said. " Yee-har".

Overseas research shows that mildly obese kids are 25% more likely than skinny runts to have a smack hit its target. With moderately obese kids the likelihood increase to 65% as these poor kids are have the additional problem in that they are so obese they cant run away from parents brandishing the wooden spoon.

Green MP Sue Bradford, whose private member's bill removed from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of reasonable force to correct a child,said even obesity has its positive spinoffs in terms of harm minimisation. "However, its a bit of a concern that obese children are getting smacked more purely because they are less able to run away from smacking parents, with the additional impediment that they have more body mass to be struck with."

"No wonder obese kids are getting bullied more at school."

Dr. Kiro praised skinny kids who are able to run away from school bullies, and parents who intend to smack. "This further proves smacking is ineffective if parents can't catch their kids to administer violence. Wouldn't it be better just to shout at them instead and give them a hug later on?"

"The reason the smacking question was in that survey is because we need to do more research on why obese children are getting smacked more."

Mr McCoskrie said reason was obvious. "They`re obese! They need to stay trim and eat less pies. Perhaps they should go without breakfast twice a week." He said the heavyweight Children`s Commissioner should be downsized because she was clearly not doing her job in promoting the welfare and best interests of children. "Although most parents are doing a marvellous and effective job in smacking their kids, others should be taught how to smack forcefully and correctly, instead of being taught how to operate DVDs. What we need is a public education campaign to teach parents how to smack their children, and this obviously needs a fitness component for obese parents of skinny kids".
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

CPAG want beneficiaries to get more than the minimum wage

The MSM has reported on the case [also here] taken today by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on the In Work Tax Credit (IWTC) aspect of the Working For Families package, maintaining that not to give this tax credit to beneficiaries is allowing children to live in poverty.

What struck me was that the CPAG defines poverty as living on less than 60 per cent of the median income - about $43,000 a year after tax. Assume that includes WFF payments. Many families with cars and mortgages will be living in poverty if it wasn't for WFF as it means that if you are an average sized family earning less than $33,000 you`re living in poverty and CPAG thinks you should get the In Work Payment whether you work or not.

But if you are on an income tested benefit, the CPAG thinks you deserve it more than if you are a low income family on , say $30,000 who works 29 hours a week. Should the CPAG win its case, beneficiaries may* get more than the current minimum wage. And given that Work and Income consider a full time earner to be working 30 hours a week or more, any coming off the benefit to work 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will be taking a $3,0000 pay cut to get a job if their benefit is not topped up - and that's allowing for the $60.00 IWTC.

And if it is topped up, the Social Security Act will have to be amended to allow for this guise of work for the dole. If the CPAG wins its case, the Government may have to increase the minimum wage as those on the minimum wage can't go on a benefit to get more money as they working more than 30 hours a week* - although those on the benefit can get a part time job to get more money. If they drop their hours and go on an abated benefit they would still keep their IWTC.
Please check out the earlier post on this over here.
*however the case is not binding so it may well mean the Government ignores any success.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Should non workers get an in work payment?

Should beneficiaries get a $60.00 In Work Tax Credit (IWTC)? Currently, they don't, so the Child Poverty Action Group is challenging the Government tomorrow, claiming the policy is discriminatory.

Yet it is no more discriminatory than refusing the IWTC to students with kids who collect a student allowance - or even perhaps grandparents who parent children while collecting National Superannuation.[Update: National super is not an income tested benefit so, like most earners, those on National Super would only get the IWTC if they worked 30 hours a week or more].

While I support moves to assist the poor I have a few questions: If the Child Poverty Action Group thinks government policies should treat all children from low income families the same then why isn't this reflected in this case?

Whats so special about children whose parents collect a main benefit?

Why should parents on a benefit get the IWTC but superannuants and low income two parent families who get off their backsides, off a benefit, and work part time - say 29 hours a week - miss out completely?


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Monday, June 02, 2008

Tonight's TV1 poll: National 55, Labour 29

This is just getting silly. These aren't seats, they are percentages. If this poll translates to seats in the House and the Maori Party get all the Maori seats, even with the overhang, National can govern alone.

Although Greens and NZ First seem to be picking up votes from Labour, one wonders why 6% see Winston Peters as preferred PM but not many of them willing to vote NZ First, I don't know...

Labour has no friends. Well, maybe Jim Anderton, that's all. Not even the Greens are friends now. Still waiting for the Greens to come out and say they`ll either go with National or with the party with the highest number of seats after the election...


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