BIG NEWS: 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Has NZ First made false declarations?

It's actually a pity that people will be judging Helen Clark based on Winston Peters' behaviour. Peters may have been stood down but he still gets to keep his ministerial house and other baubles, as well as his staff who can now spend more time assisting Winston campaigning to get back into Parliament after the election.

Which is exactly what Helen Clark wants Peters to do, because her only hope of getting into power is if Winston and his party are alongside her.

Peters' lawyer, Peter Williams, maintains that Peters will be cleared today by the SFO, as all the money has gone to NZ First, even if it was channeled to other trusts. I'm not so sure that will be the end of it. If the money has been channeled to NZ First through trusts, perhaps Peter Williams can tell us why it wasn't it declared? As DPF has said, if Williams is correct, NZ First has forwarded a false donation declaration for years on end.

And I believe Helen Clark is aware of this. She should tell us what she knows about that, too. But she'll no doubt tell us that it is NZ First issue, not an issue that Winston Peters was responsible for.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gone by news time

After refusing to say why he would refuse to stand down as a Minster, Winston Peters has stood down as a minster to avoid being sacked again -and so he can keep all his baubles except his workload - and has asked the PM to take over his portfolios. Helen Clark said, "Okay Winston, that's a good idea", and is now the acting ministers of Foreign Affairs, Racing and Associate Senior Citizens at Peter's request until the SFO has run its course.

Lets hope she doesn't take racing too seriously. The portfolio doesn't stretch to limousines - even stretch limousines. Now all Clark has to do is pass the ETS bill and call the election.

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Bloggers and journalists - do this test

Those who have recently sorrowed over the question of who a real journalist is (as opposed to one of these upstart bloggers), can now rest easy. David Cohen of the NBR has compiled a failsafe test. Incidentially, Cohen was the first journalist I ever discussed journalism with.

Okay, it is clearly difficult to reach a definitive answer of exactly what constitutes a journalist – but many factors could be taken into account. On their own each factor wouldn’t necessarily be a test or journo or non-journo, but together perhaps they make a journalist. Take the 5-minute test, scoring one point for every Yes response:
If you answered Yes:0-5 times – Get back into your pyjamas. Sorry, you ain’t enough of a journalist to be entrusted with sharpening the newsroom pencils.

6-10 times – You may be a legend among the 10 people who frequent your blog, but you’re not exactly major league.

11-15 times – Hmm, maybe you could be considered a mid-grade hack.

15-plus – Wow, you’re a pro!

According to Cohen, I`m a mid-grade hack. I got the same score as David Farrar - who did pretty well seeing he hasn't got a journalism qualification and as far as I am aware, doesn't know shorthand, and doesn't get paid for blogging. And the writers of The Standard, who wanted press credentials to get into the National Party conference, would not even be entrusted with sharpening the newsroom pencils. But I did note there was no question on HTML.


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Gone by....time

The word is that Winston Peters will be sacked today, once Helen Clark has had a talk to him this morning. Journalists have been asking why Helen Clark had not revealed that she knew about Glenn's $100,000 donation. She was asked again yesterday, and her reply was that no-one had asked her.

Except they had. The very day she found out
Bill English: Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether her coalition partner New Zealand First has advised her whether Owen Glenn is the mystery anonymous donor who placed nearly $100,000 in the New Zealand First bank account last year, and if not, does she intend to ask New Zealand First in order to find out whether a donation may have affected Winston Peters’ consideration of who to appoint as consul to Monaco?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I cannot advise that nor can I advise the House of any of the anonymous donors to the National Party.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

SFO to investigate Peters/International news media rapidly posting stories

The Serious Fraud Office is to investigate donations made to NZ First.
The story is now worldwide, International Herald Tribune, The Australian, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation(which describes Peters as a former Foreign Minister), Herald/Sun, Sydney Morning Herald, Khaleej Times, ABC.

Director of the Serious Fraud Office Grant Liddell said the focus of the investigation of " serious and complex fraud" will be donations made to the party by Sir Robert Jones and the Vela family which may not have reached their intended destinations.Earlier today Mr Peters challenged the Serious Fraud Office to "either lay charges or to shut up and go away."

So they decided they wouldn't shut up. Or go away.

Mr Peters responded that the investigation was "ridiculous in the extreme" and his party would meet it "head on".He said the SFO had not spoken to him yet and if they had the matter would be cleared up. He claimed the office was motivated by a past grudge against him for criticising it.

Could it be that Winston Peters may be stood down as early as tomorrow, and replaced by Phil Goff?

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Timeline: Helen Clark and the $100,000 donation

Here's a brief timeline which I may add to later.

February 20 Helen Clark said that donations, scholarships and his success as a businessman earned Glenn his New Year's Honour.

February 20: Dail Jones advises that NZ First had large anonymous donation - "probably close to $100,000 than $10,000" - and Winston Peters is furious the media knows about it Glenn has hinted that he gave a large donation. TVNZ reported that Glenn had made a substantial donation to NZ FIrst.

February 21 Helen Clark knew Glenn gave a donation to Winston Peters because Owen Glenn told her in the presence of Trevor Mallard when Glenn opened the Owen Glenn School of Business at Auckland University. He also told her that Peters had asked for the money. Peters subsequently denied this to the PM.

February 21 in Parliament
Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether her coalition partner New Zealand First has advised her whether Owen Glenn is the mystery anonymous donor who placed nearly $100,000 in the New Zealand First bank account last year, and if not, does she intend to ask New Zealand First in order to find out whether a donation may have affected Winston Peters’ consideration of who to appoint as consul to Monaco?Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I cannot advise that nor can I advise the House of any of the anonymous donors to the National Party,

February 25 (Newstalk ZB)
Presenter:Do you believe that Owen Glenn gave substantial money to New Zealand First to help them pay their electoral spending bill?
Clark: ‘Well, that—that’s a matter for New Zealand First to answer, isn’t it. It’s not a matter for me.

February 28 Winston Peters' "NO" media conference

June 20: Helen Clark refused to comment on the any donations, saying it was an internal matter for NZ First. (Thats because she know that the donation was given.)

July 14 Speculation about a Glenn donation revives after e-mails from the billionaire to a public relations firm emerge. They appear to confirm a donation had been made.
Helen Clark said the donation controversy is an internal matter for New Zealand First but said it did
not relate to Mr Peters' foreign affairs portfolio,
in which he conducted himself with integrity.

July 16 Helen Clark did not want to be drawn further on the matter of donations: "I'm not commenting on anything to do with funding New Zealand First may or may not have received.

July 18 Peters admits to Glenn donation

This exchange was on 22 July
John Key: Will the Prime Minister be giving Winston Peters her express permission, as required by paragraph 2.79 of the Cabinet Manual, to retain the $100,000 he received from Owen Glenn; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would need to take advice on what the issue is where a donation has been made anonymously, and then is later declared publicly because Mr Peters’ lawyer has advised him of the facts. I would note that the word of an honourable member is always accepted in this House. Further, Mr Peters’ lawyer, Mr Henry, has entirely backed what Mr Peters has said. Mr Henry, of course, has professional obligations to the Law Society

Apart from the fact that Clark knew that Peters knew about the donation.

Also that same day "In his position, I'd be embarrassed if that was what I was told after making clear denials ... I'm in the position that Mr Peters is an honourable member and I must accept his word, unless I have evidence to the contrary."

Which she did.

I have not known Mr Peters to lie to me, and I have to take people as I find them, she said, yesterday.

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I thought so: Labour did know about the $100,000

I have long suspected that Labour has known that Owen Glenn gave Winston Peters $100,000.

Yesterday I opined just that:
I wonder if Labour knew about the donation,as if they did they are protecting someone who knowingly lied, while publicly maintaining they have to take an honourable member at his word.
Today it was conformed that Labour has known that Owen Glenn gave Winston Peters $100,000 - because Owen Glenn told Helen Clark as much in February.
Helen Clark said today that billionaire Owen Glenn told her in February that he donated $100,000 to New Zealand First.
This is big news. And it was revealed just after NZ First committed to the ETS bill. Surprise, surprise.
The Prime Minister then put that information to the party's leader Winston Peters at the time and he gave her an assurance that the party had not received money from Mr Glenn.This new information this morning means Helen Clark has known for months of the conflicting sides of the story which were publicly revealed yesterday in letters to Parliament's privileges committee.
Clark says Peters' handling of the issue "obviously leaves a great deal to be desired".

So does her unethical handling of the issues. So she has to take Peters at his word. But not Benson-Pope. I wonder if the climate change bill will be given urgency. It has its second reading today.

What an utter disgraceful way for a Prime Minister to behave. At least we now know Winston Peters will now not be part of a National Government as he will be unable to give a credible explanation to back up his version of events.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yes, Winston Peters is a proven liar

Owen Glenn told the Privileges Committee that Mr Peters met him at the Karaka yearling sales ... in early 2006 and he thanked Glenn for his "assistance", meaning a substantial donation.

Yet Winston Peters said that was rubbish .He said he couldn't have met Glenn there as he wasn't there.

Winston Peters, the New Zealand Immigration Minister watches the sales on day two of the Karaka yearling sales on January 31, 2006, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Jeff Brass/Getty Images)

What a shame someone took his picture there, then. The camera doesn't lie.

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Clark won't sack Peters - yet, but John Key would have stood him down as Minister

I suggested in an earlier post that perhaps Helen Clark will wait for the report from the Privileges Committee before determining anything with regards to the conflicting statements between Owen Glenn and Peters. And that is exactly what Clark is doing. She said in the House this afternoon that she is indeed waiting on the Privileges Committee to report. But it is not up to the Privileges Committee to report on whether on not Winston Peters lied. That's for Clark to determine. The Privileges Committee determines matters of privilege.

It's a stalling tactic to get the ETS bill through.However given that NZ First has announced that it will support the ETS, Clark should suspend Peters.

Clark say that she will take Peters his word, at least until such time as she has compelling reason not to? Depends on how she defines compelling, I suppose. She should sack Peters.

In an interesting but overtimely development, John Key says Winston Peters would have been stood down if he was PM, and said he is not welcome in a National led Government unless he can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

Credible to John Key, that is, not Helen Clark.

Labour's response is that Key is slippery, but he's got more balls (and principles)than Helen Clark in more ways than one.

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Rimutaka electorate will be interesting

Ron Mark is standing for Rimutaka for NZ First this election. Young Chris Hipkins is the Labour candidate. Ron Mark could win this and if he does, Winston Peters will be in Parliament.

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Despite Winston Peters saying he did not know about a $100,000 donation to the Spencer Trust, Owen Glenn, in a letter to the privileges committee, says it was Winston Peters who asked him for that donation and later thanked him for it. I wonder if Helen Clark will take the honourabull member at his word now?
What Winston Peters said:
I have no knowledge of where and by whom any donation to New Zealand First was requested. I note Mr Glenn does not say I made it, or any donation was made, which is the substance of the New Zealand Herald 12 July allegation. Reported email in the New Zealand Herald, in fact contradicts his comment in his letter before you about donating to New Zealand First.

What Owen Glenn said:
The payment was made by me to assist funding the legal costs incurred personally by Rt Hon Winston Peters MP concerning his election petition dispute, at his request. Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney. I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party, in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.
The privileges committee is meeting again to consider the matter on Thursday, next week.

There is discrepancy as to over when Winston Peters thanked Glenn for the donation: Owen Glenn says:
Mr Peters subsequently met me socially at the Karaka yearling sales, I believe in early 2006. He thanked me for my assistance.
Winston Peters says:
In my evidence to the committee and in my press statement of 18 July I did not thank him until my lawyer advised me on 18 July 2008.

I wonder if Labour knew about the donation,as if they did they are protecting someone who knowingly lied, while publicly maintaining they have to take an honourable member at his word. Because for Labour, truth is irrelevant to politics. Lies are perfectly acceptable, provided the public doesn't have proof.Someone has lied and if Helen Clark is to take Peters at his word, she will have to hold that Owen Glenn lied. Problem is that the public won't agree with her and this could damage Labour. Perhaps Clark will wait for the report from the privileges committee before determining anything - it`ll certainly be politically convenient. That's because today is not about morals, laws, or what is right or wrong - its about politics.

Now, watch this, from the House in July

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disgraceful conduct from “Mugabe” Speaker

For the first time ever, the speaker of the House today stopped a member of Parliament asking a question to save the reputation of the person being asked the question.

I'm disgusted.The sooner Margaret Wilson is out of Parliament, the better. She tried to stop corruption allegations against a MP from being raised in Parliament. Is this case related to Labour's move to close the Serious Fraud Office?

This carry on has no place in a democracy. Maybe it was also a ploy to get NZ First to support the ETS tomorrow. So, what I've done is provided some of the transcript from Hansard .
Rodney Hide: Will the Prime Minister therefore assure the House that the Serious Fraud Office will be able to assess and investigate, unimpeded, the claims of corruption by a businessman, repeated on several occasions to Dominion Post reporter Phil Kitchin, that this businessman was one of several people to whom Peter Simunovich gave $9,999.95 in 2002, to pass on to New Zealand First in exchange for Winston Peters’ “shutting up about his allegations of wrongdoing against Simunovich Fisheries”, and that “Sure enough, within a couple of weeks Winston Peters did shut up.”, and that the man’s statement and details were provided last week to the Serious Fraud Office, and that the businessman himself was concerned for his personal safety?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You have just heard a very serious allegation from a member who, typically, failed to name anyone other than one company. But the critical person is the one he claims to be a businessman, whose life is under threat, apparently—unless it is from Rodney I cannot imagine from whom. But, I want to know, is that a fair question in this House?
Madam SPEAKER: Well, unfortunately, yes, from time to time allegations are made, and that question falls into that category that is permitted under the Standing Orders.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The relevant question to me was “Can such allegations be fully and independently investigated?”, and the answer is, of course, yes.
Madam SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Rodney Hide. Oh, point of order, the Rt Hon Winston—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I want to ask a supplementary question.
Rodney Hide: Well, you can take your turn.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is my turn....
Madam SPEAKER: Would you both sit down, otherwise you will both leave the Chamber and no one will be asking the question, which will solve the problem. Be seated. I called Rodney Hide before I saw the Rt Hon Winston Peters, so I will call Rodney Hide and then we will take the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ question.
Rodney Hide: Does the Prime Minister think it a good look for her Government to be abolishing the Serious Fraud Office just as it is assessing the complaint made by a former business associate of Peter Simunovich that her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, went to see Peter Simunovich to show him the evidence of corruption he had against Peter Simunovich and stated that through a payment of $50,000, “we would just slowly get rid of it”, or will she just keep accepting her Minister of Foreign Affairs’ word that he has done nothing wrong—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We are not going to truly have some sort of half-baked Serious Fraud Office inquiry inside this House conducted by “Rodney Hide QC”. The reality of it is that he has not presented one fact to make these serious allegations. They are deadly serious in my view, and they also concern the issue on which we turned over Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand (TVNZ) in December last year with one Phil Kitchin, who was working for them—those are the facts.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. The only breach of the Standing Orders is that questions are meant to be succinct, as are answers. If the member could please make his question succinct, then it would be much appreciated, being consistent with the Standing Orders.
Rodney Hide: It is very hard; he has been up to such a lot of naughtiness.
Madam SPEAKER: No, could the member please just ask the question.
Rodney Hide: Does the Prime Minister think it a good look to be abolishing the Serious Fraud Office just as it is assessing the complaint made by a former business associate of Peter Simunovich that her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, went to see Peter Simunovich to show him the evidence of corruption he had against Peter Simunovich and stated that through a payment of $50,000, “we would just slowly …”—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I demand that either the member gives me the evidence now or he apologises. What he is saying is baseless and, more important, it is the subject of a serious defamation case for which at the time, all the way through December last year, TVNZ and Radio New Zealand argued that they had never at any point sought to impugn my integrity. The member is now seeking to litigate a sub judice matter in the House.
Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please be seated. That is not a point of order. Would the member just complete his question, please.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The sub judice rule applies in this House. You know I have an action against TVNZ, Radio New Zealand, and others.
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry; would the member please be seated. No, I did not know that; I am sorry. I had not realised that. If matters are before the court, there are many precedents that they are not to be raised in this House. So would the member please just succinctly ask the point of his question, consistent with the Standing Orders.
Rodney Hide: I will pick up where I was interrupted—that through a payment of $50,000, “we would just slowly get rid of it”, or will she just keep accepting her Minister of Foreign Affairs’ word—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member may not know any Latin, but the sub judice rule does not allow him to raise the matter in this House. I am fighting this case in the court—and doing rather well at the moment—and with the greatest respect TVNZ, Radio New Zealand, and ACT are not going to win inside this House. They have to come to court with me, and I am very happy to join them.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker—
Rodney Hide: Can I finish my question now, Madam Speaker?
Madam SPEAKER: No.
Read the rest here

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Disgraceful discrimination at the EPMU

Shawn Tan, who works for the EPMU, decided to stand as an ACT candidate and is 10th on the party list. He has been suspended because he didn’t apply for permission to stand.

At least that’s the reason given. His employer told him that if he was going to stand for ACT he should resign, implying that if he asked for permission, it would not be granted. It’s a shame he did not get that in writing because Andrew Little has admitted on Newstalk ZB that Mr Tan's political party of choice is a factor.
Somebody who wants to seek public office for a party whose philosophies and policies and interests are directly contrary to the interests of the union's members would obviously be foolish to say that that would not have a bearing on any application for approval.
Political opinion is a prohibited ground of discrimination, so even if Tan had tossed up whether to ask permission, he was unlawfully discriminated against even before he made the decision not to seek official permission.


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Greens should vote no on ETS

Well, I haven’t been following the ETS (bill here) as much as I’d like, but thanks to a very succinct report from Paula Oliver I know enough to call the Greens to vote no on Tuesday if it really wants to be in Parliament after the election. Greens may want to support imperfect policy now rather than worse ones under National, but if it was a principled party it would vote with its convictions instead of aslking the voters what they think. Chris Trotter quotes Edmund Burke:
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
They didn't ask the opinion of voters when they voted on the anti-smacking legislation, did they.
Jeannette Fitzsimons says
What really mattered about this scheme was that is was fair to New Zealanders and effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Throughout the negotiation process we have kept this at the forefront of our minds. If we don’t get these things right, the huge wealth transfers that the ETS creates will be both unfair and ineffectual.
And if that’s the case, don’t vote for it, then. There are many more options than just waiting for National to pass its own scheme, and if the Greens are not in Parliament it will not be able to influence it or further its own policies.

National’s climate change policy is outlined here.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

The NZ Herald needs to write the facts on MMP

Today's Herald editorial discusses the diversity on National's list and tries to provide some educated comment on MMP. It did a pretty woeful job as it is riddled with errors. Such as:

* MMP's list system was supposed to improve the representation of women, Maori and immigrants but has not really done so.

* Women's numbers in Parliament have risen largely thanks to Labour Party selection policies that were in train before MMP and would have continued without it.

* Maori numbers have risen partly on Labour's list selections and partly on enrolment for Maori electorates, which are not a product of MMP.

Let's start with the Maori MPs. The number of Maori MP's are certainly a product of MMP as had we not had proportional representation we would not have had the Maori Electoral Option. This option, held every five years tags the number of Maori seats to the Maori electorate, wheras before MMP there were only four seats. So MMP was the catalyst that increased the number of Maori seats. And given that the list system has increased the number of Maori MPs to 21, it has certainly improved the representation of Maori.

In terms of women in Parliament, more than half the women ever elected to parliament since the 1890s were elected since 1996, when we adopted MMP- and many were off the list, such as as the Green MPs, Judy Turner, Maryan Street, Barbara Stewart, Alemain Kopu, Heather Roy, Donna Awatere-Huata and Margaret Wilson to name just a few. Yet the Herald has said MMP has not increased participation of women. Yet how else would MPs such as Margaret Wilson and Maryan Street have got into Parliament? Weren't they list only candidates like the hapless Georgina Beyer in her last term?

I could continue expanding on the errors but No Right Turn has done it for me.

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Court bans media in smacking case because politicians ban smacking

Media access has been blocked for all evidence at the depositions hearing of child assault charges against a Christchurch professional musician, James Louis Mason, who has been committed for trial.

Mason, 49, has been charged with assaulting his two sons aged two and four. He claimed that he merely "flicked his sons' ears". The case is attracting media attention because it may be a test of the anti-smacking laws.

If he's convicted they'll be calling it masons law - and Family First will no doubt do some "we told you so" media releases, calling for National to honour its promise to change the smacking laws, as it said it would do should there be a conviction under that law.

And I know what National's response will be.


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Thursday, August 21, 2008

He (who is actually a she) may be too young to be a gold medal Olympian

Just nine months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government’s news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin, who was in the Chinese team that won a gold medal this week, was 13, which would have made her ineligible to be in the team. The evidence is apparently, here .You have to be 16 in the year that the Olympics is held. A March 2008 story in the China Daily listed her as 14. The story has gone now, but here's the cache

Chinese authorities, backed up with a passport, responded to officials. He is 16, yes, she is.

A May 23 story in the China Daily newspaper, the official English-language paper of the Chinese government, said He was 14. The story was later corrected to list her as 16. Last week The Associated Press found the Xinhua report on the site Thursday morning and saved a copy of the page. Later that afternoon, the Web site was still working but the page was no longer accessible. Sports editors at the state-run news agency would not comment for publication.
Update...Two days later.. The Herald has found out about the story


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SST editor resigns

Sunday Star Times editor Cate Brett has resigned to take up a job at the Law Commission.

The Fairfax statement is here. She now won't have to worry about falling circulation.

Oh, and ACT MP Heather Roy has a blog - called Royters. Very creative.

Update Chris Trotter is also blogging
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Council cocks up on boobs on bikes and makes a dick of itself

As I predicted the Auckland City Council has failed to stop the Boobs on Bikes parade. The Court tried to get a court injunction based on morals because its bylaw was toothless – but forgot that injunctions are based on law and the law states that topless women are not indecent - even in public.

There could have been no other decision. That is because it is the role of parliament to change the law, not the courts. Injunctions, as far as I am aware, don’t set a court precedent.

So Boobs on Bikes is going ahead. No permit is needed, never was. I'm sure the Council is going to hope tomorrow is a freezing cold, wet, windy day and the bikes get punctures.

If It is cold they could always cover up and go in cars, I suppose, but bras in cars just won't have the same appeal.


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Maori Party needs to be in Government after the election

Some time ago I mentioned that the party next in power will be the party that has the most friends. Problem is that all National's friends are losing support and instead of supporting those friends they are supporting National. Labour's friends deserted them long ago. The Greens tried to Make friends with the Maori Party but that didn't work.

Current polling will indicate that National doesn't need friends, but I have always maintained that its best friend should be the Maori Party. I've been consistently saying it for at least 15 months. Now Richard Long is singing the same tune.
It's the choice of partner that is going to cause surprise in many quarters.Wise heads in National have recognised that it has to be the Maori Party: nothing else is viable long term. Forget United Future's Peter Dunne. He will be back with one seat only.Forget ACT. Rodney Hide may have another benchmate after the election, but not much more. Their caucuses could be held, as they say, in a phone box.Forget the Greens. Their policies and constituency would make a deal with National too difficult. That leaves NZ First, if Winston Peters can get his party over the 5 per cent threshold, or the Maori Party. And as unlikely as it seems from the outside, a Maori Party- National accommodation is achievable.
National will be silly not to go into coalition with the Maori Party, or view them as the senior minor party, even if the other minor parties lift their vote.

But imagine Derek Fox as broadcasting minister!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Police were trawling over Veitch

As expected, police have arrested Tony Veitch and charged him with assault. As they should. But there are seven charges ranging from 2002-2006.

The only reason that he has been charged with multiple counts is because police were trawling for trouble because the guy was a household name.


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

National jumping at ghosts in the machine on welfare

John Armstrong, in commenting on Labours criticism of Nationals welfare policy, considers Labour is " jumping at ghosts in the mirror" . Equally it could be claimed that National is jumping at ghosts in the machine. The machine of Work and Income.

Much has been made of "personal plans produced by beneficiaries" that detail how they intend getting back into the workforce.I've seen a few of these plans. These plans are not personal plans at all - more about what beneficiaries should be doing anyway - get a CV, attend a job interview in the next six months and turn up to their next appointment. Those on the DPB are required have a PDEP - a personal development and employment plan - on their files, whereas those on other benefits who are assessed as being able to work are to have a JSA - Job Seekers Agreement. If they don't stick to these plans they get work tested - meaning that if they don't do anything about the work test they get their benefit automatically suspended. If they dont do anything once it is suspended it gets automatically cancelled.

Problem is that hardly anyone gets worktested. If beneficiaries miss an appointment as detailed on a JSA, another letter simply goes out requesting they return at another appointment date. And if they havent fulfilled their JSA requirements once they turn up to the appointment, another one is simply reprinted with a different reporting date.

But you need to be aware that the beneficiaries do not write these plans, the case managers do. And they write them based on a template with minor adjustments as a compliance issue. The plans are for no longer than a six month period and have to be renewed once they expire. They are not often renewed until months after they expire. They are not negotiated with the beneficiary, but the beneficiary has to sign them so a signature can be on the file. It is a bit similar to the ACC Independent Rehabilitation Plan. They are punitive, bureaucratic, time wasting, and legally worthless.

Under National, the PDEP's will have a work component for all whose youngest child is six or over, and those DPB beneficiaries will be registered in WINZ's SOLO system that refers beneficiaries to work-related training and vacancies. That is the only difference to the current situation. So as Labour is already doing much of National's policy, Ruth Dyson can hardly criticise National's policy towards other beneficiaries.

These plans are also disregarded by everyone at WINZ who looks for jobs for beneficiaries - who are mainly work brokers.National wants a greater job focus on these worthless plans. That is why its policy will not make a scrap of difference to the rate of those on the benefit who get full time WINZ-assisted jobs. Its simply politics, when fresh policy is needed.

Sometime, I`ll outline why there is no essentially no difference in Labour and National's policies on getting beneficiaries into job training or providing incentives to work.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps gets sixth gold and sixth world record

Super swimmer Michael Phelps is not on the medals table as he is not a country. But after a week, Phelps would have been sixth on the medals table, ahead of Australia, Japan, Russia, and Britain if he was a country. He's slipping, he was fifth on Wednesday. But if the table was ranked based on golds that are world records, he'd be third, behind the US.


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Unemployable Georgina Beyer to move to Aussie cause former mates won't give her a job

Georgina Beyer is annoyed that Labour has not appointed her to any boards since she resigned from parliament. She is annoyed as she is on the dole.
"I have all this accumulated knowledge and experience and no one wants to employ it, and I'm not sure why," she said."That I'm of no further use to my country is why I'm considering Australia, that my former parliamentary colleagues seem not to want to appoint me to anything, but are quite happy to accommodate others who have left or are about to, so as to shut them up from whingeing from the sidelines in election year.
"One could be forgiven for being a little vexed
I hear sex work pays well in Australia, Beyer has accumulated loads of knowledge and experience in that field.


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Court injunction won't stop boobs on bikes parade

The media coverage of the Boobs on Bikes parade due to occur on Wednesday in Queen Street will ensure that this parade is the biggest yet.

Family First's Bob McCoskrie is complaining that topless women parading down Queen Street is offensive and indecent.

He may think so, but the law doesn't consider topless women indecent, and Steve Crow is well aware of this.

Crow also knows that a bylaw passed by the Council intending to stop indecent behaviour won't stop him either. The new bylaw declares the council can turn down a permit for an event if it "there is any other objectively justifiable and reasonable grounds for declining consent for example that the event will be or is likely to be offensive". It's a daft bylaw as it is based on morals, and both the police and the council are powerless to enforce such a bylaw on Boobs on Bikes as legally it is not offensive behaviour.

In fact the 40,000 people who saw the parade last year didn't find it offensive, especially the school boys who took time off school to attend.

So when the Council realised that its own bylaw had no teeth, it decided to seek a court injunction to stop the parade.

But Crow has announced that he will merely make the parade a protest. So Auckland City Councillor Cathy Casey has threatened to lie across Queen St with friends to stop the parade.

But that action would be illegal, whereas the parade, as a protest, will be lawful, provided it is conducted in an orderly fashion.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Family First wrong on smacking prosecutions

Bob McCoskrie from Family First has been issuing multiple media releases claiming - and hoping - that police have been prosecuting parents for light smacking. He claims there have been eight prosecutions in the past six months for smacking, with the implication that these eight were heading down the road to a conviction for smacking.

So why hasn't the MSM reported on it? McCoskrie's wrong and has misinterpreted the response to his own OIA, that's why. Shame, really as on the whole he does a pretty good job.

The OIA response is as follows: one, two, three, four, five, six.

Much of the relevant information has been publicly available for a month, and I blogged on it here. Police have divided corrective discipline into "smacking" and "minor forms of physical violence", the latter rate having gone up every quarter, but although cases have been investigated, the "eight prosecutions" were not smacking cases as they either had no inconsequential or corrective discipline component - they were upgraded to assault. The facts are as follows:

1. All 13 child smacking cases reported to police resulted in no further action because they are acceptable smacks and should never have been investigated to start with.So McCoskrie has a point here.
2. Of the "light acts of physical discipline" cases that were were followed up by the police, eight warranted further action and are the ones that McCoskrie is claiming are "smacking cases. All eight were upgraded to assault before they were prosecuted. None have yet been convicted, one got diversion and one got the charges withdrawn. The other six are awaiting their fate. None would have been prosecuted had the charge been upgraded to assault but McCoskrie didn't tell you that, and neither did Whale Oil who posted this from the OIA.

So, eight were charged with assault - assault of a kind that is not inconsequential and would no doubt have failed a Section 59 defence. Three were not convicted and five are awaiting the outcome of their cases. They were not smacking prosecutions because they were not assaults with a corrective action component and McCoskrie is creating a fallacy in repeatedly claiming that these are smacking cases that would have succeeded a defence of reasonable force - a defence of an action that must have a corrective component and be reasonable in the circumstances.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

National's welfare policy is work for the dole in drag

National released its welfare policy today.

Although there's a focus on work, its not work for the dole, because too many of those on the dole are now on sickness and invalids benefits. But beneficiaries must work or be sanctioned. Those on the DPB will have to enter work or training for 15 hours once their youngest child reaches six. Most care for children under six and the best way to avoid this is to have more kids.

About 5,600 sickness and invalid beneficiaries have been categorized as capable of working, and John Key says even Invalids beneficiaries will be required work for at least 15 hours per week in employment, training, or job-seeking activities. Like telemarketing and pushing trolleys at supermarkets, thus keeping wages where they are.

Yet, the MSD guidelines state that to qualify for an Invalid’s Benefit you must be 16 or over and unable to regularly work 15 hours or more a week, unless you are blind. Those on sickness benefits will have to get a doctor's medical certificate every four weeks instead of the current 13 weeks. Doctors will be very happy with the extra income.

National will require those who have been on the dole for more than a year - about a third of the register - to re-apply for their benefit and undergo a comprehensive work assessment. It is not clear those who have transferred to the sickness benefit after being on the dole for a year also need to reapply. It appears they don't, which will increase the numbers on the sickness benefit as many transfer to other benefits to avoid reapplying.

Those who are working will get the first $100 before their benefit is abated by 70% for each dollar earned, which is really equivalent to a CPI adjustment and should have already been done. They should make the threshold at least $140 to align it with the increase in the minimum wage.

John Key has said paid work is the route to independence. What he didn't say was that it didn't matter if that paid work was undertaken while on a benefit.

It does matter, but National's policy does not reflect that, because there's little that enables beneficiaries to get full time jobs.

This only leads one to conclude that National doesn't care if people are on benefits as long as they are working.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Why National prefers a supplementary member voting system

Should there be a binding referendum on MMP, and a subsequent decision is made to choose an electoral system, there should be some prior discussion on these electoral systems. National prefers the proportional-lite Supplementary Member (SM) system because it dilutes the representative power of the left as it will reduce its proportion of seats in the House, in part to those parties who hover just under the 5 percent threshold but get no seats.

Currently we have 52 list seats. Based on 50 list seats, if the the Greens got six percent, and no electorate seats they'd get just three seats under SM. If the list seats were reduced to 12 percent of all seats, they'd be out of Parliament under SM..

So what is SM? Here's a brief post on the four electoral systems I believe we'll be choosing from should the initial referendum be successful.

Most people are aware on how First Past the Post (FPP) works. Selected candidates who gets the highest votes in each electorate are elected and the party in power is the party with the most elected candidates. Similarly most are aware that the party vote determines the number of seats in a Mixed Member Proportional ( MMP) system, with elected candidates dropping off the list.

Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a preferential voting system designed to minimise wasted votes and provide proportional representation based on electorate seats, as voters are choosing between candidates, not parties. Candidates are ranked, and votes are transferred to minimise waste. This system reduces the role of political parties as candidates of one party can be elected on transfers from voters for candidates in other parties.

The National-supported SM system, compared with MMP, switches the voting power between list and electoral seats as electoral seats make up the bulk of Parliament and the remainder are proportionatly filled from the party list vote. It's FPP with a proportional representation tag-on. You still have two votes but the electoral vote is the key vote. It gives more power to the larger parties than STV or MMP but not as much as FPP. It also means that MPs are less likely to return back on the list if they are voted out at an election.

Under SM, the key issue for small parties is what proportion of the seats are to be declared list seats. The reason National likes this system is that smaller parties have a substantially smaller proportion of their share of the vote and don't need to be relied on as much as within MMP to form a government.

If we changed to SM, two parties will benefit: National and Labour -with National benefiting more than Labour. (Update and most minor parties that hover under the 5% threshold - the Christian Coalition with 4.6% would have got into Parliament in1996 under SM). However the Maori Party could get an extra seat if more realise that both their list and electorate vote will count. In achieving this it could reduce Labour's list vote.It also means that those who are not on the Maori roll and want to list vote the Maori Party will not have their vote wasted.

It will also substantially reduce the number of seats of any party that gets into party with a list vote just over the five percent threshold and no seats like NZ First and the Greens currently have - and that's the real reason why National prefers SM.

So in summary, with FPP, seats are based on the elected constituents, with STV it is the constituent vote plus the transfers. With MMP proportionality is confined to the list and with SM proportionality is confined only to list seats above the number of coinsituent seats.

Which system do you prefer?

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Man, 84, with 86 wives urges other not to follow his example

Nigerian Mohammed Bello has advised other men not to follow his example and marry 86 women.The former teacher and Muslim preacher has at least 170 children and says he is able to cope only with the help of God.

Most of his wives are less than a quarter of his age - and many are younger than some of his own children.
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Today is world's indigenous people day

Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous People (IDWIP), and it is a timely reminder that New Zealand is one of four countries that voted against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. In fact the Government tried to derail it with its proposal to substantially alter the text so that it would have given indigenous peoples fewer rights than others.

One of the reasons why we failed to agree was that the Declaration implied that indigenous peoples had rights that others did not have.

They already do - they can enrol on the Maori roll, for a start.

The Declaration provides a minimum standard for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, and was explained by its supporters as intending to inspire, rather than to have legal effect. New Zealand did not, however, accept that a State could responsibly take such a stance towards a document that it knew it couldn't implement. But this is a declaration, not a treaty or legislation. New Zealand has passed laws as well as UN Conventions that it has not implemented. Why is this declaration so special that it had to be ignored?

Because clearly, we have been breaching ratified UN treaties for years. For example, the UN just last year noted that New Zealand is diminishing the importance and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi and to create a context unfavourable to the rights of Maori under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination

And our Government was not impressed at all with the report of the UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous issues, Rudolfo Stavenhagen, after he visited last year to investigate the treaty settlements process, the Foreshore and Seabed Act and policies designed to reduce social inequalities.The report is the product of the most important international human rights institution there is, but our Government thumbed its nose at it and has decided that it does not want to give a message that it is a Government that cares for rights of indigenous people.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

ACC's $250 gift to staff

I'm not sure what the fuss is over the ACC's $250 Activa cards each staff member gets. Apparently there are guidelines set by Southern Cross Healthcare as to what they are used for, despite claims that they are used for botox and manicures.

National thinks they are a waste of money - yet it works out about 68c per day per employee, which is the equivalent of the time it takes to go down the lift and light your cigarette for smoko break.

Other employers I have worked for provide free eye tests once a year and $200 towards healthcare costs. When I worked for a certain university newspaper, such benefits were paid for by students.

Of course such "perks" reduce absenteeism. And if you are off work just 10 hours or so fewer due to these benefits, costs are covered.


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Friday, August 08, 2008

the F word at WINZ

I'm not so fussed that Sue Bradford used the F word in Parliament to draw attention to conflict at Work and Income as much as I am that the word was actually whispered by a case manager to a beneficiary who was refused a food grant.

But at Work and Income the F word is common as it is among MPs usage of it outside the House.In some cases people resort to violence. I understand that happens amongst MPs too. Just ask Trevor Mallard.

When I worked at a WINZ office my manager occasionally swore at me - as opposed to swearing to me, which he did often - using the F word, and he even assaulted another staff member outside the offices, for which he was reprimanded for.

Beneficiaries swore at me - I was even accused of swearing at a staff member when I didn't. I even called the cops at once stage when a beneficiary threatened me and would not leave when he was instructed to. He used the F word several times in every sentence every time he entered a WINZ office, and I just simply got used to it.

When he did eventually leave it is a wonder he didn't smash the door on the way out given the force that he used on it.

I think he eventually got trespassed. This is what Case Managers have to put up with quite regularly. Why do you think the Government has put security guards at each WINZ office throughout the country?.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

site news

Just to advise that the revamped sidebar has more than 60 links to news sites around the world, should you be a news junkie. It also has some sites on democracy and political links. More to come.
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More Labour toadies get jobs

Former Race Relations Commissioner Gregory Fortuin has been favoured with numerous appointments by the Clark Government, the most recent being the board of ACC. But the the Clark government wanted him gone from the board so he could be replaced by one of the many lickspittles who had forwarded their CV for such appointments. But Fortuin didn't want to leave, particularly as he is the only ACC director with any insurance experience,and besides he was well known, he's a celebrity speaker, you see, and was disappointed that there was no other appointment on offer.

So officials had a quick look at his CV - well, perhaps they didn't - and decided he could be be a Commissioner in the Families Commission for three years.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Silencing political speech

I see the media and bloggers have finally got hold of the news that National is appealing the Electoral Commission's decision to register the EPMU. The Herald states that the EPMU was to be registered yesterday.

Good to see the Standard blog has wide coverage of the decision.

No Right Turn sees this whole thing as an indication that those with money and lawyers can effectively silence political speech, no matter what the law says. He says that is unacceptable in a democracy and I agree. But he gives no reason why he pretty much supported a law that let this happen.

The Electoral Finance Act is the real source of democratic unacceptablility, and its good that National is to repeal the Act.It's pretty hard to see how the EFA can be interpreted through the Bill of Rights Act when nobody seems to know how it actually complies with the BORA. I hope the case drags on and on to teach Labour and its cronies a lesson.

All four parties which supported the Electoral Finance Act have been found to have breached it, and three of them are being investigated by police.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Challenge to EPMU decision to register as Third Party

I have been advised that National is challenging the decision that the EPMU can register as a third party under the Electoral Finance Act. Again. It was supposed to have been listed today.

The Electoral Commission had decided to register the EPMU as a third party back in January, but was overturned by the High Court. Last week the Commission announced again that it would grant registration as it determined that the EPMU is not involved in the affairs of Labour.

Court papers challenging the decision were filed today.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Abortion Supervisory Committee to appeal abortion decision

The Abortion Supervisory Committee is to appeal the Judicial Review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee that found that the abortion laws were used more liberally than Parliament intended and that there was reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions.

Right to Life is to cross appeal and present a case for the legal recognition of the status of the unborn child as a human being and a person endowed by its Creator with human rights.

My view is that both should be thrown out -and the latter is worded in such a way that it can't be upheld. How can an unborn child be a human - even if it is a living being before birth?

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NZ First's $158,000

Just wondering whether the $158,000 went to the Spencer Trust. Perhaps divvied up in nine different amounts. I've seen no reports on whether it has or it hasn't and no journalist appears to have asked. Because the trust is a charity for Winston, isn't it?


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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Blogger woes

As you all know the blog is hosted on Blogger, which is owned by Google. But lots of other blogs are hosted on Blogger and about 5 percent of them are splogs - or spam blogs.

The "splogosphere" generates crap content and splogs stuff themselves with links. The growth of spam blogs has accelerated in recent months, fueled by automated tools that can create blogs on Blogspot and some similar services and populate them with keyword-optimized posts and Google AdSense advertisements.

A new blog is created every second. But every 50 seconds a splog is created. But that was in 2005. Not much has changed. In the past few years Google has been trying to get rid of them but has been deleting and disabling legitimate blogs. Some blogs are moving to Wordpress after being locked out by Blogger, only to have blogging rights restored. As the International Herald Tribune puts it, it's the "guilty until proven innocent" policy.

I've put this link here as a reference in case I have to transfer to wordpress..

One victim of all this is Idiot Savant at No Right Turn, who emailed me today advising that his account was disabled because Google's automation service has identified his blog as a splog. If in the unlikelihood that he has been linking to or quoting from sites associated with,that may explain something, as the same thing happened to lots of them. Here's hoping he gets back up soon, rather than being listed here.

Update He's back up. More here

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Winston Peters has another target

Therese Arse-neau is about to get a virutal boot up the arse from Winston Peters. This from the country's most improved newspaper .
What really concerns me about Winston Peters' behaviour in the last week is that it is mudslinging that I think really does turn the public off."

She was concerned that some people might be so disillusioned they would not bother to vote. Dr Arseaneau said Mr Peters was trying to get 5 percent of the vote so his party could survive.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said after a meeting with Mr Peters on Tuesday she accepted his assurances no laws had been broken and on Wednesday said she retained confidence in him.

Dr Arseneau said there were important questions to be answered.

"I think when you get down to the very basics of representative democracy, ....this is absolutely vital."

The focus appeared to be on legality.

"I actually think the key issue here is the ethics of what he's done and in terms of ethics he clearly does have a responsibility to answer some questions".
And in terms of ethics the PM has an equal responsibility to ask those questions and relay those answers to the pubic.

And isn't Arseneau an awful name to spell. The NZPA thought so.


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The Winston saga should not lead to calls for a review of MMP. Other things may, though

I get a bit tired of all these rabblerousers who, when there's a problem with honesty, commitment and integrity in Parliament such as the current saga over Winston Peters, or the defection of Gordon Copeland from UnitedFuture but remaining in Parliament, are quick to point the finger at MMP and call for a referendum on our electoral system.

Chapman Tripp partner Andy Nicholls is not one of them. However Nicholls indicates that the Peters' saga shows that it is time for a review of MMP. I disagree. Nicholls, himself states that MMP creates hostage situations.

That's rubbish. Perhaps rules within MMP could potentially lead to such situations. But current problems with Peters, and Helen Clark's inept response is not because of an electoral system, its more because Members of Parliament put their own power tripping interests before honesty and integrity, thus creating their own problems.

MMP, like any electoral system and the MPs within it , is not perfect. Critics point to things such as the five percent thresshold, the Maori Party hangover, Copeland's UNited Future defection, Green Party list leapfrogging to get Russel Norman in Parliament and MPs like Rick Barker being voted out and making it back in on party lists - and even to Cabinet.They even point to the Maori seats, but don't discuss the Maori Electoral option which potentially increases the seat numbers. state that the numbers of them Maori seats could also be amended under an MMP system which can also be amended

All of which can be removed under an MMP system and all of which have nothing to do with Winston Peters' behaviour - except MMP is the reason that he is in Parliament. Yet if we had an MMP system where a party had to get at least one electorate seat to qualify for list seats, we would have had MMP without Winston Peters - or the Greens for that matter.

Calling for a referendum on the electoral system is cop out, retaining it with amendments to the threshold and qualifications for list seats is preferable. But even if Winston Peters was elected to Parliament under a MMP system whereby a party has to get one electorate seat to qualify for list seats, the current problems would remain.

So don't blame Winston Peters' nutcase antics on the electoral system, because his antics don't even indicate that it is time for a review of our electoral system, less so a referendum. There are other factors that come to play which are more relevant.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Don't ask, don't tell

"Truth Seeker" left a comment on the blog today regarding my previous post on the chances of Labour winning the election.
Being proudly unknowing appears to be the defining feature of far too many Kiwis these days. They will never agree, of course, because they don't know what they don't know....and don't want to know

I think that sums up Helen Clark pretty well with regard to the Spencer Trust, the trust that funds Winston Peter's legal bills and more. Peters promised to provide details of the trust.

He won't tell despite promising to. She won't ask, saying she has to take "the honourable member at his word"

As Peters promised to tell, Clark should take his word, given she maintains she has to.
Or as today's Herald editorial says:
If Helen Clark does not want to inquire into her governing partner's financial arrangements it can only suggest she has no confidence that she might hear an explanation she could defend in public.
This is the time when Helen Clark should be a truth seeker, but unfortunately, to her, power is more important than truth and more important than running the country.

Update Rodney Hide has lodged complaint about Winston Peters with The Serious Fraud Office. Because it is serious fraud the PM is ignoring and the privileges committee is gutless.


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