BIG NEWS: 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ringing the Prime Ministers office

I rang the Prime Minister's office today to ask some information. The person I wanted to speak with was unavailable. Given that, I was then asked if I would like to speak to Labour's research unit...


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Labour's job search allowance is discriminatory

Helen Clark said Labour’s job search allowance for redundant and laid off workers is fair, applied to everyone and was simple to administer.

First, some important points based on what the PM said yesterday. The important point to make is that all - without exception - will get this allowance if they have been working for five years and are made redundant or are laid off due to an economic downturn – and cant get the unemployment benefit due to partners income.

The second point is that the allowance is equal to the unemployment benefit. The third point is that a partners income is not means tested against the allowance. Once redundant, you`d be entitled to the job seekers allowance for up to 13 weeks, and your partner can keep his or her income.

But the student allowance is also classed as income.

The Herald today said only “working couples” would get this allowance. That’s slightly incorrect as the Ministry told me today that student partners would be able to keep their allowance and other income like everyone else.

Say the partner was a student earning $150.00 a week. Normally, they'd be entitled to student allowance at the married rate if no one earned. Clark said her announcement will extend to ALL who are redundant or lose their job (and couldn’t claim the dole due to partner’s income) after five years in the workforce. The student applies for the allowance timed for the day her partner becomes redundant. She now has income. He doesn't so applies for the allowance, which is not means tested. The newly unemployed partner would effectively be paid twice by the state if he was to collect the job search allowance – and the Minister’s office says that is fine - earning partners don't lose any income, why should student families?

The only other option is that they keep the full student allowance To get an extra $150.00, the partner will have to go back to work to earn it.

update The Ministry has rung back. They made a mistake. You can't get both – as I suspected. So the job search allowance will discriminate against the source of income – student income - similar to the way the In Work Payment discriminates against employment status. It doesn’t apply to everyone, without exception, at all. And if the newly redundant partner was working 25 hours a week and the partner 10 hours, they'd lose the In Work Payment as well, whereas a good deal of families entitled to the job search allowance will keep it.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Labour's job search allowance

Helen Clark said Labours job search allowance for redundant and laid off workers is fair, applied to everyone and was simple to administer. It either won't be fair, it will be hard to administer, or it will not apply to everyone. It can't be all three.

So I don't believe her. I`ve looked into it. It is going to be interesting to administer as some people may be paid twice by the state if the policy applies to all laid off and redundant workers who have worked for five years. Tomorrow I`ll post the details of how it can happen.


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Labour breached the Electoral Finance Act again, today

Thousands get e-mails with a link to the "two Johns" video

Labour breached the Electoral Finance Act again today by sending unsolicited emails to many thousands of in boxes this evening. The email had a link to a Labour Party website which has the "two Johns" advertisement that was censured by the Advertising Standards Authority and removed from YouTube.

The e-mail, which had a false residential address of Mike Smith as its authorisation statement, was sent through the Smile City database.This database is a a rewards loyalty programme where subscribers give SmileCity express permission to send email offers, for which reward points can be earned. Its privacy policy says that information provided is only used by SmileCity to send appropriate reward mail and surveys.

But if you click on the designated button after you've read the Clark letter, you earn five points. You also end up at the Labour08 website that is also authorised by Mike Smith - except he now lives somewhere else. There are other links to the Labour site as well including this one which has the "two johns" video.

So not only has Labour encouraged Smile City to arrange letters asking subscribers to vote Labour and visit its website, its breached its own Electoral Finance Act as well due to the advertisement's false residential address. It is also arguable that the e-mail was not appropriate reward mail, and if that's so it is unsolicited, despite the ability to earn points, and Labour has encouraged SmileCity to breach its own privacy provisions as well.

I have a copy of the email and can send it to anyone on request.


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Announcing off the cuff

Helen Clark has announced that Labour will remove restrictions on the unemployment benefit as part of a $50 million transitional assistance package for those who lose their jobs as a result of the faltering global economy. This comes after another multimillion dollar announcement of new spending from a government that is not announcing new spending.

Someone needs to tell the staff at the Ministers office. They know less than I do on this announcement.But Helen Clark said the package was fair, applied to everyone and was simple to administer.

How can a package be deemed fair when it is obvious no one has given any thought to it? It's not a package, some would say it is a policy.But it's not, as nothing has been formulated. Perhaps it is a plan? But nobody knows what that plan is. No planning has been done. So it can't be a plan. So it must be an announcement. But nobody in the Ministers office knew she was going to announce it.

So what is the announcement based on? Something Helen Clark dreamed up over lunch?
Its not applicable to everyone as Helen Clark said. Will the next development be that to be eligible, recipients will have to be in the workforce continually for five years, or in the same job for five years?


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Bloggers encourage Maori Party to amend bill on the Maori seats

There has been a bit of discussion on the Maori seats, particularly with the Maori Party policy of entrenchment of the seats, contrasting with Helen Clark supporting entrenchment of the Maori electoral option. Today the Herald reported that a pledge to entrench the option would prove crucial in assisting Labour with post- election negotiations with the Maori Party.

The paper is incorrect. The Maori Party want to entrench the seats, not the option, and Clark's comments are irrelevant to the Maori Party position.

Yesterday I did a post on the Maori Party Bill to entrench the seats linking a similar post from No Right Turn, who had also seen the bill. The post was sent to and read by all Maori Party MPs yesterday - not sent by me - and as a result, I was told by the Party today that directly as a result of the suggestions and comment in this blog, the bill is to be amended to embrace our suggestions that parts of the Maori Electoral Option should be entrenched with the seats.

Although it makes for a better bill, it still needs 75% to pass. That's the big hurdle. Oh, and well done Legal Beagle for getting the ball rolling.

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When the dirt doesn't stick

Labour has just lost the election. It has been been promising for a long time that they would produce evidence of dodgy dealings or behaviour of John Key - in his distant past. It was to be the only hope of winning the election. Labour Research Unit smear project manager Mike Williams, along with his research unit went on a tax-payer funded smear campaign trying to dig up the dirt against John Key.

Williams even went to Australia to see what he could find. Allegations centre around the so-called H-Fee - two payments totalling A$66.5 million ($75m) to Equiticorp funnelled via sham foreign exchange transactions in 1988. John Key was, apparently, the head of Elders Forex when massive illegal transactions were being conducted by that business group and Williams was to get a document that had Key's signature proving that Key signed off the dodginess. He found the document, alright, and the boys at The Standard were very excited. They even got someone in the Labour Research unit to do a guest post on the blog. This morning, when I asked the manager of the research unit about the unit's involvement with The Standard, she paused, refused to comment, did not deny the units involvement in the blog when repeatedly questioned and then slammed down the phone on me.

The final sentence in the post was:
Tomorrow: The date of the H-Fee and how the biggest white collar crime of the last century worked.
The Standard was also excited that today's Herald was to have a damaging story.

But how the crime worked and Key's role in it was not forthcoming. The post was pulled - here's the cache.

It was pulled as the dirt looked like dirt but wasn't dirt at all. How embarrassing. The document didn't have Keys signature . Mike Williams is so disappointed that he's not even answering his phone today. Hes too busy trying to find something for the Labour Research Unit to do. He has his tail between his legs. Its a dog of a smear. Labour campaign strategist Pete Hodgson didn't know much about the fraud.
If the Serious Fraud Office has been willingly misled, issues of perjury arise, but I'm a veterinarian, not a lawyer.
He's a good person to be a Labour strategist, then as Labour has gone to the dogs.

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new billboard

as seen here.
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Take me down to the Destiny City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty

The leader of Destiny Church says plans are underway to create a self-contained "Destiny City" for its followers in the middle of South Auckland.

Plans for the city include a 5000-seat church, maraes, medical centres and schools - eliminating the need for residents to ever leave.

"Every child of every member of this church will never go to a state school again," Brian Tamaki said.

At the church's 10th anniversary celebrations, he urged the church's 7000-plus members to sell their homes and move to his city "for the purpose of God".

Which God? Not one I've heard of, anyway.

In 2003 Tamaki told his followers: "I predict in the next five years, by the time we hit our 10th anniversary - and I don't say this lightly - that we will be ruling the nation."

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Labour breaches advertising standards

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against Labour's "John and John" campaign ads and has ruled they carry misleading information because it says that John Key wants to cut Kiwi Saver in half.

I recon that all Labour's ads contain misleading information - the image of Helen Clark looks nothing like her. Totally misleading. And this election is about trust.

But if you want a laugh, check out the brand new WhaleOil video - made tonight - of the two Helens.

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Entrenchment II

Following on from my post on entrenching the Maori seats and the Electoral option, I’ve got a copy of the Maori Party bill that aims to amend s45 of the Electoral Act. This will entrench the seats, but not the Electoral option, which is covered under sections 76 , 77, 78 , and 79.

So if the seats are entrenched but not the option, what happens if the option (the above four sections) is voted down by a simple Parliamentary majority. We have seats – but anyone will be able to transfer in and out whenever they want, which has implication for the electoral quota. Section 79 specifically prevents transfers in and out without exercising the option - and the option is restricted to Maori.But if we entrench the Maori seats perhaps we should offer some protection to some of the option provisions as well?

The Maori Party may have a policy to commit the government to entrenching the seats – and even if a major governing party was to commit to supporting a bill through all stages, it still won’t get the numbers. That’s because, under standing orders, the bill requires a 75% parliamentary majority to pass. One more reason for any major Party to agree to entrenchment as part of post –election negotiations – both Helen Clark and John Key know full well entrenchment of Maori seats will never happen without support of both major parties. Conceivably a referendum and a majority of votes in the House could remove them. So no dead rat to swallow at all.

But for Helen Clark to suggest that the option could be entrenched to preserve the seats is treating us all for fools. Don’t believe the hype, its not even a sequel.

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Tom Scott

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Entrenching the Maori seats

Every five years, Maori can choose whether to go on the Maori or the general roll via the Maori electoral option. If the Maori seats were entrenched, 75% of Parliament would be needed to remove them. But if the Maori electoral option was entrenched it would the the only entrenched provision that could effectively be removed without a vote - purely by getting rid of the Maori Seats through a simple majority in the House. I'll explain.

Entrenchment of the Maori seats is a bottom line for Maori Party post-election negotiations - to the extent of supporting a bill to amend electoral law through all stages. The PM doesn't like that as she is maintaining that she has no difficulty with entrenching the Maori Electoral Option even though she has great difficulty with it. The entrenchment clause [clause 268 of the Electoral Act] can only be affected by a simple majority as it can't itself be entrenched. But touching entrenchment provisions to suspend or reduce the 75% majority would be a most unlikely thing for a Parliament to do.

Yesterday Helen Clark said this about the Maori seats.
There's obviously no need to entrench them with a Labour government
Today she said this:
I don't have any particular difficulty with entrenching those.
On radio today she said she was open to entrenchment.That pleased Tariana Turia.But she said she meant entrenching the seats through the Maori electoral option. Turia was still pleased.
Labour is very committed to the Maori electoral option. Can't see any problem with entrenching that. In fact you wonder why it isn't entrenched now.
Because this has no practical effect as the seats aren't entrenched, that's why. Clark's reason was that it pointless entrenching the option as clause 268 of the Electoral Act can't itself be entrenched and can be voted out by a simple majority - although hell will freeze over first. It's is a silly argument, as any entrenchment - like the voting age or term of parliament - can thus technically be overturned also.

But lets pretend the Maori electoral option is entrenched (and the seats aren't). What happens, then, if Maori think the seats should go, and Parliament gets a simple majority to remove them. In reality the option disappears with the seats so its effectively not entrenched - it goes with the seats and without a vote in the House. So entrenching the Maori electoral option is effectively retaining the status quo as a simple majority can get rid of the seats and effectively the entrenched option in one fell swoop.
Update see comments.


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Monday, October 27, 2008

Susan Couch knows nothing about the Susan Couch Trust

I have had word from someone who knows Susan Couch, with reference to the Susan Couch -Crime Victims Charitable Trust, which New Zealand First donated some of our money into.

I've been told that Susan Couch knows absolutely nothing about the Trust that bears her name. Apparently she doesn't even know why it bears her name. She has no details of it all, she has no idea what bank account it is, who arranged the bank account that the NZ First money went to, or apparently, whether she'll get any money from the Trust.

She thinks her name is potentially tarnished. If her name is tarnished, someone will be very angry.

Sounds like the trust was initiated without her knowledge. Yet Winston Peters know more about where the money is than Couch does - even though its not his trust. Imagine the outcry if Peters was to give our money to the For the Sake of our Children Trust and he could unequivically tell you two months later without contacting the trust that the money is still in the trust's bank account gathering interest.

What is good is that "a lot of good kiwis have backed Sue and helped her finance the court costs she is taking against the Government, so at least she's not going to be out of pocket" for suing the Government.

As an aside, a few people are going to Winston Peters site and making comments - but only the ones who think he done a marvelous job in helping Susan Couch get loads of money are getting their comments approved. None of mine have been approved.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Which way will the Maori Party jump?

(NB United Future will go with National).
No Right Turn has thought about options for the Maori Party after the election. He asks, which way will the Maori Party jump?

He offers three alternatives: Have cabinet posts and jump towards National, or Labour, or abstain from confidence and supply and sit on the crossbenches with a veto on legislation. That could be messy. But for some, it would be more desirable than a coalition with the party who comes a distant second.

Another option is to have a couple of Maori Party ministers outside Cabinet exercising Mana Motuhake for their people,supporting the Government on confidence and supply. This removes the problem for Maori Party MPs of collective Cabinet responsibility. But if that Government is led by the party who comes second, it will be extremely unpopular and suffer in the 2011 election, and the necessity of the 5% threshold would be questioned.

But I think there is a fifth option (and I stand to be corrected): Step, rather than jump. If both parties need the Maori Party to govern, but given the overhang (caused by the 5% threshold), one is a couple of votes short in confidence and supply, the Maori Party could conceivably have a couple of Ministers outside cabinet offering confidence and supply even if the rest of its party does not. It's a bit dodgy, but constitutionally, I don't think there is anything stopping this and to date, that's not happened. If NZ First gets in, or if left leaning voters who have switched to the right stay there, it probably won't get to that.

Many people still think we vote for a government, but it is parliament that chooses the Government now. We just pick who gets to choose. Never forget that we adopted MMP in the first place because we weren't happy that the party with the most votes did not necessarily gain power. But under MMP a party with fewer seats as well as fewer votes than the main opposition party can govern if they have the right friends - due to an overhang caused by the 5% threshold.

If a minor party forms a government with the second biggest party in Parliament, a government that governs with fewer than half the party votes may not be seen as legitimate - or seen as having a moral authority - by the wider electorate. But we don’t use moral authority to decide who governs, we use an electoral system. Calls would be made for electoral reform: from MMP with a minority of votes and seats, to FPP with parties possibly governing with less votes - but more seats. That won't solve anything as most want the party with the most votes to form a government.

The Maori Party would do well to remember that that good democratic government has to come before Maori aspirations and Maori electorate blinkeredness to Labour. A government percieved as illegitimate and undemocratic will not get Maori anywhere at all and if the Maori Party was to go with the smaller of the two main parties, many people who voted in 2008 will not vote in 2011 - including Maori. We should avoid that.

update Lew, commenting at The Standard, has some interesting comments on legitimacy and the right and ability to govern here.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Couch Trust was not formed when Peters declared his donation to the Speaker.

With reference to this, Kiwiblog readers have been doing some investigation. Here is the application for the Susan Couch - Crime Victims Charitable Trust. It was only signed on the 15th of August and registered as a Trust on 10 September. But that was after Winston Peters announced the donations, and after he told Speaker Margaret Wilson who the donations were going to.

Is this another Spencer Trust - set up for a large NZ First donation? Did Wilson keep the list of beneficiaries private because she knew that no application had been accepted by the Companies Office for the Couch Trust at the time. She would know that money can be put aside for a trust awaiting to be registered - but more importantly, this money could not be returned by the trustees at the time as they were not formally trustees. Was Wilson aware that the trustees were to be Peters' lawyers?

Two of the three Trustees are Winston’s personal lawyers – his solicitor and his barrister! Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust actually found Brian Henry and introduced him to Susan Couch to help her sue the crown although he was not aware he was Peters' lawyer at that time.

Half the $158,000 has gone to a trust run by Peters' lawyers.There is no reference to Susan Couch in the trust deed, except being the name of the trust. Couch is not listed as the Patron or as a beneficiary (charitable trusts don't have beneficiaries), and the three Trustees have total power over the Trust. So how can it be administered on behalf of her?

Winston Peters said "We were pleased to donate the money to a trust that could assist her".

It could assist her. But will it? She's got no money yet, Winston Peters said so. Sounds like a lawyers charity setup for Peters' donation to me.


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Do you want a free Thai massage?

Hell Pizza is giving away Thai massages and ripping people off in the process.

All you have to do is order a premium pizza, wedges and 1.5L coke for $25 and the Thai massage is included in its hot as hell deal. So says the flier with a pic of a scantily clad Thai that I got in my letterbox today.

But then you read the small print:"Thai massage must be redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase. Flights not included". Problem is that it is a Thai from New Zealand on the front cover of the flier. That's false advertising - a bit like Labour advertising its Working for Families package with a picture of an American family.

But then on the back, if you bother to read further small print, it says " Oh, and I`m sure it comes as no surprise, but we cant actually give you the Thai Massage".

How disappointing. It's a pretty bad deal - as you can get two pizzas - double classic and double premium - and wedges for $20.00, which is a much better deal. If you really want the added coke you would pay less than $25.00 and get more pizza than the massage deal. But if you want a good pizza deal you can get four large pizzas from Dominos for less than $25 this weekend.

So basically Hell Pizza is using a massage enticement to sell pizzas - but overinflating the price and not offering or providing the massage. Even without the massage the deal is not hot as hell at all - it's a hell of a bad deal - marketing to the brain dead.


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Friday, October 24, 2008

Bean poll

Muffin Break actually make pretty good coffee - at least in my electorate where the barista has won an award or two. I`m an avid coffee drinker as many will know and Muffin Break is where I buy most of my fixes - well four out of every five as the fifth one is free.

The Bean Poll, which has been remarkably accurate in the previous two New Zealand elections and in Australia last year, allows customers at the 38 Muffin Break stores nationwide to vote - via coffee bean - for their preferred party.

It's latest bean poll has National ahead in every store but five. I`m in the Ohariau electorate and United Future is coming third. Funnily enough Labour is ahead at the Dunedin Hospital Muffin Break, indicating that that there are some pretty sick Labour supporters out there. So far 73,000 have cast their vote with the winner is the next Prime Minister who is going to get free coffee until the 2011 election.
Update Like all polls, you don't have to be on the electoral roll to cast your bean - you don't have to be 18, either.
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NZ First names a charity that got some of our $158k

Winston Peters has revealed that $76k of our money went to a charitable trust for a person whose lawyer is Peters' lawyer, Brian Henry. The trust is administered on behalf of Susan Couch, who is currently suing the Corrections Department. Couch is the survivor of the RSA triple murder.

So, here we have a lawyer that doesn't charge for services rendered to Winston Peters, no doubt getting a cut from another trust set up on behalf of a person he is also a lawyer for. All thanks to a tax-payer funded donation by a Government minister to a trust set up on behalf of someone who is suing the Government.


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Who would you turn gay for?

Gay Express has an election special. It interviews John Key and asks him who he'd turn gay for. His response:
Brad Pitt. Now that he’s a bit older, he’s a bit of a looker. I was going to say Tom Cruise, but someone of his age shouldn’t look that young.
They also interview Helen Clark. Like John Key, she was asked if she would vote for Civil Unions if it were presented again today, and if she would vote for a gay marriage bill.

But she was not asked who she'd turn gay for. I wonder why not? She wasn't even asked who she'd turn straight for.

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New blog

This is the new blog of fictitious candidate, Dennis Plant, standing for the non-existent seat of Wakatipu South for Future New Zealand. Last seen campaigning in Tauramaranaki, no doubt.

You may have seem him on TV. The Party even has a wheelchair policy.
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The Christian vote

Andy Moore has a new website, Christian vote summarising who he thinks Christians should vote for. He assesses five parties: Kiwi, Family, ACT, United Future and National, who he maintains the majority of Christians will vote for. All had a majority of MPs/candidates that opposed the anti smacking legislation just prior to the third reading of the bill.

If he's correct, a majority of Christians are going to vote National. Those who don't are going to have their party votes either wasted or supplementing votes for successful candidates from Ohariu and Epsom.

Moore says Christians will not vote for any of the other parties - he says they are not worth voting for. I would like to challenge him on this. I recon more Christians will vote Labour than the Family/Kiwi/ United Future/ Act parties combined. Well done on the site, but it is obvious who Moore supports. He said he has endeavoured to provide a balanced and accurate view. He gets a generous two stars for balance from me, but a few more for accuracy.

Moore should take another look at the value your vote website and see which party is the most consistently family friendly party in terms of the percentage/number balance of collective family friendly votes cast on the issues canvassed.

Because he's missed that party out.

It's fairly well known that I'm a Christian, and although I`m an undecided voter, as of today I don't intend to vote for any of the parties Moore maintains the majority of Christians should vote for. In fact there's only one I`d even consider voting for. Looks like I'm in a minority.


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5000 more on the dole

The September benefit figures are out and since June more than 11,000 extra people are receiving benefits. Of the main benefits, 5000 more are on the dole, there's 2000 more sickness beneficiaries, 1000 fewer invalids beneficiaries and 2000 more on the DPB.

And Ruth Dyson is very quiet about it - she doesn't care, she`s only going to be the minister for the next few weeks.

What is interesting is that there is a higher proportion receiving the dole for less than a year, but a lower proportion of sickness beneficiaries on that benefit for less than a year. Perhaps those working at Work and Income can't transfer people from the unemployment benefit to the sickness benefit fast enough. So many are becoming unemployed there's no time.


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Thursday, October 23, 2008

One of these looks like the other

John Key and Stan Laurel
hat tip Sideswipe
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What the election is about

Garth George has done a pretty good column today
This election is not about trust, because the public does not trust politicians, except, perhaps, those of the Maori Party.

It is not about the cuts... Working for Families or KiwiSaver.. It isn't about whether John Key is fit to be Prime Minister, because as long as he is not Helen Clark he can't lose.

It isn't about energy or the environment[or]privisation. This election is all about freedom - the freedom of the individual to live his or her life with as little interference as possible from the state, its politicians and minions.
I suggest you read it in full. It's one of his better ones.

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The Maori Party may not go into coalition at all

According to Colin Espiner Pita Sharples has effectively come out and said that there is no way the Maori Party will be in coalition with National, because his people prefer Labour. But if it went into coalition with Labour it would be political suicide if Labour gets fewer seats than National. Labours support is the Maori Party's biggest problem. The biggest problem for the two main parties is entrenchment of the Maori seats is a bottom line for the Maori Party and both main parties don't buy it.

Many Maori won't exercise their right to vote, but they`ll go to the Marae to tell Tariana Turia to pick Labour even if it gets fewer seats than National, if the Maori Party agree, Labour could be the Government. That would outrage so many people.

One thing is clear: The Maori Party want to further the Maori people. But the Maori people need to get out of this "pick National or Labour" mentality because a coalition agreement is not needed to to further Maori aspirations and development. That is what Tariana Turia is trying to tell the Maori people who are fixated on coalitions. However the Maori Party needs to support the governing party to further Maori aspirations and this includes Ministerial posts. Even though Labour is more likely offer the Maori Party a Cabinet post, that does not follow that the Maori people will be better off than under National with a few ministerial posts outside Cabinet. However it is likely that if National offers Ministerial posts to the Maori Party, it will be expected to sign a confidence and supply agreement.

So what does this mean? It means a vote for National is a vote for a change of Government - with or without Maori Party support. It means a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for the future of the Maori people, but it is not clear what sort of a future it will be. If the Maori Party go into coalition with either party, it is less likely to have a long term parliamentary future because Government involves the rest of us. Unless some minds are changed, I don't think the Maori Party will go into coalition with National even if it considers that Maori will get a better deal than offered by Labour.

It won't go into formal coalition at all as neither National or Labour say it agrees to entrenchment if the Maori seats. It would be much better seeking ministerial posts outside Cabinet, which is what I have always promoted. It is up to the voters to pick a parliament that enables this to happen.

Update Danyl @ the DimPost reports that Tariana Turia announced that the removal of Tin from the periodic table of elements would be a bottom line for any coalition deal with a major party. The Greens won't be happy with that!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One in five Maori in latest polls are undecided voters - will they even vote?

A Maori Television Poll poll out tonight gives Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia a huge lead over Labour's Errol Mason in Te Tai Haururu. Turia polled 79 percent, with Mason 19 percent. Yet the Labour Party lead the party vote 47 to 33 percent which is different to the previous two Maori electorate polls which are evenly split between the Maori Party and Labour.

But 17 percent are undecided voters, and 31 percent of voters aged between 18-24 are undecided as well. That's a high proportion. I wonder if many of them will bother to vote the week after next. Also 2 percent through Tim Barnett should be Prime Minister!

This follows a poll yesterday in Waiariki where two thirds of Waiariki voters currently support Te Ururoa Flavell from the Maori Party as their local Maori MP (66 per cent) – more than double Labour's Mita Ririnui on 29 per cent. The party vote was pretty much neck and neck with 40 percent supporting Labour and 38 percent supporting the Maori Party. Yet 20 percent are undecided.

In Tamaki Makaurau, Pita Sharples is on 80 percent, with undecides coming in second with 14 percent. Labour's Louisa Wall is on 11 percent - probably the only Labour candidate who is polling less than the undecideds!

The next political poll will focus on the Maori electorate of Te Tai Tokerau (Tuesday October 28). The last poll had Labours Kelvin Davis on 17 percent wiith Hone Hariwira in 29 percent with the Maori Party leading the party vote. The following day I`ll have the Te Tai Tonga result, then the Hauraki Waikato (Tuesday November 4); and Ikaroa Rawhiti (Wednesday November 5).

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New spending announced?

I've been informed from Chris Carters office that Carter is going to announce a multimillion dollar policy that will add more money into early childhood in South Auckland, assisting 450 kids.$9m actually - that's $5,000 a child for each of the next four years. Great. It will be even better if 20 hours free was actually free.

The policy will pay for early childhood centres that are located on school property. The idea is that if preschoolers go to preschool on a site that is located in primary school grounds, then kids will be more likely to go to school when they are five instead of waiting until the legal age of six.

I asked if it was new spending. The person in Carters office said it was - until I mentioned that Helen Clark said that she was not going to announce any new spending before the election. She then said it probably wasn't new spending. Perhaps $9m or so is not significant enough to be classed as new spending?

So, I`m none the wiser. But you`d think the staff in the ministers office would know.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Whatever happened to the better way with Labour?

What's Labour doing with this song these days. Have they ignored Chris Knox for King Kapisi?

Anybody know?

Audrey Young initially said that the song, despite being repetitive, was pretty catchy - and Labour will use it in the campaign "for sure". Haven't heard it - have they ditched it? It sure is a catchy tune, lets get some better lyrics.

Let's all walk away from Labour,
There's a better way than Labour,
Let's all do away with Labour,

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One of these is not like the other

Labour has been attacking National lately. The ad features the two Johns. So, we have the two Johns and the two Helens. One of these is not like the other. Another one of these is like the other.

The two Johns. (HT No minister)

The two Helens.
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Government Minister demands apology from police boss over Tuhoe raids

This afternoon, at a forum I attended at Massey University's Wellington Campus, Labour Minister Mahara Okeroa called for a public apology from Police Commissioner Howard Broad over the Tuhoe raids last year. He demanded - yes that was the word used - a public apology from the Commissioner, saying the police raids were totally unacceptable and the Terrorism Suppression Act was incorrectly applied.

National's Georgina te Heuheu was also at the forum and she agreed the Act was applied incorrectly. She said it was the Governments role to ensure that laws were applied correctly, and in this case it wasn't. Green MP Metiria Turei said that the Act was oppressive and was not surprised it had been used to oppress Maori.

Okeroa supported Solicitor General David Collin's decision not to prosecute those arrested under the Act.

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To promote the Treaty

The Maori Party wants to appoint a Treaty Commissioner specifically to promote the Treaty partnership betwen Maori and the Crown.Apparently the policy is to be announced later this week. The role envisaged is similar to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, except that it will promote the Treaty's role in the partnership principle, particularly with regards to funding decisions.

One of the reasons the party considers that a Commissioner is necessary is that the needs of Maori are greater and need to be seen in terms of the Treaty partnership.

Any appointed commissioner would ensure that devolved services and government funding for Maori groups are funded and administered in terms of the Treaty partnership.

Does this mean that such a commissioner would ensure that any education funding, for example Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa, will only be provided on condition that kids are taught about the Treaty, or will schools have to fundraise even more. One student at Owairaka school asked Helen Clark if she would give schools more money because they don't get enough. Her response:
But gala days are fun, aren't they.
Gala days may be fun, but not as much fun as wagging school. Galas don't get as much money as funding,either, thats why schools have to have full-blown fairs each year.


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Labour loser as bold plans fail to add up

Good article by Dene McKenzine in the ODT today, summing up the past few weeks.
A bold plan to bring forward infrastructure spending and create jobs at a time when unemployment was expected to rise was also revealed by Miss Clark.

The fact that National Party deputy leader Bill English issued statement after statement asking how Miss Clark would pay for the estimated $1.3 billion of unfunded promises escaped the wider group of voters.

It appeared as though Labour was heading on a road to possible victory rather than one of certain defeat as National continued to hover around 51% in the opinion polls compared to Labour lurking around 33%.

What a difference a week makes.

This column predicted some bold promises would be made on Sunday, thinking particularly of Labour as it continued its spending momentum. But that momentum stalled when Miss Clark at a Wellington rally ruled out making any more spending promises during the campaign. She went back to the issue of trust and leadership and how Mr Key, who made his estimated $50 million fortune on Wall Street, did not have the experience to lead New Zealand during times of global economic upheaval.

Across town, at Parliament, Mr Key used his merchant banking experience and finally found the edge he had been searching for on the economy.

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TGIF online

For those interested in the Yang Liu immigration story but haven't read it yet, its online here
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Family First claims being married has an annual "marriage penalty tax" of up to $15,000

A married couple both working and on low incomes or a family with one earner are being penalised up to $15,000 a year in household income compared with a couple who separates. Furthermore, according to Family First, low income families are being hardest hit by NZ’s ‘marriage penalty tax’.

In many cases this is complete bollocks.

Here's how it works: You go to this calculator, punch in your marital status, income, number of kids, accommodation and hours worked, and "bingo", you find out how much better off you are if you split up.

So I gave it a try. We`re a low income family so we would be hardest hit, apparently. Guess what - we`re better off together! Now that wasn't supposed to happen. Even if we both earned $50,000 and paid $350 a week in mortgage payments we`d be better off together. So why this:
For a married couple who are both working and receiving low incomes (for example $40,000 each) and have 3 children, their joint income is $14,715 lower than if they were separated or divorced because of the interaction of family income assistance programmes such as the Working for Families Tax Credit and the Accommodation Supplement.
So why are we better off if low income families are being hardest hit by this "marriage penalty tax?" Simple: We don't have three kids or a $400 mortgage and our accommodation costs are not likely to be $500-600 a week if we were to split.

For low income families, its not a marriage penalty tax at all - it's an accommodation and baby penalty tax because the same family on $40,000 each with a mortgage lower than $400 per week (say, $230) will be better off married with two kids, but better off single with three.

Take another example, a childless family where one partner earns $50,000 and the other earns $30,000 is $5,800 better off married. Have a child and you`re $4000 better off single. Find a cheaper place for $220 a week and you`re better off married. But have another child and you're $3000 better off single. Sounds like a hypothetical "baby penalty tax" to me - nothing to do with marriage - or cohabitation - at all.Actually it's not even that, its how redistribution works - you get more if you are in a lower salary and even more if your oists are high.So higher proportion is removed if you get a pay increase or have less costs on a low salary. It's income, not marital status, that is the key variable.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

New report: family breakdown costs each taxpayer $300 every year

.......breaking news.......

Update Report is here Media article is here Loose morals cost NZ$1b a year. Loose morals?????

A report to be released later today estimates the fiscal cost to the taxpayer of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is at least $1 billion per year, or $300 per taxpayer. It's actually a pretty good report with a lot of data which I may blog later, but its promotion of marriage is not that convincing.

The Value of Family – Fiscal Benefits of Marriage and Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand [online here later today] was commissioned by Family First, and suggests that the private costs of divorce and unmarried childbearing include a range of things from increased risks of poverty and juvenile delinquency to family violence and educational failure.

Although the report does provide a fiscal and social cost of family breakdown, it does not quantify the fiscal benefits of marriage, despite its title, as they are lumped in with - and are no doubt pretty much equal to - the benefits of cohabiting couples - and more than 40 percent of couples aged under 44 are unmarried. But the report discusses decreasing marriage rates,implying that there is a social and economic cost because proportionally fewer people are getting married. But marriage rates are decreasing not just because of cohabitation, they are also decreasing because the parents of a third of this country's children have no partner. And it is the sole parents in poverty and on benefits who are disproportionately adding to these fiscal costs.

The report notes that social policy should promote two parent families, particularly marriage, because they fare better than sole parent families. Given that most children live in two parent families, and of these families, most are married, I would have thought quantification of the fiscal benefits of marriage would be more important and come prior to mentioning decreasing marriage rates. But does it matter whether kids' parents are married? Actually, I would have thought a bigger deal is whether kids are brought up with one parent or two.

What is clear from this report is that marriage is not as significant a variable as whether a household has one or two parents. But if we want to analyse and reduce family breakdown, whether the parents are married is irrelevant if they are living together. Lets look at the number of cohabiters who are splitting up, not just the divorce or decreasing marriage rates. Lets look at poverty. Also, the report's public policy recommendation of marriage guidance should be extended to relationship guidance to promote the durability of all two parent families, not just to those who are about to get a marriage certificate.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hilterman hit his kids as well as his wife

I recently blogged about the case of a police prosecutor who denied he hit his wife but had his occupation suppressed. It has been revealed he hit his kids as well, all on the same day.

Hilterman's occupation was suppressed because the judge was concerned that publication would elevate public interest in the case.The suppression order was made on the basis of other officers getting undue publicity - particularly the case where four police assaulted a man in the cells last year with pepper spray and batons - and were subsequently acquitted.

But if you get dodgy cops, of course public interest is going to be elevated. If police kept out of trouble and did not deny lawbreaking when caught, even if other cops have been wrongly acquitted in the past because their lawyers lied in court, public interest would not be so great.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up to 40 percent of the Maori electorate support the Maori Party

This election is about the Maori vote - because that vote will decide the election. The media knows this, and knows that an increasing Maori Party electorate vote could reduce the overhang - but less likely lead to a Labour government it is seeking.

Perhaps that is why in its latest Marae poll ( which polled more than twice as many non- Maori as Maori), it chose not to differentiate the vote of Maori between the general and Maori electorates.This is significant given that a higher proportion of Maori in general electorate seats are likely to list vote Labour.

According to recent polling, Maori do support Labour - but one in five Maori have indicated they`ll vote for the Maori Party. But in the Maori electorate thats even higher - except that the media don't want you to know that as it has not split up the Maori vote between the two electorates. But pollsters have told me that Maori electorate support the Maori Party is a lot more than 20 per cent - in Tamaki Makaurau it is 36 percent.

The Maori Party could make a clean sweep of the seats as well. If this election is a close contest between the centre left and the centre right, National will benefit more than Labour as the fewer seats the Maori Party wins, the harder it may be for National to govern.

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Maori seats a threat to minor party leaders' aspirations

Both Rodney Hide and Peter Dunne have criticised the Maori seats as being undemocratic and a distortion of MMP because the party vote for the Maori Party is likely to be less than the candidate vote, thus causing an overhang. Peter Dunne may well be an overhang MP too, going on current polling.

It's ironic that although Dunne and Hide seek a National government, the more seats the Maori Party wins, the less likely it is that they`ll be Ministers in that government. But if Labour secures a few of the Maori seats, National may not be in Government at all, which is why Helen Clark is discouraging the Maori electorate from a "two ticks Maori Party" stance that about one in four of the electorate subscribe to.

Dunne and Hide should be encouraging the Maori electorate - well, all Maori actually - to support the Maori Party to reduce the despised overhang and to take votes off Labour. Its not as if they're going to vote United Future and Act in great numbers.

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Another first time National voter

Which well known household name - a former Labour voter - has spent five years in periodic detention centres, served two prison sentences, has been arrested 33 times, has written two books and has been voting the minor parties recently - is going to be a first time National voter in 2008.

Answer here.


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It's not the Electoral Finance Act this time

Keeping Stock has noticed that the Dominion Post has reported on an Access Radio station too scared to run foul of the law and run interviews with local candidates. He says it is the fault of the Electoral Finance Act.

He's wrong.

It's the electoral rules in the Broadcasting Act that is the problem - which the article makes quite clear.
It's important not to think this is one of these Electoral Finance Act issues - it's not. The Broadcasting Act's got a definition of what an election programme is. That hasn't changed.
I was made aware of this case earlier in the week and spoke with the person who leaked this story to the media. The problem is part 6 of the Broadcasting Act, specifically the definition of “election programme” in section 69,, and section 70. Under section 80, it is an offence not to comply with section 70. These sections were part of the reason why the Electoral Commission reported Shane Jones to the Police, except he breached the Electoral Finance Act as well.

So blaming the Electoral Finance Act for Access Radios failure to broadcast these interviews is rather ignorant when it clearly has nothing to do with it. Actually there is nothing prohibiting the broadcasting of these interviews in a current affairs programme provided it does not come across as an election programme.

It appears that the Access Radio station manager has been spooked by the advice of the Electoral Commission and does not want to run the risk. Yet there is absolutely no reason why he cannot run opening and closing statements from each candidate in a balanced way - he just point blank refuses to do it.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Another flawed policy that won’t be implemented

Labour has released it’s social development policy.

Part of it aims to assist the transition of beneficiaries back into work by lifting the amount earned before abatement kicks in. The abatement threshold has been the same for the past 12 years. The abatement threshold for earnings lifts from $80 to $100 in 2010, to $120 in 2011, and $140 in 2012. A beneficiary earning $140.00 a week gets to keep $14 more a week in 2010, $28 more in 2011, and $42 more in 2012. That’s $728.00 a year more if they work every week.

Yet any beneficiary family with kids would get more per annum – even in 2012 - if they accessed their WINZ food grant allowances every year.

Labour wants the amount beneficiaries can earn before abatement to be the equivalent of ten hours pay at the adult minimum wage (currently $120) within five years, but will do nothing about it in the first 17 months. Actually it is doing nothing about it at all as the time the abatement threshold does get to be $120- in 2011 - it is unlikely that the minimum wage will still be $12 an hour as Labour has agreed to lift it in its next term of Government.

When Labour took office in 1999, the minimum wage was $7 an hour, and the threshold was more than 10 hours pay at the minimum wage. Labour has no intention of tagging the abatement threshold to an equivalent minimum wage rate as in 1999.

If the Government wants the abatement threshold to be the equivalent of ten hours of the minimum wage by 2012, this policy ain't it.How can Labour implement this policy with its current policy on the minimum wage given that both policies are linked?


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Kelvin Davis - Labour party candidate going backwards

Kelvin Davis is the Labour Party candidate trying to pinch Hone Haraiwira's seat. He is 29th on the Labour list. He says he doesn't believe in slagging people off. But just this week - he attacks the Maori Party. He says the party needs his help as its education policy lacks substance, and will not make any difference to Maori.

He attacks National saying its education policy is a farce.

He attacks Rodney Hide on his position on the Maori seats - and rightly so - but incorrectly states the seats are a right as a Treaty partner when the seats have nothing to do with the Treaty. They seats are not a Treaty right, they were initiated by an Act of Parliament.

Davis want to help all Maori fulfill their true destiny as prescribed by the "Creator." Wonder if Helen Clark knows about this, she doesn't believe in a Creator.

Why would Davis put out so many media releases this week?

Simple. He is polling 26 percent, whereas Hone Hariwira is polling 69 percent. The gap is 17 percentage points more than the March poll. Not only that, the Maori Party is also leading the party vote as well.
update: Friday He's done another release. He should really start a blog.

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Sore loser

Helen Clark is a sore loser over the TV debate. She is still smarting for losing a debate then stating Key had a telly tantrum. She said at one point " You might be used to shouting people down at home, but you're not shouting me down" - a comment interpreted by some as insinuating Key shouted at his family.

Of course, Clark has never had kids to shout down so obviously didn't have that well-rounded experience of being shouted down. But it is interesting to analyse - in a professional and fairly detached way, of course - the progression of her own analysis on the debate has progressed.
Helen Clark, immediately after the debate:
It was a good old-fashioned debate on the issues. I hope that means we’ve banished any idea that this is a bitter kind of election debate. I think people want to hear us being up front, straight on.

Helen Clark, yesterday afternoon:
Expectations were low, firstly because people hadn’t seen him in a debate before and secondly because he had a disastrous start to the campaign. So the fact he didn’t collapse with a stress attack on the set probably gave him marks.

Helen Clark: last night Last night Miss Clark said she did not think the campaign was bitter and today said she was just offering a professional analysis of how it went...... in a fairly detached way
Professional? Analysis? Detached?

Sore loser more like it.


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Today's Emmerson

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Helen Clark thinks her voice is not deep enough

Helen Clark had a tantrum today. She is accusing John Key of, um, having a tantrum.

She said it was lucky he didn't cry on the TV debate last night and accusing him of having a tantrum.
"The fact he didn't burst out crying on the set probably counted for him," she said during a Radio Live question and answer session this morning.
Clark said Key was "completely out of control trying to shout me down".At one point Miss Clark made a comment that Mr Key may shout at home but he wouldn't shout her down.

Today she said she was not accusing him of yelling at his family.
I'm really referring to the fact that by women's voices I have a lower register by men's voices he has a higher one."
I disagree. They have pretty much an equal advantage. For a woman, Clark's voice is pretty deep. It about as deep as Georgina Beyer's voice. And at times Beyer's voice is deeper than Key's, if Key gets a bit excited.

Now we know why Clark speaks slowly and deeply on TV. It's for the "register factor".

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Party lists

The party lists for the General Election are now up on the website.Act has a pretty big list. Even the Resident's Action Movement (RAM) have 26 on its list - more than NZ First.

And looking at the Workers Party list, it's a wonder it's not called the Family Party. We have former VUWSA president Nick Kelly, his partner, the 2009 VUWSA president, as well as the current VUWSA President, Joel Cosgrove, his partner and her sister - all taking up more than a third of the entire party list.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Maori hold the balance of power

Act leader Rodney Hide believes it will be damaging to MMP and our political system if the Maori Party holds the balance of power after the election. He says it is damaging because he does not like indigenous seats - especially if they are linked to a party that may win all of them as electorate MPs. Besides,he doesn't like the fact that non- Maori can't vote for candidates in the Maori seats.
People will think hang on, how come these people in these (seven) Maori seats where I cannot vote are getting to decide whether it is going to be Helen Clark or John Key who is going to be Prime Minister.

That does not seem on the face of it fair.
But Hide would also think it is unfair if the Maori Party got the seven seats as list seats even though anyone can list vote the Maori Party. Hide's beef is with the ethnicity of the seats - more specifically, the success of Maori electorate MPs from a party that has no general electorate MPs.Yet he dresses criticism up based on our electoral system and voting access, when it is closer to being racist. But if United Future was to get 2 percent of the vote but elect six electorate MPs - all Christians - and hold the balance of power, would Hide say that "these people for whom I can't vote" are deciding who the Prime Minister is - and play the Christophobic card - or is it just that white Christians have the wrong colour skin for the kind of criticism Hide is dishing out?

It would be a cop out for Hide to state that anyone can choose to list vote United Future - likewise, anyone can choose to list vote the Maori Party.

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Sir Edmund Hillary OPC to be charged after Elim deaths

breaking news
The Outdoor Pursuit Centre is to face charges after six teenagers and a teacher were killed in the Mangatepopo canyoning disaster.

The Deparment of Labour laid four charges against the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre today.

Six students and a teacher from Auckland's Elim Christian College died when they were hit by a huge torrent of water while canyoning near Turangi in April.

The first two charges relate to OPC's obligations to protect the instructor who went into the gorge with the students and teacher. The third relates to OPC's obligation to ensure that its employee's actions didn't expose others to avoidable risks.

The fourth charge relates to OPC's obligation to appropriately ensure the safety of other people in the place of work.

More here.


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Helen Clark's dream v John Key's vision

Helen Clark is been dreaming too much. "I have a dream when I came to govt" she said,at least twice, on the TV3/YouTube debate tonight, "to give every student the same privileges I had". Nine years on, it might happen in 2012.

That's not a vision - that's a dream. It won't happen. We will not have the same privileges. John Key won the debate tonight because he has a vision and can back it up with recent and current facts as to why that vision is relevant and important.

Doesn't mean I`m going to vote for him, though.

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Clark had no record player or motorbike as a student

Helen Clark thinks that not having a record player as a student is evidence of being poor. She had no record players a student. Too busy buying alcohol, I suspect. I wonder how many times she ran out of food or had no money to pay the rent.

But, she said she had no motorbike either. How sad. Students getting the full student allowance have no money for bus fares. Betcha Clark did.


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Living on a student allowance

It is one thing being eligible for a student allowance, and another thing getting it. Helen Clark said this on universal student allowances.
This policy means that students will be borrowing less and will be able to move on more quickly from the costs incurred in getting tertiary education to set up their own homes and establish their careers.
Does she mean that students will only have to borrow $12,000 for fees, with books on top of that, and live on a student allowance? A student aged 18-24 who lives away from home gets $ 153.46 , plus $40.00 accommodation costs. That doesn't even cover rent, food and transport! Students borrow for fees and course costs, have to work part time to survive and have their allowance abated dollar for dollar if they get more than $185.00 per week.

Here's some figures: If a student earns $250.00 a week ($201.00 net) they get a $88.00 abated allowance [ $153 - ( $250-$185) ] and $40.00 accommodation supplement, totalling $329.00. If they get the Student loan and a WINZ accommodation supplement with their earnings, they get $460.00 which they`ll do if their expenses are $310.00 a week. The low income WINZ supplement could be up to $60.00 - or more if they have a mortgage. So, the allowance option is $329.00, the loans option is $460.00. Better to live on $360.00, get a loan and save $100.00 a week, accumulate interest and pay it all back once finished studying and if National gets in you`ll get a 10% discount on your lump sum loan payment.

If a student gets a job that pays $370.00 a week they don't get student allowance at all.But they can get student loans and go into debt if they spend all their money.

How does extending the student allowance to younger students from richer families mean students will borrow less when the very students from these families are either are earning too much to get the full amount, and the few that are "borrowing less" have to live in cold flats on noodles and food grants and money from their parents to survive?

A good policy from a students perspective would be to remove or limit abatements on universal allowances and use loans as a top up. That's unaffordable too.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More on Student Allowances

Helen Clark said this on student allowances.
This policy means that students will be borrowing less and will be able to move on more quickly from the costs incurred in getting tertiary education to set up their own homes and establish their careers.
Does she mean that students will only have to borrow for fees and live on a student allowance? A student aged 18-24 who lives away from home gets $ 153.46 , plus $40.00 accomodation costs. That doesn't even cover rent, food and transport! Students borrow for fees and course costs, work part time and have their allowance abated dollar for dollar if they get more than $185 per week. Meaning if they get a job that pays $350.00 a week they don't get student allowance at all.

So how does extending the student allowance to younger students from richer families mean students can set up their homes and establish their careers, when the very students who are doing this are earning too much to get it, and the few that aren't have to live on noodles and food grants to survive?


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Universal student allowances could lead to increased fees and reduced teaching quality if Government policy does not change

The Government has announced that full time students will get a universal student allowance in 2012 as parental means testing is eventually abolished. It had planned this policy in the first half of this year but only announced now because it is about to lose an election. But the first substantial move won’t occur until 2011. The PM said universal allowances would assist Labour's goal of creating a "knowledge-led society", but two thirds of the people who will benefit from this policy - provided they can live off a student allowance - are too young to vote.

But the increased knowledge will go to lecturers, not students. The real problem is not what allowances students get, it is how tertiary study is funded. Whereas tertiary institutions were funded for study, they are now chasing the research dollar as effective full time students (EFTS) funding declines and teaching students takes a back seat. A fee maxima has been put in place limiting the size of the undergraduate fee increases to 5 percent a year, despite open ended enrolments. In 2008 there simply isn’t enough state funding to cover the cost of educating students, given the caps to fee increases. Tertiary institutions are cutting costs and dropping courses, with senior lecturers focusing on research and writing journal articles rather than teaching, so their institution can get a higher slice of the $250m annual performance based research fund (PBRF). So universities have become research facilities that teach with PBRF goals being more important than student progress. And as universities are collectively $230 million a year worse off in real terms than they would be if government funding had been maintained at the level of the early 1990s, you can see why universities take this research approach.

I wouldn’t be surprised if either teaching quality plummets or the 5 percent fee maxima is lifted and EFTS funding is reduced, increasing fees enormously if the research/ teaching funding balance is not rectified. Students will cop it. If extra money is going to students at underfunded universities, this means that students will be getting more money in allowances as they get lower quality education. That’s hardly creating a knowledge led society.

If the 5 percent maxima is not lifted, the PBRF targets will be the main focus of university lecturers who are already starting to care more about their research than the students they teach. Some will see students as a necessary nuisance. The Government is rewarding lecturers to research, while bribing students to vote for them. This has nothing to do with teaching or quality education.Perhaps this policy will be paid for with cancelled tax cuts in Labour's December mini-budget -if it wins the elction?

We need the Government to reward universities for being good teachers, not just good researchers. But it looks like students are going to have student allowances and increased fees so that universities can meet research goals. Meaning fees subsidise research. Students will have to work longer hours in paid jobs if they don’t want borrow to live. There is no guarantee that any fee increases will lead to increased teaching quality – in fact Government is encouraging students to contribute to their lecturers increased knowledge at the expense of their own because it underfunds tertiary study - and that sucks.

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Student allowances

I'm a full time student. I dont get a student allowance because I cant afford to live on one. I have been busy writing three assignments this weekend and today - two are now sent off - hence the lack of blogging - and now I`m at work. I`ll be writing about Labour's bad policy on universal student allowances after work and how I believe the money spent on allowances for the few will be channelled in increased university fees for us all.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

The KiwiSaver Tax Credit mess

This is scary if it is true.
update this has been edited.

If National gets in, the maximum a person can get as an employer tax credit under KiwiSaver is 2 percent of their pay. So if you earn $50,000, its $1000, if you earn $10,000, its $200. But if you are a student in a part time job putting in your 2 percent, you won't get much. Better to save some money if you can, or get a loan and whack as much in as you can - say $900 - between the time you finish studying (and working that part time job) and the time you get another job. can also put in as much as you want and the Government matches it up to $1040. So put in $900 and you`ll get a Government contribution of $900 as a tax credit the same asyou would as if you were working.

But you`ll miss out on your employer tax credit. So if you state you are self employed for a few months, or have your partner employ you at an extremely good rate, like a lump sum of many thousands, you can put in double, half it as the employer contribution - paid from your joint account - and claim the credits back off the Government to put back in your own KiwiSaver scheme as contributions.

But then there will be problems. If you then get a $40,000 job and contribute 2 percent of your salary, the Government will make no contribution to your employer as you would have already maxed out on this subsidy - in fact based on that salary you would have 20 percent more than you would have got had you been employed on that salary right through. At least, that's the theory, but in practice what could happen if there are no checks on this, is that the Government will eventually make an overpayment of a tax credit to your employer and, when it finds out, someone will be expected to pay the IRD back to cancel out the overpaid employer credits.

But in many cases the IRD won't find out unless all providers declare contributions before the end of the KiwiSaver year -and if they don't, IRD will not know how much the tax credit should be until it does.Two major providers have still not sent their lists to Inland Revenue for the year ending last June.

But as Mary Holm points out, the KiwiSaver year is different to the financial year. The KiwiSaver year is July - June, but it is expected to assess tax credits based on financial years from April to March. But if you have recently started a job, your annual pay year is based from that start date.

But what say you then leave a job and enter a higher paying one - and accept their different KiwiSaver provider - not only will IRD have no idea what your tax credits should be if one of the providers does not advise IRD, but you probably won't either unless you keep a real close tab on your accounts. Its even worse if you are working two part time jobs with two different KiwiSaver providers. Should it be found that you will be overpaid, you won't get the employer contributions. But if an administrative error is made and your KiwiSaver account is overpaid, and you are owed a tax rebate at the end of the financial year as well, one could cancel the other out. If you have to pay, you`ll have a big debt.

Rather than saving, KiwiSaver could get you into debt. And if you are in sufficient debt, apparently you can cash your KiwiSaver contributions. You can then pay the IRD the overpaid employer contributions because the IRD will probably force you to do so rather than write it off due to inability to pay.

So, if you are in that situation, you won't save at much all. But at least you`ll get a decent tax cut. In 2011.


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Helen Clark on the nanny state

How do you respond to people who complain about "nanny state" and that they are"sick of Labour telling them how to run their lives"?

I can't relate to the criticism at all [because I don't have kids to smack and I don't have to pay for anything]. It just doesn't square to me with anything we have done [apart from the smacking legislation]. I stand for the maximum possible freedom of people [except when they want to have a say on political matters in election year, have a high pressure shower, or smack their kids, for example], but any democratic society will place some constraints on that, for example racist abuse [ and, like child abuse, this government has placed no legal restraints on that]. There is always a line that is drawn somewhere but I am someone personally who likes to be left free to live my life [while telling others as to how they should live their lives]. I think the people who scream 'nanny state' are usually the ones who want to be the most prescriptive about the way people live their lives [so I thought I`d play my part as Prime Minister to assist them] .


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Helen Clark's vision for New Zealand

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of vision is "statesmanlike foresight". Here's John Key's vision for New Zealand
My vision is for a more prosperous New Zealand, a New Zealand that delivers opportunities for everyone. A country that is safer. A country that feels more confident about itself and punches above its weight.
Now compare it to Helen Clark's vision for New Zealand.
My vision for New Zealand is for our country to be a place that offers every person who chooses to live here - and they do have a choice - all the opportunity and security in the world and to be fair and inclusive. That's it is a nutshell. So we have to offer opportunity through education, we have to offer the opportunity to work, and we have to deal with all the underpinnings of that - the health system, housing, security in old age, support for children. But we have to ensure that people of very diverse cultures and faiths and beliefs all feel that they have got a stake in New Zealand because they are fairly treated.
I wonder what others think, with reference to the Electoral Finance Act, which is hardly fair and inclusive, with reference to her comments regarding the inappropriateness of Christians in Parliament when United Future got its 2002 swag of MPs, hardly meeting her vision of being inclusive, hardly fair treatment of people of faith and hardly fair and inclusive with retards to Electoral Finance laws.

This is not foresight, therefore its not a vision.

It's a dream.

Time to wake up. We need a Prime Minister that knows what a vision is. John Key does, so it is a start. We don't need a Prime Minster that thinks dreams are visions, and a lie is the truth if you say it a lot and believe it to be so.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Media wins contempt case against solicitor general

The Solicitor- General, David Collins took the media to court and lost today. The case surrounded the publishing of transcripts of conversations police secretly recorded in an investigation into military-style training camps in the Ureweras, more particularly whether the 19 people facing charges would have a fair trial given the publication of the conversations.

The Judges decided that despite the publications, the accused would get a fair trial and so therefore the publication was not in contempt. Breaching suppression orders and being in contempt are two entirely different matters, and I supported the Dominion Post all the way and I'm very pleased it and Fairfax won. I read the whole document that appeared on line regarding this case - it was only online for a day but i downloaded it - and a lot more could have been said.

Finally, didn't some of the information that was published concern matters that the police didn't even prosecute over?

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Winston Peters gets cleared by the SFO

Breaking News (updated 6:45pm )
This has recently broken. It was lawbreaking, but it wasn't fraud. The Serious Fraud Office has cleared New Zealand First of any fraudulent activity.But Helen Clark said tonight that he won't get his portfolios back because other inquiries were still being carried out and the election was close.

The SFO has been investigating the donations given by Sir Robert Jones and the Vela Family to the Spencer Trust, which then ended up with New Zealand First.

The SFO says its investigation has found no fraud, but other laws may have been broken. The issues raised are now matters for other agencies to address.

Peters had said it would take "about five minutes" to exonerate his party. He wasn't exactly exonerated but should be pretty pleased. He said the while SFO investigation was a waste of time.
My advice to the SFO is to go and find some real crooks in the dying days of their organization, which was set up in 1990 to fight serious white collar crime – a task it has failed miserably at.

The only complainant in this sorry episode was a sad little man in a yellow coat, so desperate for attention he used a tawdry stunt to tie up the resources of an agency that should have been investigating serious corporate crime.
Now, lets see Peters discuss Police resources in the same light given its penchant for ticketing speedsters on isolated roads to ensure that quotas are attained while people get mugged, murdered and robbed. Perhaps he'd like to comment on Miss Clark's statement that he wasn't going to get his portfolios back because the election is close.

Next story: Media win's contempt case brought by Solicitor General

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The wages of spin

The Hive notes that Government agencies are spending lots of money on spin, and I recon that's just the salaries. We spend $36.9 million a year on public-sector communications staff and contractors. That is a 27 percent increase over the previous year. The Hive lists 10 of them that spend 20.6m combined. Social Development heads the list. I'm sure that many communications staff don't know how to spin - they get told what to say.

But the wages of spin are greater than the wages in journalism and some of the spinners aren't even trained journalists. Some probably think a comma is a van, a conjunctive adverb is doing something about an eye infection, and a contraction is what pregnant women have.


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Guest post: Forget the policies – bright lipstick and big hair does it for me

Here’s this blog’s first guest post, from my wife Mary, an undecided voter who is looking for the Kiwi equivalent of Sarah Palin.

I’ve been following the run-up to the US election with interest. This has suddenly become a lot more interesting now that Sarah Palin is on the scene as a confident, capable, working mother. I was initially interested, now I’m really interested, because I just like Sarah. I really do. She gets my vote.

I don’t really understand the details of her party’s policies – I know she’s either a Democrat or a Republican – nor do I care. I don’t need to know anything about her policies – I just like Sarah.

If I was living in the US, I’d definitely vote for Sarah. Not McCain, her leader, but Sarah herself (even though she is only second in command).

While out eating our midnight snack of rice risotto with field mushrooms last night, Dave asked me – “So Mary, why would you vote for Sarah?”

Here’s why. She’s a gorgeous woman who’s managed to give birth to five children, one of whom is only a few months old. Sarah is a Mum, like me; she’s also a working Mum, like me.

She’s impressive in the way she manages to turn up looking so glam – I wonder what those last few moments at home are like as she’s exiting stage right into her waiting car. Does her baby ever spew on her shoulder just when she thought she was leaving? How tidy is her lounge? Is she really like real women?

Even if all is immaculate at home – and I’m sure she has a housekeeper to do it - I’d still vote for Sarah. Sarah understands women. She gives us a feeling of strength and courage and optimism for the future. Sarah is confident, happy and her moose-hunting abilities and self-sufficiency sure would come in handy in a crisis. With her bright lipstick and big hair, Sarah is not afraid to be a “hockey mom” one minute, and cradle her baby the next. I’ve been reading about her – that’s how I know she’s worth voting for .

No, I haven’t met Sarah personally. But she is the best PR in politics I’ve seen for a long time.

Unfortunately, there is no Sarah Palin on New Zealand’s voting horizon.

Over here in New Zealand, I’m still working out the nuances of the policies which the politicians and the politicians-yet-to-be are setting before me.

Policies do matter - all politicians have to stand for something. But politicians like Sarah can sway indecisive voters like me. In the face of very little difference between the policies of the various parties, which shade of grey shall I vote for?

At the end of the day, I’ll also weigh up who I just simply like, who I just simply feel is the sort of person that understands real people. Someone who looks the part, presents well, speaks well under pressure. I really wish they had pictures of the candidates on the voting papers – that would make my voting choice a whole lot easier.

I’m going to vote for someone who I think gives me the kind of assurance and confidence that Sarah portrays to so many of her fans in the US.

And if I can’t find that, I’ll find the next best option. Policies don’t really come into it.

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Where NZPA gets stories

It's interesting to see that journalists from the NZPA continue to read the DomPost every morning to get story ideas. Perhaps they should start reading a few more blogs sometime to avoid saying "the Dominion Post reported. The Dominion Post , like the Sunday Star Times, gets some of their story ideas off off the blogs, because they bother to read blogs. Even MPs are writing media releases based on what they read on blogs - Bill English comes to mind there.

I have been contacted several times by reporters regarding posts I have written on the blog. But in the most recent case, I made the initial contact through the blog and it snowballed from there to go national throughout the media and blogs and subsequently international within a few hours.

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Adrian Hilterman is a police prosecutor

It can now be revealed that Adrian Hilterman is a senior police prosector from Whakatane. Well, he may not be for longer.

He was convicted of assault and the suppression order now no longer applies. But nobody bothered to tell his former wife, who wanted the order lifted, until the media contacted her. The effect of lifting a suppression order is worthless until people know who has been suppressed - normally through MSM, blogs, or local gossip - and everyone in Whakatane knows who he is anyway.

Hilterman has been stood down from police since he was charged and now likely to be stood down for good. He will be sentenced on November 3.


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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Most people lose out on Nat's tax cuts

Here's why I don't like National's tax cut package. Its a block of cheese tax cut for most workers - and the size of the block depends on how much you earn.

Someone earning $40,000 a year will get $5 a week less by April 1, 2011, a person on $30,000 will get $7 a week less and someone on $20,000 will get $9 a week less. Every family earning less than $44,000 will get less under National.

That's in 2011 just before the election after next. Most people earn less than $40,000 so although the person on the average wage gets $47k, most people get half that. Also, someone earning $52,000 can get a government subsidy of $1040 a year in KiwiSaver, someone earning $25,000 will only get $500 a year.

But there's good news, if you're retired you'll be better off with National.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Labour's mismanagement of the economy is about to benefit the rich.

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Will Helen Clark laugh at National's tax cuts?

Helen Clark wants people to be wary and laugh at Nationals tax cuts.
Even if it was just at $18 a week more than Labour's package, she said people should still be wary.

But it's Labour we're laughing at. National's tax cuts are $18 a week for those on the average wage. Helen Clark was close to the mark. But is she laughing now?

National has announced its tax cut programme and changes to KiwiSaver are going to fund them. National wants to cut the tax credit to employers, and reduce employees' and employers' minimum contribution to 2 per cent of gross income.In his speech notes Key said the bulk of the cut would come on April 1 2009, meaning a worker on the average wage of $48,000 would be better off by an additional $18 a week above Labour's cuts from that date.

But as you can see here, low paid workers won't get much. That may give Clark something to laugh at(stolen from No Right Turn - bigger chart here for the squinters.) And because I really don't have time to analyse who provides the best deal, so go to No Right Turn. In summary if you`re poor, Labour provides the best deal if you're rich National does - and that's why National's package is bigger. Not only do the rich get more, they get it earlier.

I don't like the package at all.

Heres the calculations from Kiwiblog

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Family First attackers say sorry

I got an email from Family First today. Bob McCoskrie advised that the women in black who targeted his home have had a guilty conscience. They - or their friends - left this anonymous note last night.

I see you didn't take our little prank as it was intended,
just as a little bit of harmless fun, just some plastic and
spare time, I hope you could see the funny side of it...

Never-the-less were truly sorry if this has in anyway, offended
or scared you emotionally physically or mentally...

Were Sorry,

I wonder if they wanted their knives back....

Perhaps they were spooked. Stuff picks up the initial story with the picture I blogged yesterday. The Herald also picked it up.


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