BIG NEWS: 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bloggers, lift your game, not your hit rates

I used to read a lot of blogs. I don't read so many now. Some of the ones I used to read a lot have lost their mojo, others are way better than most of the top 20 of the Tumeke Rankings. I have adjusted my blogroll and, on the top of that blogroll have highlighted 10 good political blogs that I think are are worth reading. The list will change. Some are not on that list because they dont blog often enough. Many are not in the Tumeke top 10.

Here they are in alpha order:

SO, who do you think should be in that list that is not?


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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Political blogging and the media

Early this morning over breakfast, political journalist Fran O’Sullivan addressed a decent size group of people on the topic of the Accidental Empire of Political Blogging.

The hosts were Rural Women NZ – although there were a good number of urban males present.

She was pretty critical of bloggers who blog anonymously – but did not extend this criticism to anonymous MSM editorial writers. She contrasted two left wing blogs, effectively claiming The Standard is left for dead by the authoritative Red Alert blog. Writers on the former blog do so anonymously, the writers of the latter do not. She seemed to think that those who do not blog under their own name cannot be as accountable. But anyone who wants to know who run most of the anonymous political blogs, such as No Right Turn and Roar Prawn, can find out who they are. Indeed, O'Sullivan herself appeared to know who many of them are. She also noted that some bloggers have lost their mojo, while most bloggers can "get away with more" as there is not the same requirement for balance, deadlines or fact checking as in the MSM.

I changed my blog recently and took out my name after getting stalked online after something I wrote.Yet as with the blogger at Ethical Martini,nearly everyone who lands here can quickly find out who I am – and I am certainly accountable for what I write. O’Sullivan even questioned whether a blogger would be sued. I know of only one political blogger who has been threatened with legal action – and if the blogger was with the media, the media outlet would defend any action, not the writer.

O’Sullivan was critical of some of the NZ on Air funded current events shows and questioned why bloggers couldn’t get some funding from a revamped organisation - NZ on Media - and also saw no reason why some bloggers could not get membership of the Press Gallery. After all, university newspapers can, and most of their writing is worse than many political blogs.

But, overall, the mainstream media see political blogs as positive.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

More irrelevant research from the Families Commission

Family First has alerted the media - unfortunately embargoed til Friday - about the latest research from the Families Commission. It has labelled a report on gay and lesbian parenting as unnecessary, advocacy research, a complete waste of taxpayer money, and reveals nothing new that isn't faced by other blended families.

They 're right on one thing. It is advocacy research. So who are the two researchers who compiled this report?

One lesbian researches queer theory from Canterbury University, the other has published many journal articles on challenging heteronormativity and is doing a thesis on experiences of lesbians and gay men who create family through assisted reproductive technologies - no doubt this tax-payer funded research has helped with her research towards her PhD, despite the Blues Skies Fund that funded the research noting that grants do "not fund degrees".

So this is not unbiased research - it is insider advocacy research, conducted by those who say they live lives "outside the norms of heterosexuality" [whats wrong with the word "lesbian"] with a pre-determined agenda - to normalise gay relationships and to advocate for a change in adoption laws, and laws surrounding how many parents can be on birth certificates. Nothing wrong with that, but some people would not be happy with their taxpayers dollars being spent on this.

I'm more concerned that they interviewed just 19 families. And of those interviewed, just three were gay men, one of whom was a multiparent with a lesbian couple in another family, although treated as one family for the purposes of the research.The other couple were not even actively parenting children. Obviously gay men who parent are not as worthy of being researched as are lesbian parents. Why? Perhaps if they had gay men researching this they may have struck a more gender-neutral balance.

The research was done via snowball sampling which, crudely put, is getting an interviewee to recommend their mates. Surely lesbian parents have gay male friends who parent?

And your taxpayer dollars paid for it. Thanks, Peter Dunne.


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Happy 21st, Shihad

Shihad turns 21 this year. They are the local group with the most appearances on the New Zealand singles charts. And they are still going strong, as I put my clock forward for the summer....


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

ACT on Campus and democracy

It is no surprise that ACT on Campus supports voluntary membership of student unions. Even if 51% of students want compulsory membership, the group believe that a " fundamental human right" should not be taken away from the rest of students.

So, I expect a statement from ACT on Campus advising that the select committee listening to submissions on the VSM bill should take no notice of submissions that do not support voluntary student membership of unions - akin to the attitude of Rodney Hide with regards to the Maori seats in the Auckland supercity. Substantive democracy doesn't come into it for these people.

Democracy for ACT on Campus means people should be encouraged to have a say - provided that their views are ignored if they don't agree with ACT policy - with the majority of politicians voting accordingly.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Sue’s legacy

Sue Bradford reminds me a little of Tim Barnett. Both politicians were very effective, listened to people, pissed off the Christian Right, and were easy to get hold of – even though both knew that some of the core values held and promoted I did not agree with. But they would always listen. Both championed members bills and got the Government to adopt them.

The difference between the two of them was that Bradford never had any constituents as she was elected of the back of the list. Her problem was that, unlike the Maori Party and the current Green leadership, she had a distaste for the Right of politics, picked a certain battle at the wrong time and lied about it. Her legacy is the anti-smacking legislation. That legacy and her lefty persuasions was one of the main reasons she was never going to co-lead the Green Party, and, like Barnett, was never going to be a Minister in a Labour-led government. Some have said that Barnett was the most effective MP that never got to be minister. Bradford would come pretty close had she been a little more honest.

Although she worked really hard, the anti-smacking legislation did nothing significant apart from pissing people off and creating more work for parliamentarians,the Electoral Commission, CYFS, the police and people on both sides of the debate such as Family First, Larry Baldock and and Barnardos. Kids are still getting killed. Kids are still getting smacked. Police are doing nothing more than administering parliamentary intent and writing more reports as a result of the anti smacking legislation. Welfare still needs reform.

But now Sue Bradford can put that MA in Chinese she has to good use. Or she can do a PhD.

Oh, and for those of you who are interested, you may remember Bradford got threatened via Twitter a few weeks ago. Henk Van Helmond, whom I outed as the Twitter threatener, has just put up a post with the "real reason Sue Bradford quit", erroneously claiming that his death threat – which the police were investigating – was one of the reasons.


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Sue Bradford to resign from Parliament

Not long ago, Sue Bradford wrote this message on her Twitter account, breaking her own embargo.
Media conference 10am to announce I'm standing down from Parliament at end October - but am not resigning from Greens or political activism
Dave Clendon is the next on the list. He stood against John Key in Helensville but lives in Mt Albert- formerly held by Helen Clark.

Looks like the loss of the leadership to Metiria Turei really hurt. But, despite Bradford being one of the most effective backbenchers, in terms of getting legislation passed, this is the best thing that has happened to the Greens this year. Watch for a rise in the polls for the Greens.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Backbenchers was a lot of fun last night

I was at Backbenchers last night. I haven’t been for a while but decided to go, not even knowing who was on the panel. Parliament was out as members day finished early

It was one of the best ever- so many MPs. There were at least 25 MPs, mainly Labour, but every party was represented apart from Dunne and Anderton. Best comment of the night was when Hone Harawira - in the audience at the time a few metres away from me - was handed the microphone asking for his views on putting the H in Wanganui. His response:
Shane was just telling me that spelling Wanganui without an H is like Cunliffe without a T
David Cunliffe was just behind him. Shane Jones arrived just before the programme started. The pub was in hysterics. It's an old joke, but I think that’s the first time that has been said in any media – let alone live on TV. Backbenchers is broadcast live by TVNZ7. Not sure what Cunliffe thinks of having his name spelled Cunliffte...

Anyway the place was packed, although it started thinning out after 10.30pm. The good thing about Backbenchers is no matter what political stripe you are, everyone gets on. I'm sure I saw Victoria University student president Jasmine Freemantle having a good chin wag with Sir Roger Douglas – their politics are poles apart.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Voluntary Student Membership and freedom of association

As the Government is not going into urgency today, it is members day, and the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill to allow for voluntary membership of student unions will have its first reading. I am in two minds about the bill. I see merits in both arguments.

Many have argued that people should not be compelled to belong to any union. In fact no-one is compelled to belong to a student union. Those who don't want to belong to a student union don't have to study. Those who must study don't have to take part in the services provided by student unions if they are opposed, in principle to membership. I don't see any reason why students can't pay the fee and campaign to opt out of membership.Opting in means having a choice to pay a fee for membership in most cases, opting out means having a choice whether to be a member, thus exercising freedom of association.

But despite the bill's title, VSM proponents -many of who are not students - are not focused on freedom of association nor are they opposed to student union membership per se. It's the fact that students must pay a membership fee that they are opposed to, and it is this that the bill would remove, by amending Section 229 of the Education Act.
6. New section 229 substituted
Section 229 is repealed and the following section substituted:Section 229 is repealed and the following section substituted:
229 Voluntary membership of students’ associations
1) No person, including any tertiary institution or any association of students, may require any student or exert undue influence on any student—

(a) to become or not become a member of any association of students; or

(b) to pay any money to any association of students, or to any other person in lieu of such fees.
So this debate is not about membership, it is not about provision of services, it is about being forced to pay money for the membership that provides those services, and the bill frames this in the context of student union membership, not its financial component.

If section 6 (1)b of the bill was deleted, it would not restrict freedom of association - but the same freedom would not apply to payment of student union fees. So this freedom of association argument is a bit of a red herring when the real issue is the freedom to pay a student union fee. The bill also conflates ACT's concern with freedom of association with student service provision and membership of the university community.

What I find ironic in this debate is the very people who support VSM, predominately students, will read the fully funded student media -Salient, Critic etc, utilise Student Job Search, which is fully funded co-funded by the student union fee with the balance being paid by the Government - or go on Debating Society trips which are funded with a contribution from a membership fee they don't want to pay. They even support compulsory unionism of a kind.

Before you pro VSM debaters get a little horrified, I'll declare that I have bit of time for the Victoria University Debating Society - I took part in a recent debate it organised. So I'm most pleased to advise that their next public debate is going to be on this very issue of VSM on Monday 6.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Old Government Buildings in Pipitea Campus.Entry is free - and you can choose whether you want to be there or not.Political party representatives will be Peter McCaffrey (affirmative - supports VSM) and Max Hardy (negative). Student debaters are Stephen Whittington (affirmative)and Seb Templeton (negative). MPs are David Garrett and one other to be confirmed.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Don't be too hasty to report potential child abuse to CYFS: Children's Commissioner

Children's Commissoner John Angus believes that too many people are ringing up CYFS to report potential child abuse. Speaking at the Family First forum, Angus said that about 100,000 incidents are reported a year to CYFS - a huge increase in recent years - but the number of substantiated cases - around 13,000, nearly half being emotional abuse - has not had a anywhere near corresponding increase.

Instead, Angus says people should offer help, and socially interact more. Those who get involved in community groups such as play groups, sports groups and church communities are less likely to need the assistance of CYFS or draw the attention of the police -consequently limiting the number of referrals, and possibly the number of substantiated cases of child abuse - most of which are emotional abuse. Emotional abuse, Angus said at the Family First Forum, caused the most long term harm and results often from " bad choices about the company ( parents) keep and the relationships they form".

So Angus wants to support people to take action - not simply to ring CYFS as a last resort. So who is to run the parenting courses that have the potential to reduce family violence. Groups like Parents Inc. Such groups get no government funding at all, and at yesterdays Family First Forum, John Key was asked, for the second consecutive year, whether he supports - and would now lead - a Government that would provide some funding for groups such as Parents Inc.

I think you can guess what the response was. The verbal equivalent of a middle finger - but said in a very polite manner with a trademark smile.

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If you can't be a stable parent - don't have children

There. The statement is made. By Phil Goff. Yesterday.If you cant be a stable parent, don't have children. We as a community have to find ways to protect our children and give them the best start in life.. By implication, this means that if you cant give the kids the best start in life, don't give them a start at all.

It is appalling that 12,000 CYF kids are found to be abused and neglected every year - this really does have serious consequences. We should be outraged, we have to look at what we are doing as a community.

Oh, and abortion is not the answer. It is better to prevent conception than abortion, particularly when 2000-3000 people suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome(each year) . So kids, be careful when you have sex., don't get anyone pregnant - and if kids go off the rails don't blame CYFS. The main problem is the parents, not CYFS -and part of the context is the increasing stress in families.

If we reduce the number of disadvantaged kids we will reduce the number of criminals of tomorrow.

Thank you for reading. Your comments are welcome.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

PM says it is ok to smack your kids

I was at the Family First forum in Auckland today. John Key was one of the speakers. He said it was "ok to smack your kids", and the law is administered "the way I want it to be". Therefore in some situations it is fine to break the law provided it is the intent of parliament that the law be disregarded, particularly as Key himself has said that the law is a "dogs breakfast" and that " no-one knows what 'correction' or 'good care and parenting' is".

I do.

Key, commenting on administration of the anti-smacking legislation by Child, Youth and Family, said that "CYFS would not say 'do not smack a child'". Meaning that CYFS workers, although now told not to investigate cases of light smacking, would never tell parents that they could not smack.

Unfortunately for Key there was a woman in the audience - who so happened to be sitting behind me - who is on a CYFS care and protection panel. She told Key that social workers were in fact telling parents that they should not be smacking their kids. Key said he had a problem with that, and it needs to change.

He should talk to CYFS bosses about this, rather than telling family organisations that things need to change and doing absolutely nothing about ensuring that change occurs.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baldock's petition question has been acknowledged

Larry Baldock's petition question has been formally acknowledged. It is:
Should Citizens Initiated Referenda seeking to repeal or amend a law be binding?
Binding on WHOM? On this wording the Government can ignore it on the grounds that the question does not specify who or what is to be bound.

OK, lets take a wild guess and say binding refers to the Government. But even if referenda are binding, isn't it worth stating what you want the Government to do - like state in the question how referenda should direct the government to change the frigging law?

Like, the question should address HOW the government should respond.

The Clerk of the House is now inviting comment on this wording.Send three hard copies to:
The Clerk of the House of Representatives
Parliament House
Parliament Buildings

The deadline for comments on the wording of the question is 5pm on Friday, 16 October 2009.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smacking defence was used for brain damage:Greens

I have seen some correspondence from the Green Party regarding the section 59 referendum.
If the question asked in the referendum had been “Should a parent be able to avail themselves of a defence of “reasonable force” in the correction of their child in cases where they have caused brain damage to their child” would you have answered “Yes”? Would you seriously want this situation “decriminalised” again? Because that’s what Section 59 was being used for and why police were becoming increasingly reluctant to prosecute serious cases of child assault.
Brain damage. What will the Greens think of next - stab wounds?

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It's all about Rodney, isn't it

Had to laugh when I saw this headline Super city to include Rodney. Rodney Hide said we have listened and we have acted. What rot.


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Monday, September 14, 2009

Anderton wants to stop current MPs beingfunded for standing in by-elections - but he claims $190.33 per constituent seen

Jim Anderton wants current MPs to be prevented from wasting taxpayers money in contesting by-elections and getting another member from their party in Parliament on the list should they win. He has drafted a private members bill to that effect.

Anyone want to draft a private members bill which will prevent people from joining two political parties at the same time so purely to prevent a certain party leader losing $13,000 for being a leader of a party[ and a spokesperson for another party] that doesn't actually do anything but get a further $164,000 of taxpayers money for party "expenses", when many of the active members are supporters of a different party?

Anderton claims that the $164,000 is for the “1500 constituents who pass through” his office each year. That's $109.33 per constituent, most of whom he wouldn't even see.

Perhaps another bill can be drafted that ensures that registered political parties who want to stand candidates for Parliament must also stand list candidates - and they cannot be "spokespersons" for other political parties.


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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Labour and reconfiguring breaking MMP

Post updated Monday
Did I hear correctly that Labour is discussing, in the context of electoral reform, whether the electorate/list seat mix should be reconfigured by reducing the numbers of list MPs, and replacing them with electorate MPs?

If so,the Greens will not be supporting this "SM/MMP" measure.

Here's why.

The Greens, who rely on list seats, will lose have a lower proportionate number of list MPs. Labour and National will of course lose more list MPs, but they'd be replaced by electorate MPs, probably from the land of the "wrong white crowd". Fewer women, fewer Maori, and the potential for overhang within major parties if the number of list MPs is too low.

update Actually its worse than that. I've since been following the discussion at Red Alert, after I got wind of the proposal and felt it stunk to high heaven. Delegates at the Labour Party conference were discussing the reduction of the size of electorates, by increasing electorate numbers, leading to the decrease in the number of list MPs. Figures of 90 electorates and 30 list MPs have been suggested. There will not be the "potential" for overhang, it will be a reality, and I can't understand why Labour is even suggesting this. Lianne Dalziel is even suggesting that such a move will retain proportionality! Granted, she did mention an 80/40 split, but if the minor parties were to get a substantial share of the vote she`d be wrong in saying the proposal retains proportionality.

In reality the proposal could perversely benefit Labour by giving the party a handful of overhang seats to make up for the lack of list seats.Even more so than it would benefit National. I think it is a worse proposal than the Supplementary Member system that the party opposes. Assuming the intended size of Parliament remains constant, overhangs will be a reality if the minor parties, with a system of more than 80 electorate seats, get a large combined vote of over 30 percent - and they did in 2002, in fact they got a bigger vote than National.

This proposal is something that should be rejected outright in any discussion of our electoral system. Back to the drawing board, folks - and this time, engage your brains.

And I see from this mornings paper that Labour also wants to prevent minor parties that get one electorate seat from getting more than one seat unless it gets more than 5 percent of the party vote. Another move intended to screw minor parties of the Right. Either that, or Labour simply gets its ideas from the media.

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Why National supports Supplementary Member and the Greens oppose it

Heres how the New Zealand House of Representatives would have looked under the Supplementary Member electoral system, with the current seat numbers in brackets for comparison.

New Zealand National Party - 65 seats (58)
New Zealand Labour Party - 40 seats (43)
Māori Party -6 seats (5)
Green Party - 4 seats (9)
Act New Zealand - 3 seats (5)
Jim Anderton's Progressive - 1 seat (1)
United Future New Zealand - 1 seat (1)

National would have governed alone, may as well have had FPP, with no bridle on executive power.

If the five percent threshold was to be removed:
Under SM, only National and Labour would be affected, both losing a seat to New Zealand First. Under MMP, National would have 3 fewer seats, Labour 2 , the Greens 1 , with Act getting an extra seat. Three additional parties will enter parliament: New Zealand First with 5 seats, with Bill and Ben and the Kiwi Parties gaining one seat each.

Had the 2008 election been under SM, Act would have still have got more seats than NZ First- even without a threshold - and with 10,000 fewer votes.

So, does anyone else think that, in the context of discussing electoral systems, a reduction of the MMP threshold would be preferable to the adoption of the SM system, with or without a threshold.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

WINZ pulls,changes, and relists Telco vacancy

Last week Labour list MP Darien Fenton was amazed that Work and Income advertised a Telecommunications equipment service technician vacancy on behalf of Visionstream given that hundreds of Telco lines engineers have been made redundant.

One job was advertised, and Fenton was intimating that it should not have been, and she wondered what the Minister would have to say about it. Fenton was also unaware at the time that WINZ had put it on hold. When she found out that it was on hold, meaning no one could then apply for it, she assumed it was because WINZ knew it should never have listed the job in the first place, saying "I do keep close to the ground on these issues". No mention of the job possibly being filled by a migrant.

She was wrong. Perhaps she was so close to the ground she had her head in the sand.

She now appears unaware that the job has now been taken off hold, [her staff certainly were] meaning people can apply for it. The vacancy is here, but it has a significant change to its its earlier notification It is now a job that is an 'Owner/Operator' role with all the usual setup costs and variable income contract rates.

Last week it wasn’t. It was advertised as a full-time job. No mention of setup costs and variable income contract rates or the fact that a migrant may be attracted to it.

Perhaps Fenton could have found out why the job was pulled rather than "wondering what the Minister will have to say about it". Perhaps she could find out why the job was initially advertised the way it was, given its changed wording.

Fenton is not as "close to the ground on these issues" as she appears to be. That much is certainly obvious.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

More on the MMP referenda

It will be interesting to see the next stage of Cabinets plans for the two stage referenda on the electoral system. The first stage, at the 2011 election, asks whether we should change our electoral system, the next stage provides options for change should change be desired. How many options? We don't know. And nothing will change until at least 2017.

Now I think I have this right. Take this scenario, which appears to be the way Cabinet is heading. Let's say the first referendum gets a 45/55 split with 55 percent supporting a change of electoral system.This was the split that led to the introduction of MMP in 1986. Significantly the 45 percent minority would prefer the retention of MMP than change to another electoral system. But lets say the second stage has a run off between three electoral systems - say if 35 percent vote STV, 25 percent vote SM, 40 percent vote FPP, then FPP would be the electoral system, right?

Wrong. MMP would. Despite more than 50 percent initially voting for a change from MMP. A referendum needs more than a 50 percent vote for a specified electoral system to be changed.

In the first referendum 45% wanted to keep MMP which is higher than the numbers that voted for the highest polling electoral system in the second stage. Not one voting block got over 50%, so that will be a complete waste of money. Even if MMP was one of the options in the latter referendum, as Graeme Edgeler notes, MMP will be the declared electoral system even if it got the smallest proportion of the vote, if no other system got over over 50 percent of the vote.

That would also be the wrong way to go about this*. It just won't work. MMP supporter David Farrar suggests the first referendum be done in two parts. The first part will ask if we should change our electoral system, the second part which system we would change it to should changed be desired, with the most popular option being run off in the second referendum at the following election.

So, on the above figures, if the first 2011 referendum combined the above two stages,in 2014 there could be a be a referendum between several electoral systems. Unless that referendum was conducted under STV rules*, on the above figures this will be either MMP v FPP(the current system and top alternative) or FPP v STV(the two favoured alternatives). If it was to be the latter, 45 percent of the population will be unhappy as their preferred option was MMP. If it was MMP v FPP, it will technically be a rehash of the first referendum, the only difference being which of the 55 percent that wanted change would support FPP, assuming all the 45 percent who voted against change still support MMP. Some of the 55 percent may have wanted a change to STV. If enough that did voted for MMP because they wanted at least some proportionality, the current system would be retained.

So there has to be two questions at the first referenda. In the second referenda, an electoral system other than MMP must have 50 percent of the vote for an electoral system change - and the more options there are the less likely that will happen. But if the Government follows this format, some people are not going to be able to vote for their favoured electoral system after being asked what their preference was in the second stage of the first referenda.
*unless the second referendum was conducted by ranking ala STV rules -which it looks like it can't be unless they first pass a regulation.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

WOW check it out - it's 9/9/09, 9:09pm

Whoa! Right now.
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Baldock petition set to be approved by the clerk

I have been advised that Larry Baldock has submitted the question, "should Citizens Initiated Referenda seeking to amend or repeal a law be binding", to the clerk, who has indicated that it will be approved for a petition. Should the petition be successful and a referenda is called on the question as currently worded we would have wasted up to $18m on referenda for no substantial gain. If the votes go the way Baldock wants them to, and the Government agrees, any referenda to change or amend any law will be binding even if only 5 percent of registered voters take part - that's hardly a mandate. Yet referenda seeking to create a new laws won't be binding.

Consequently, this means, hypothetically, that that if a successful referendum was sought on "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand", under such a law, the Government can simply repeal or amend the law how it wants to, because the question does not specifically direct how the Government should amend or repeal the law. It merely has to ensure that only smacks as part of "good" parental correction have to be addressed by an amendment or repeal of the law .

Meaning the term "correction" in the act can merely be amended to "correction that is not part of good correction", or similar wording.. And who decides what is "good", and if it is part of correction? Because, under this scenario, if a smack it is not part - even a minor part - of correction - it will still be a criminal offence as currently. And only "good" correction that is reasonable would be illegal.

Another example raised by the Beretta blog. Imagine living in Germany, where home schooling families are treated like criminals, parents are imprisoned and children removed from the household if they were schooled from home. If the majority in a referendum - say 2.6 percent of the voting population in a 5 percent vote - supported an amendment of existing education law, cementing the right of authorities to immediately and permanently remove children from families suspected of homeschooling, should the state be bound to obey?

Although I support the motives behind this approach - to have the government adhere to the wishes of the people in certain circumstances - the petition question needs to be reworded to achieve the aim of the petitioner, I would have thought. Or perhaps the aim of this petition is merely publicity for the petitioner, not legislative change.


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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

No members day again tomorrow

Parliament is going into urgency because it has some bills to pass. In other words for no particular reason but convenience. Not everyone is happy about it, because the bills that are being looked at are not of an urgent nature. As a result there will be no members day tomorrow, again and two fewer bills to deal with,.If they put parliament in to urgency after members day that wouldn't suit because then the members wouldnt have a weekend.

But sacrificing members day so often hardly sounds like democracy in action. But most people wont care - they've never heard of members day.


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The review of the law parliamentary intent on smacking

The Government has announced the terms of reference for policies and procedures used by Police and CYFS in implementing parliamentary intent on smacking offences. You can read about it here.The terms of reference:
To review New Zealand Police and Child, Youth and Family policies and procedures, including the referral process between the two agencies, in order to identify any changes that are necessary or desirable in the interest of ensuring that:
1. good parents are treated as Parliament intended under the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007.
2. provisions of the law (both criminal and under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989) are applied to those who abuse children.
So, child abusers are to be treated with reference to the ( already existing for years) law, and smacking investigations will be reviewed with reference to parliamentary intent. This is a review of policies and procedures in line with parliamentary intent, based on data surveyed by the MSD CEO and police commissioner, who head the departments that have drafted up the procedures and have preparing the data for the review. Joining them is No voter Nigel Latta (and the Public Address people are NOT impressed at all with that). Latta has said that he doesnt support smacking parents being subject to criminal prosecution or investigation.

The government does not want to see parents criminalised, nor does it believe the act intends for this to occur. But acts of parliament don't have " intent" - Parliament does and the terms of reference conflate the two because the government doesn't want to give the appearance that the wording of the Act does not state parliaments intent. "Parliamentary intent" was not passed, an Act of Parliament was. That is why it is not a review of the law.

Latta can be as free and independent as he wants to - and agree with the departmental heads because he is looking at the data, which has no reference to his views on the law. If their report - due December 1 - comments on the law, it will be with reference to parliamentary intent. So the law is working well as parliament intended. Furthermore the report will note that police and CYFS procedures are also working well - because nobody is being prosecuted in court for light smacking. So no substantive changes will necessary

Latta is also not talking to lobbyists or the media about the review. He says:
I wish to announce that I have just appointed my cat, Jerry, as my new Chief Press Secretary. Please direct all media inquiries to him.
Well at least he has a sense of humour.And he drinks lots of coffee, which is good.


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Monday, September 07, 2009

Keith Ng is owned

I have been following the very public spat between Keith Ng and the new website Gotcha, featuring Whale Oil and (for about five minutes) Catcus Kate. In brief, Ng decided to investigate the Gotcha site, and said it was hosted in Belize. Catcus Kate was a bit pissed off about that so she changed one of her Belize companies to Keith Ng Limited and you can click on the image to enlarge the details of the change.

Gives new meaning to "arranging one's affairs".


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From today, consider Big News a blog on the left of the political spectrum. Left of centre at least but sliding leftwards fast. Change your blogrolls, people. Take me off the list of the VRWC.

The governments referendum on MMP will be binding with 51% of the vote. It wants to have it at the election to secure a higher vote, so as to get the mandate.It looks like the two stage referendum is done in such a way that we won't even know what the options for the second stage are before we have completed the first vote. I might have to have to vote Labour at the next election, as a protest vote to National.

This electoral system referendum is the main reason I did not vote National (not that I would have voted for them anyway).

If Labour is supportive of MMP, I`m backing Labour. For the first time ever [although I may reconsider if they do silly things like this ]. National's John Key's preference for the electoral system is Supplementary Member (SM) which most have never heard of and probably won't get the opportunity to understand should it be an option in the second referendum. If we ever get First Past the Post, I`ll have to vote for a Labour candidate for the first time in my life to make my vote count - and even then it will only count if Peter Dunne retires or if I move out of the electorate.

If anyone wants to campaign for a fair and representative electoral system, this blog will gladly promote that campaign. I'm sick and tired of National acting like we have a First Past the Post electoral system - but wanting to govern with primarily middle class older white men under that unrepresentative electoral system.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Families Commissioner lied on television this morning

Chief Families Commissioner Jan Pryor was on on Q&A this morning. She was asked about the smacking referendum. She said
JAN When it came to the recent referendum we took no stance whatsoever, we made it very clear that we were not encourage (sic) people to vote either way on that referendum.
Yet in the latest Families Commission publication Family voice Jan Pryor, in talking about progress in encouraging people to support the smacking legislation said this:
However some of this progress could be undermined by the citizens initiated postal referendum ... on the question " should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand. Should anyone be hit as a way to change their behaviour - let alone a small child...why should it be okay to hit children?
The article was also in The NZ Herald.

While stopping short of advocating a "yes" vote, that sounds like taking a stance, to me. A very public and purposeful one.Is Jan Pryor a government-funded liar?

Oh and also she was asked about the Maori seats. The Familes Commission, in its submission to the select committee, supported the Maori seats on the Auckland City Council. Pryor said the position was a " contestable view that we tend to base on evidence". But the rationale? Because how Auckland is governed affects families.

No kidding. No evidence either.

Then she said that the Commission led and mostly funded the “It's Not Okay campaign”. I’m sure the Families Commission didn’t “ mostly fund” this – and it was primarily led by the Ministry of Social Development. But perhaps Russell Brown will be able to confirm this given that he was one of the faces of the campaign.


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Who said this. And when?

"Democracy is too important to be left to the politicians. We say it is far better to rely on the commonsense of ordinary people to make decisions on the important issues facing New Zealand. Why? Because politicians simply cannot be relied on to do the right thing and to act in accordance with the wishes of the majority. They have forgotten that they should be the trusted servants of the people. They must face the consequences of their memory loss.

"We desperately need checks and balances and a system that makes politicians accountable. We simply have to trust the people and to rely on their good will and commonsense. In a democracy people have the right to govern themselves and take matters into their own hands when their MPs fail them. When people elect a government to safeguard their society, their security, culture, their liberty and their future, their elected representatives must listen to them. Democracy is lost when that elected government and its officials fail to hear the voices of the people. It is then that ordinary people have a moral duty to rise up and restore democracy themselves."

Clue: this person wanted to introduce binding Citizens Initiated Referenda, reduce the size of Parliament, and reduce the number of MPs in Cabinet to 14. Ths person is also a fairly well known hypocrite.
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Saturday, September 05, 2009

What on earth is Larry Baldock thinking?

Larry Baldock wants another referendum. So he is going to launch a new petition. The question on the petition will aim to change the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993.

The wording of the question would focus on the issue of whether citizens initiated referenda seeking the repeal or amendment of any law passed by parliament should be binding. It's likely to just piss people off. Even if the petition gets enough signatures there's one small problem.

The referendum calling for some referenda to be binding will itself not be binding.The Government can -and should - ignore it too. If Baldock wants to waste his time chasing his tail, good luck to him. The implications of legislation of this nature do not bear thinking about.


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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Opening and closing police stations

Labour's Clayton Cosgrove is moaning that police stations are about to be closed. He is commenting on a cabinet paper he got through the OIA that is looking at cost cutting in police. He notes that already 340 cars have been chopped from the police fleet.

That`ll stop six police cars attending a smacking case then, won’t it - and stop three police cars from attending a school after someone gets smacked. Cosgrove says police minister Judith Collins has some serious explaining to do.

So she did some explaining and explained that National have opened five police stations and is opening a sixth. She also explained that Labour had dozens of police stations earmarked for closure

Pity the NZ Herald didn’t know that.Perhaps it should have looked at this media release before writing this story on the closure of police stations.Now that Collins has responded with the announcement of the opening of five police stations this year, I wonder if the Herald will just updated it with quotes from the media relase. I bet you it doesn't know that that the the new Christchurch police station is merely replacing one from Sydenham.

update The Herald has updated its story. Oh dear. Quotes from a media relase. No investigation whatsoever.

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