Len Brown has been censured for the texts, the hotel rooms, the inappropriate reference and all the "fallout" of his extra-marital affair with a young appointee. But what's the political fallout going to look like and can he stand again?
It's all just rather pathetic really, isn't it? Yes, I'm talking about Len Brown. From the affair itself to the Auckland mayor's response and on to the council's limited options for censure, pathetic seems to me the best word to sum up the whole shooting match.
EQC is broken and needs to be rebuilt. Or does it? If the complexity of the situation, some complaints and conflict are to be expected, right?
Let’s look at the facts. The first Canterbury earthquake occurred over 3 years ago. In February it will be three years since the second, but the rebuild has barely begun.
You can all relax now - it looks like you'll still be able to wear your favoured political party lapel badge next election day. Because I know you were really worried about that.
Back in October, in response to a proposal in the Electoral Amendment Bill to extend the ban on election day advertising to encompass rosettes, ribbons and lapel badges worn by individuals, I issued a ringing
The laudable, lamentable and laughable in sport this year
First, what were the highlights? We have the Black Sox men’s softball team winning their 6th World Title in Auckland at the start of 2013.
Brilliant and winsome teenager, Lydia Ko, won in just her second tournament as a professional, the rather curiously named Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan. The world is her lobster, as Arthur Daley once said.
UN launches $6.5 billion aid appeal for Syria; North Korean economy unaffected by execution of Kim Jong-un's closest advisor; Japanese businesses brace for sales-tax increase; Ukraine protesters return to central Kiev; Bangladesh violence kills four; and more
Top of the Agenda: UN Launches Record Aid Appeal for Syria
Some times in politics, although not often, things are just what they seem to be. Just ask that nice Colin Craig
It's one of the oldest cliches in politics - that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it's not. Voters will vote on that perception and so it's the only thing that really matters.
Parliament is planning to pass a law saying how much freedom its members (and others involved in its proceedings) have from legal liability. What's more, it's telling the courts that they've stuffed that issue up.
John Key can explain away his own history, but he needs to pay more respect to New Zealand's by expressing an opinion and backing down on his funeral invitations
I was 11 years old when the Springboks came to New Zealand in 1981; it is my first political memory and had a profound effect on me as it did so many. Just not on John Key. Remarkably, a man who has said he wanted to Prime Minister from age 10 was dislocated from one of the defining moments of modern times.
If Andrew's constitutional blog leaves you wanting more, you won't be disappointed by this post and its attempt to spark some debate
While Andrew has written a post superior to anything I can offer, I too am going to post on the report released yesterday by the Constitutional Advisory Panel... because it's my blog and I can. And anyway, it's the first government review I've ever submitted to, so I'm interested. And a little disappointed.
The Government's seemingly never-ending constitutional review has finally delivered its report. Which is a good excuse for me to go back and test how accurate my predictions about its content were.
The Government has just released the results of the "Constitutional Review" it agreed to hold as a part of the National-Maori Party governance agreement. I can't link you to it yet, because it's embargoed until 3pm today.
Tweeting who to vote for at a by-election on the day the poll is being held is silly, but it isn't exactly the worst thing that any politician has ever done. Hell, it may not even be illegal.
So the whole David Cunliffe storm-in-a-Twitter-cup thing needs settled. Here's how I see it.
First of all, he was dumb to send out the tweet. Especially if, as I understand it, the Electoral Commission specifically warned candidates and parties not to tweet on the polling day. Sometimes you just need to put the phone down and walk away.
Who knows whether John Banks will be found guilty next year, only the courts can decide. But in the court of public opinion, a trial is as bad as a conviction
It all comes back to two cheques and a mattress. And now John Banks is paying a high price for the donation he received from Kim Dotcom during the 2010 Auckland mayoral election, having announced that his political career will sputter out over the next year.
Three important public law developments fell on the one day. That makes posting a bit of a challenge!
Three pretty interesting public law developments took place today. (I fully recognise that attaching the descriptor "interesting" to the phrase "public law developments" is an open invitation to ridicule, but I stand by the claim!)
Of six by-elections since 2008, only one, Mt Albert, looks anything like Christchurch East in the scale of the Labour result.
It's no coincidence those two seats had similar results: They were planned and run on the same organisational template. None of the other by-elections were.
When you look at election campaigns, you can always tell the difference between the old pros and the amateurs. The amateurs usually talk about messaging strategy and images. The pros pay most attention to the nuts and bolts: How many people were working in the campaign? How many signs did they put up? How much paper did they deliver?
Is this government's commitment to oil a bit like investing big in New Zealand Post? And what will our children make of the choices we're making now?
As deepsea drilling started off the Raglan coast this week, it's a good moment (finally) to look at the other side of the debate, as promised in my previous post.
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu has been knocked back into his place by the world's most powerful countries.... including his key friend the US, so what does he do? He takes out his anger on the Palestinians of course
When Netanyahu was humiliated by the deal between the UNSC permanent members plus Germany (P5+1), and Iran he could not hide his anger. He came out spitting, even at his best friend, the US.
The drilling and the protesting has begun... But amongst all the rhetoric, scaremongering and promises of outrageous fortune, lies a prety simple question we should all be asking
The summer of protest has begun. This week the Greenpeace-led Oil Free Seas flotilla headed out to one of two deep-sea sites to be explored by Texan oil giant Anadarko, this one off Raglan, the other off Canterbury. The protest is ramping up because the industry is doing the same, with New Zealand now getting a proper once-over by the global oil and gas industry.
One new seat added in Auckland. But that single proposed seat has ramifications that will ripple across the city with some surprising winners and losers
The new draft electoral commission boundaries for Auckland would add just one new seat but magically create two, and in doing so clip suburbs from here and there for a rather different patchwork city.
The Representation Commission this morning announced:
When Russel Norman repeated in parliament the words of a Filipino climate negotiator there were howls of outrage, but we listen to the pleas to end the madness we will only see more devastation
Survivors in the worst affected areas of the Philippines, where the monster typhoon Haiyan struck, describe their experience with disbelief – winds of over 300kph and a storm surge five metres high that carried all before it. Haiyan was the most powerful, most horrific storm to make landfall since records began.
David Farrar is very angry that a political party is unilaterally trying to game electoral law for its own benefit. It's good to see him being so critical of National's behaviour with respect to the reform of MMP.
Labour's Ian Lees-Galloway has had his Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds Amendment Bill) drawn from the ballot.
In which I respond to Andrew's post responding to Claire column and add my thoughts on how history repeats... or not
I love viewing elections through the lens of history; the Americans do it so well and thoroughly, I wish there was more of it here. On that basis I really like what Claire Robertson's done in her Herald column – looking for patterns in the past. There's much truth to be found there.
A peek inside the TPP negotiations show that New Zealand is holding its line on some major issues, as you'd expect. But let's not pretend that these aren't incredibly complex negotiations in which something will have to give
Nicky Hager has a story in today's Herald revealing, thanks to Wikileaks, some of the divisions with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
Why National could save itself by losing some support, how John Key is strategising for next year, where Colin Craig's Conservatives fit and what it means for the other minor parties...
On Firstline this morning John Key was talking up National's many coalition options at next year's election, as if he was a man who could walk into the election shop and help himself in the pick n' mix section. It's not going to be that easy, but it could be easier than some people think as the vote on the right fragments.
Kerry says Iran rejected nuclear deal; Philippines typhoon leaves thousands desperate for aid; Bo Xilai supporters form new political party in China; Syria opposition agrees to peace talks; EU and US resume trade talks; and more
Top of the Agenda: Kerry Says Iran Rejected Nuclear Deal
Should John Tamihere and Willy Jackson get forced off the air? An anguished liberal wrings his hands.
The whole Auckland rape ring (or, just perhaps (but I doubt it), fantasist Auckland rape ring) issue is like some giant chaos theory simulation, where a hurricane in the lives of some predated upon women in one place produces a butterfly's wing beat in the Radio Live broadcast studi
It’s been exclusively men, so far, who have been trying to persuade me of my flawed understanding of rape politics since I posted about the issue, and Willie and JT, on Friday. Left wing bloggers Giovanni Tiso and Egonomist just tweeted that I’m ‘crazy’ and my views ‘embarrassing’.
I’ve encountered three types of response.
The horrible truth that young men have been allowed to carry on raping under the watchful eye of the police is bad enough. The story has also picked the scab off some ugly politics.
I am disgusted, most of all, with the men who raped the young women.
I am disgusted with the police for not investigating properly when they had a complaint.
The Roastbusters club has again exposed police failings when it comes to sexual assaults. Sadly, that's hardly news and the police response to the revelations shows why
Power. And its misuse. It's what rape is all about and this week that's been apparent for all to see. Teenage boys in west Auckland have presented themselves online, in videos, and presumably around their neighbourhoods, as strutting powerbrokers on their patch by dint of their ability to bully young girls into sex.
Apparently multiple complainants about sexual offending by men who then brag about it on the internet isn't enough to get before the courts. But there'll be no hesitation in prosecution if you dare to make a pretend poster criticising the Police's attitude towards such crimes!
There's been enough blogosphere coverage of the ongoing investigation of a group of young repeat rapists in Auckland that I haven't felt the particular need to vent on it. Lots of other people are better at discussing the issues, and I didn't have much extra to add to them.
Toronto's Rob Ford takes the cake - well in his case the rock - in current mayoral scandals following his blubbering confession that while he has smoked crack cocaine while hammered, he's still by far the best person to run the city. Really?
How absolutely un-Canadian is a crack-smoking, lying drunk for a mayor who, by the way, just happens to hang around with drug dealers to the degree that he has been under secret police surveillance for months?
Is there anyone out there with a spare few million and a heart for the public interest? If so, maybe there's still a deal to be done with the NZ Listener
The announcement today that APN's New Zealand Magazines has been sold is a decision years in the making. It's long been inevitable that APN would at some stage slice off the small appendage that is its magazine division, the question was always 'to whom' and whether it might be able to spark a new model of media ownership in New Zealand.
What defines a man's life? Is it the titles he holds, the wealth he accumulates or some other symbol of status that his contemporaries hold in high esteem? And how do we decide if those symbols of status are still deserved?
John Key has announced that Sir Douglas Graham will retain his Knighthood, despite his conviction for making false statements in a company prospectus becoming final. This is, on balance and considering all aspects of the issue, a good thing.
Does the right to free speech extend to shouting at a woman to take off her burqa in a supermarket? If not, why not?
We (where "we" are nice liberal folks who share in the positive values of tolerance and respect for others) like to think New Zealand has become a more diverse society, in which people have become much more accepting of difference and display greater willingness to live with the life choices of others.
Multiculturalism. Same sex marriage. Legalisation of prostitution. And so on.
It's a shame the "Tui Billboard" meme has well and truly jumped the shark (as, indeed, has that latter meme itself), because John Banks' "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" line is a prime contender.
John Banks has a message that he wants the New Zealand public to hear. It's a message he repeats every time a microphone enters his immediate vicinity. I suspect that if you were to sneak into his bedroom as he lay sleeping and dangle a dictaphone over his face, you'd hear him automatically muttering the words in a purely Pavlovian response.
A certain blogger whose name need not be mentioned in polite company may have wounded Auckland's mayor. But "retired accountant" (amongst other things) Graham McCready has sunk a pretty big harpoon into the side of John Banks. Now, can he wriggle off it?
So, John Banks is going to a full trial on a charge that he knowingly filed a false return of his donations for the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign by claiming as "anonymous" donations he full well knew the source of.
A quick word of praise for Eleanor Catton. Hers is a story well worth following to its end.
Because the Len Brown story is such an overdone and familiar trope, it's worth pausing to praise Eleanor Catton for winning the Booker Prize (OK, OK, Man Booker Prize) for a truly original and freshly told one.
Len Brown's mistake was in making it impossible for us not to know he made it. We need more from our politicians.
So there's been a (shock! horror!) revelation that a late-fifties man who fills an office of some power and public attention has had an affair with a (much) younger woman who felt a frisson of excitement at the relationship's illicit nature and was flattered by the attention that he lavished on her.
Is the new rule that anyone holding public office who has an affair must resign? Come on. That’s setting the bar ridiculously high. It would mean resignations in parliament and in councils across the country.
I don’t want our politicians to be super human, different to the rest of us. I do expect them to be honest, good at the job, and politically courageous. The prurient focus of some outraged bloggers and journalists while they salivate over the sordid details of this affair is nothing short of voyeuristic. For others it’s political maliciousness, posing as moral outrage.
Has a line been crossed by the reporting of Len Brown's affair? Are the private lives of all politicians now fair game?
There's another word to be had about the Len Brown affair. And that's 'the unwritten rule' that has been discussed as existing between journalists and politicians in this country. The question is whether it is in the process of being re-written.
Len Brown is seriously damaged as Auckland mayor, but he's not the only one to have had his flaws laid out in public today. Problem is, his abuse of power puts his job at risk because of Bevan Chuang's council role
It was a woeful today for the two men to have most recently worn the title of Auckland Mayor.
Thousands of New Zealanders voted this week that the police were losing their trust. Could it be because the police behave as if they're the pope? (And not in the 'without sin' sense)
I've gotta say I was a bit surprised. On The Vote this week, 56 percent of our voting viewers said the police were losing our trust, with 44 percent siding against the moot. I'd expected those numbers to be round the other way and I'd suggest it tells those at police national HQ – once memorably called "bullshit castle" – that they've got some work to do to earn back that trust.
The individual is King here in America. Federal government is closed, and so far you’d hardly notice. Turns out people can live without the services of the Poet Laureate for a week. No-one has taken to the streets in an American ‘Arab Spring’. The heroes of this revolt are nicely tucked up in bed at night, and applauded by many for saying ‘Freedom is the right of the healthy not to pay for the sick.’
They really really hate Obamacare. Ok, I’m in Georgia and the South where Republicans rule, but its only by being here (visiting my Obama-voting family) that I start to understand how Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the defacto Che Guavara of this Tea Party revolution could bring government to a grinding halt.
Did you know MPs are considering making it an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000, to wear a green ribbon in your hair on election day? If you think this is silly, you'd better tell them so ... soon.
I've posted on the issue of the Government's proposed further tightening of controls on election day campaigning a couple of times already. It's a slightly niche topic, so I promise this will be the last time I raise it.
How ironical for the 2013 UNGA which showcased the first thaw between Iran and the US in 34 years, to wind up in New York today with a full on excoriation from Israel. All it did was reveal Israel's anger that diplomacy may yet solve the Iranian nuclear stand-off.
And so the UN General Assembly drew to a close with the desperate efforts of Israel’s Prime Minister to scare the world away from its cautious but discernible wish to explore a thaw with Iran rather than blowing it up.
The Corrections Department removes opiate pain killers, ritalin, and even anti-depressants from prisoners. It uses a 'mimimum dental services policy'. This causes intense suffering for thousands of prisoners. So does it amount to torture?
Many New Zealanders seem to believe that those who end up in prison get what they deserve. I can only suspect they're unaware the Corrections Department uses a variety of cruel, inhumane and degrading practices on a daily basis, which induce intense pain and suffering for people in prison. These practices are a form of psychological torture.
Some nameless person at the New Zealand Herald thinks either Labour or the Greens may have to support National after the 2014 election. And that person gets a salary to write this sort of stuff!
I don't normally read anonymous postings on the internet, but yesterday's NZ Herald editorial about the prospect of a "coalition of the losers" government forming post 2014 has been brought to my attention.
There has been heaps of hype around the America's Cup, but beyond our national ego and sporting competitiveness, there is one very practical reason to hope Emirates Team New Zealand can somehow pull one out of the bag
The America's Cup was a balm and an emotional boon last week – a fun way to start the day and a national ego boost. It became a much more grim vigil; a duty of hope. And after this morning, despair has set in.
David Cunliffe's shadow cabinet reshuffle has been seen as quite measured and Cunliffe himself says it puts Labour on a war footing. But perhaps the most telling appointment has gone largely unremarked
The rise of Sue Moroney and Louisa Wall, the predictable demotions of Clare Curran and Trevor Mallard, the left-right tension on Labour's "economic team", the redeployment of David Shearer and Jacinda Ardern, plus the wink to Phil Goff that 30 years is long enough alongside the nod to Annette King that there's still work for her to do after almost as long...
The incentives the Government is dangling before prospective investors in Meridian Energy show just how much pressure its "Mixed Ownership Model" policy is under.
Some things sell on their merits alone. Icebreaker. BMW. Wooing Tree Pinot Noir. Sure, they may throw in the occasional discount or sweetener to clear inventory or get over a flat patch, but on the whole the purchaser is prepared to shell out top dollar based on confidence that she or he is getting quality in return.
Starting with wearing the niqab in court, moving to messing up prisoner disenfranchisement, passing through justifying yet more limits on election day activity, and finishing with a new theme song for Apple.
Quebec's minority separatist government is dividing the province with its proposal to regulate religious symbols worn by public servants - a so-called Charter of Quebec Values. Like almost everything it has done in one year in office, this too is a shambles.
When a government goes all out to fix something that is not broken, it is a sure bet the ‘solution‘ is to mask a real problem.
In Canada - specifically Quebec - the issue the minority separatist Parti Quebecois has rolled out to deflect attention from its appalling first year at the helm is what it so misleadingly refers to as a Charter of Quebec Values.
David Cunliffe has been given a shot – a better shot than he might have had – so which direction will he take and can he switch out of primary-mode quick enough?
When we heard yesterday that David Cunliffe had got the job he's so long coveted as Labour leader, my wife said to me "well now they can get on with it after wasting the past year on Shearer". As we enter the Cunliffe era, I'm not at all sure that time's been wasted, however. In fact, the latest David off the rank may well have good reason to be grateful to the ABCs [Anyone But Cunliffe].
We only need to look across the Tasman to see what David Cunliffe should do now.
John McTernan’s ‘Five Things the Australian Labor Party Needs To Do Now’ and Julia Gillard’s piece on ‘Power, Purpose and Labor’s Future’ should be compulsory reading.
Here are a few thoughts for the To Do list:
- First job - Change the culture of the party.
Julia Gillard wrote, “Ultimately organisations tell you what they are all about and what they value, by what they reward.”
First job - change the culture of the party.
...because Labour needs to change, not the voters.
The Labour leadership contest has changed the Labour party because Shane Jones stood.
He’s been fearless. And, yes, sometimes crass. But he has looked outward, away from internal squabbles and said what needed to be said; if Labour is to appeal to middle New Zealand, then it can’t say ‘we want your vote but not your values.’
On The Vote Metiria Turei of the Greens and National's Sam Lotu-Iiga both slipped up, and in doing so showed where their parties are potentially weak in Election 2014.
The Labour leadership contest has shown the important role narrative plays in politics - Shane Jones the roguish bloke who knows what it's like for real Kiwis... David Cunliffe the economic visionary and new-left champion of the worker who can still reassure the centre... Grant Roberton the uniter, the good bloke and the new generation of leader who will move us beyond the baby-boomers.
President Obama has clutched at the straw of diplomacy in order to postpone deeply unpopular military intervention in Syria. However the Russian-Syrian so-called diplomatic option for dealing with chemical weapons has a definite whiff of implausibility about it.
Is the art of negotiation really in play over the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons?
The three candidates for Labour Party leadership are all strong. A voter explains his choice
Agonising about how I’m going to vote is a novel experience for me.
I grew up a tribal Labour voter, “rusted-on” as they say, thanks to my mum, who suffered as the daughter of a deserted wife in the Great Depression and whose situation was vastly improved by the election of the Savage Labour Government in 1935.
Proposed planning reforms have been heavily contested by environmental, community, legal and professional organisations around the country
Environment Minister Amy Adams recently released the Government’s proposed changes to the principle planning legislation in NZ (the Resource Management Act 1991).
No, this isn't a post on Labour's leadership election (zing!) But it is about elections - more specifically, who can't take part in them.
A couple of electoral-law-related issues poked their heads above the ground in the last few days - one slightly ridiculous, the other somewhat more important.
What an interesting online and social media fuss there's been about the 3rd Degree piece on Shane Jones this week. To me it just seems like a misguided argument based on the tired olf 'journalists are so awful' meme
Wednesday night's episode of 3rd Degree revealed a fascinating insight the Labour leadership contest, one which for me showed how the party risks not making the most of its primary season, but for others suggested intrusion and even talk of "endorsements".
I'm no great fan of referenda, but when phrases such as "elected dictatorship" start getting bandied around we all need to draw breath and remember how this 'running the country' thing really works
Well, it's been less than 24 hours since the Keep Our Assets groups nailed their petition, metaphorically, to the door of parliament, and there's already been a fair bit of tosh spoken about it. Some of the worst has come from Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but he's not alone.
The following is an exercise in introverted nostalgia, for which I apologise in advance. That said, some readers may enjoy it, and a few may even understand what it's talking about.
When I got to my office today, I discovered a brown paper bag covered in lunatic, smeared crayon scribblings shoved under my door. After a period of puzzled scrutiny, I was able to determine that it contained the following cryptic message:
Two Meany Davs is playing ageen at Tastee Mercahnts on Saterday. Can U pleeze tell the peopels to come too it?
The way the police have approached the GCSB's covert recording of Kim Dotcom is markedly different to how they approached Bradley Ambrose's recording of John Key. Why is that?
The police have announced that, following an in-depth inquiry into Russel Norman's complaint that the GCSB acted in a criminal fashion by intercepting Kim Dotcom's private communications,
In which your esteemed author tells you who the Labour leader must be, explains why the Government had to appeal the "Quake Outcasts" case, warns you that your right to wear silly lapel pins on election day is under threat, and calls on David Farrar to save Great Britain.
Having been unusually silent for no better reason than I couldn't really be bothered writing anything, a few issues have emerged that invite (nay, require) my views. So here's an unreasonably long post to deal with them all.
The disastrous American led invasion of Iraq is exactly why the West should intervene now in Syria. Those who protested against the illegal war in Iraq should be calling on the UN and civilized countries to take action under international law
The Iraq invasion and subsequent fiasco is what happens when you do nothing for too long.
If the West had intervened in 1988 when Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds at Halabja, the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq may never have happened.
What the start of the Labour leadership campaign tells us about the candidates...
Don't judge a book by its cover, they say. And it's good advice. When it comes to who might lead Labour into the 2014 election there's a lot more to come as the three aspirants campaign their way round the country. Nevertheless, the launches of Grant Robertson, Shane Jones and David Cunliffe told us a fair bit about who they are and what they bring.
How it all came to pass
Once upon a time in a country not far away at all, an obese German multi-millionaire, together with his very attractive wife and their children, a household of manservants, maidservants and security guards, 18 Mercedes Benzes, Cadillacs, Rolls Royces and other fancy carriages, and lots of computers, wide screen TVs and pretty pictures, moved into a palace in the Prime Minister’s electorate.
A steady erosion of human rights in New Zealand through legislation is being accompanied by Ministerial attempts to avoid searching scrutiny of these measures, and to silence dissenting voices.
In June 2013 the Law Society reported to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council that in New Zealand, “a number of recent legislative measures are fundamentally in conflict with the rule of law” and in breach of human rights.
David Shearer was elected leader of the Labour party because he had an outstanding leadership record outside parliament and he represented a chance for Labour to make a new beginning.
He never found a way to show us his skills and he never created the new beginning Labour needs.
The dead fish stunt will be installed by history as the cringing moment that brought it all down, but for months failure has felt like a matter of time.
Although David Shearer was elected with the support of the previous leadership team, the point of picking a first term MP was to make a break with the direction that had lost consecutive elections.
The five key points to consider when choosing the next Labour leader
So, David Shearer has pulled the pin on his leadership of the Labour party and killed off his own ambition because, he says, the party's ambition is more important. A decent sentiment from a decent man; it's cliche to say he's a good and likeable man, but he is. However he lacked what New Zealand is looking for here and now.
Britain's intimidation of the Guardian newspaper, and its detention of a Brazilian national under a terrorism provision serve as warning for what governments with dirty secrets are prepared to do. Complacency will enable them.
While New Zealand grapples with the fiasco that is the GCSB legislation, those who believe that the innocent have nothing to fear from the state should look closely at the case of Brazilian national David Miranda, and British government intimidation and harassment of the Guardian newspaper.
With a few exceptions, much of the GCSB media coverage has been superficial, and complicit in personal attacks and dismissive denials. Media had a vital role to play in answering the many questions around this Bill, and failed.
By and large, the New Zealand media have done a terrible job of reporting on the GCSB bill, despite its fundamental implications for democratic rights and freedoms in New Zealand – including, ironically, the freedom of the press.
I confess: The GCSB bill has me going back and forth. So after considering the politics played by the PM this week I lay out my main qualms about the bill and seek your advice...
We've seen the best and worst of John Key this past week, all muddled up together, as he has tried to work his way through public debate on the GCSB reform bill. The Prime Minister has been patronising and politically astute, a classy communicator and a below-the-belt jiber.
We're going to need just about every one of the housing policies being thrown around at the moment because any big fix is going to be down to lots of small change... and it's going nuts out there
Forget love, real estate is the new battlefield. And now just between the main political parties. The stories from the Auckland warzone are enough to leave you shell-shocked, and I've got two stories from this weekend as evidence.
I tried showing a little sympathy for Bill English last week. That'll teach me. The Tiwai Pt deal has fewer reedeming features that I dared hope and may make little difference to the Meridian float
I had a couple of interesting conversations over the weekend – and have done a little quick background reading – which have together been enough to think I was too kind to Bill English and National in my Friday post about the Tiwai Point subsidy.
The Tiwai Point subsidy buys time, but ultimately is just the latest in a series of deals by governments of different strips that sees the taxpayers stumping up for political reasons. Will it ever end?
Damned if they did, damned if they didn't. That was the political reaction National faced whatever they chose to do about Tiwai Point. But I'm not sure if that made the final decision harder – or let them off the hook.
We've got the latest polls all mixed up together and come up with some thoughts on Winston Peters and a bunch of questions for you to discuss. So off you go...
You'll notice on the left hand side of the homepage that, after the latest round of polls, we've updated Pundit's own poll of polls, which track the country's five biggest surveys. And it's noteworthy to see the trend lines have turned a smidgen.
This is the third infant formula crisis that Fonterra has been involved with. Time to go.
Fonterra was given privileged status because it was supposed to benefit the entire economy. Instead it's putting NZ inc at billion dollar risk.
First it was plastic. Then it was fertilizers. Now it’s botulism. What next in baby’s milk – the Ebola virus?
We're not at the bottom of this story yet, but I can't help but wonder if those of us in the media need to have a good hard look at ourselves
The blur of revelations around Andrea Vance, the Henry inquiry's investigations into her movements and the government's whole attitude to information, privacy and spying can make it hard to know which are the most telling points in this saga and exactly when we should be surprised and appalled.
Today saw two of the most predictable stories of recent times appear in the news.
Sometimes you open up a news website (or, for those of us of a certain age, flick through the pages of a "newspaper") and experience a genuine moment of "wow!"
I mean, who of us will ever forget where we were when we first read: "It's a boy!"? Let alone what we were wearing when we discovered his name was to be "George"?
The Bradley Manning verdict sends a clear message to the chiefs at the top of our Defence Service (and Parliamentary Services). They should listen and hang their heads in shame. Investigative journalism is not treacherous.
The right to report on controversial matters that go to the heart of government is something that should be protected at all costs. It is never the job of the public service or our army to stop journalists embarrassing governments.
The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.
A message for those who serve on the front lines in our defence forces.
I thought I'd written the last word on New Zealand electoral law. Then bloody Judith Collins tells the world she's going to make a whole lot more.
So yesterday was a good day. My daughter turned five, thus celebrated her last day at her (exceptionally good and highly recommended) preschool, Koputai Childcare Center with cupcakes and a gym-themed day of events.
Should the new prince born today be long to reign over us? Or should he never inherit the throne? I confess the question's thornier than I thought
The front pages have been fun: The Sun retitled itself The Son. The Daily Mirror went with the cutesy 'Our Little Prince'. The Daily Mail has fun with Prince Charles saying 'Oh Boy! One's a Grandpa'. (They're all here).
US Secretary of State John Kerry has managed to convince the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to come back to the negotiations table...but that's just the easy part.
That John Kerry sure has determination and he’s going to need plenty more where it came from.
A dizzying schedule of shuttle diplomacy has done what Hilary Clinton could not. Convince Israeli and Palestinian leaders to agree to disagree and talk about it.
However talking about possible talks will no doubt prove to be the easy part.
With three pretenders to see off and an active destabilisation campaign underway, Shearer's hold on the leadership looks precarious. Does he have one big push left in him? And if not, what happens next?
Labour has long defined itself as the party of change and opportunity, and those concepts will be front of mind for many of the party's MPs while on recess.
I was surprised the dominant response to the Ed Snowden leaks in the United States has not been concern at invasion of privacy and the misuse of state power, but anger at the leaker... until I remembered something about US DNA
When I lived in the United States some years ago I was captivated by some of its salty expressions. One was, “His head’s up his arse”. I took it to mean the said person was unaware of his surroundings because of his personal preoccupations. I guess that's the opposite of what's most prized in American mainstream culture – being a regular guy.
It is not possible to consider the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman without taking race into account. The tragic story and the acquittal of Zimmerman has proven once again the danger of being young and black in America.
If George Zimmerman had been minding his own business and obeyed a police dispatcher instead of stalking a teenager he had racially profiled, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin would still be alive today.
Is failing to "walk" in cricket symptomatic of a wider malaise?
The England fast bowler, Mr Stuart Broad, nicked a ball off Ashton Agar to the first slip, Michael Clarke, on day 3 of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. The ball was cleanly caught and the entire Australian team celebrated.
Egypt starts work on forming transitional government; Chinese exports and imports fall; Tokyo identifies growing security risks in region; brand-new $34 million US military headquarters built in Afghanistan will never be used; Somali pirates convicted in US court; and more
Top of the Agenda: Egypt Begins Forming Transitional Government
The latest massacre of pro-Morsi supporters at the hands of the Egyptian military shows the country's push towards democracy is probably going to get a whole lot uglier before it secures the prize.
The fragility of Egypt intensifies by the hour as a civil war scenario gathers more momentum.
It has not been helped by the latest killings of pro-Morsi protesters by the army, which unsurprisingly has provoked a Muslim Brotherhood call for an intifada against that army until deposed President Morsi is back in the Presidential Palace.
Putting a price on something ... usually, the first step to selling it off, or compensating for its loss. Pricing nature is on the agenda in Wellington this week.
Think about the things that are everything to you: a child, love, the air you breathe, your life.
What price would you put on those things? How do you value them? Could you express the value in dollar terms? And the answer’s pretty obvious.
Time for a little light relief, methinks. Memorise these jokes, and you'll be the toast of the next dinner party you attend.
OK - we've all been a wee bit too serious, what with all the very intense talk about politics and the like. So, courtesy of the UK Independent, time for some yuks.
Who'da thunk proposing that women should get representation equal to their share of the population would be such a controversial notion?
OK - I've got myself all het up about this issue of Labour (maybe, possibly) changing its selection rules to require that 50% of its MPs be female (by 2017) and also to allow individual electorates to request permission from the party to have "all-women short lists" for constituency candidates.
Sir Bob Jones knows there's no such thing as a free lunch, but his cafe codswallop shows the multi-millionaire is woefully ignorant about reality of poverty in New Zealand
The New Zealand Herald a few days back had a column by Bob Jones on the problem of poor people. What he says is stunningly obtuse, and it perpetuates some silly ideas.
Labour stuck talking about 'man-bans' and social engineering rather than jobs and social mobiltiy. How have they let this happen again?
I'm not against quotas.
In Afghanistan, young girls are denied education because there aren't enough women leaders. Women are victimised and systematically deprived of security, livelihood and other basic rights because they are women. In that context quotas for female representation in parliament are one of the most pressing issues facing that country.
What sort of crazy, ideologically blinkered party would require that a set proportion of its candidates be women? The UK Conservative Party, that's who.
According to the NZ Herald, which has sourced its story from goodness knows where, the Labour Party is to consider at its annual conference a rule change that will mandate an element of gender equality in its candidate selection processes.
Inspired by the rash of speculation this week, I figured it's time I gave people a chance to make fun of me a year or two from now by giving my take on where we stand ahead of next year's election
It seems that 'The Game of Thrones: 2014 New Zealand Edition' is the game of the week. Everyone in my line of business seems to have a view on who will be forging alliances with whom and who will be chopped down to size over the next 15 months. And far be it from me not to join in.
John Key is claiming that the party with the most seats after the next election has a "moral mandate" to govern. Well, you would expect him to think that, wouldn't you?
It seems like I haven't been the only one to take the by-election result in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti as an open invite to speculate wildly on the possible outcome of a general election to be held in some 18 months.
We're learning this week just how common it is for countries to be spying on each other. Sir Geoffrey Palmer hinted last year that those in high power are quite aware of this
Spies. The characters of action films are becoming all too real these days. We are learning about metadata and secret surveillance from a whistle blowing/treasonous (pick your side) former NSA contractor and even Peter Dunne. And now the Guardian keeps reporting how the US has been spying on its allies, as well as the "evil-doers".
Mana and the Maori party must now co-operate or perish. All parties, including Labour should be worried about the low turnout - where's the mood for change? National is losing coalition partners at an alarming rate. But the big question - will the Maori Party survive? Does it deserve to?
Labour's win in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election was big enough.
Over the last three elections there has been a stable non-Labour vote in the electorate of around 50 per cent. The first job for any challenger was to collapse all the other candidates' support and set up a two horse race. Labour cruised home because those opponents failed.
The Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election result is bad news for the Maori Party. That's good news for Winston Peters and New Zealand First.
Hot off the press, here's my take on the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election result - with a stronger than usual warning that I don't necessarily know what I am talking about.
No points if you guess the answer - it's pretty obvious. The real question is if and when the electoral maths could compell New Zealand Labour to follow the same path
The Australian Labour party leadership change this week is an interesting prism through which to view the New Zealand Labour Party and its travails.
Labour MPs have voted in a leader they despised, a leader they once confidently predicted the public would come to hate as much as they did. Except the public didn't. Or at least, hasn't yet.
Sue Kedgley worries that there is nothing to stop our MPs selling themselves to the highest bidder. There is - so they'll have to do it quietly.
Sue Kedgley has an opinion piece in the Herald today asking whether the various "cash-for-services" scandals roiling the UK Parliament could happen in New Zealand, and suggesting that a lack of regulation of MPs behaviour here means the answer is "maybe".
The buzz is that National is about to back Auckland's CBD rail loop. And before you think the government's changed its roading stripes, let's consider the politics behind this
National parties and rail have long been, well, running on different tracks. But the buzz in Auckland this week has been that John Key may be about to jump the tracks (yes, I'm going to keep on with these puns) and come in behind the Auckland CBD rail loop.
After two days of wondering where in the world Eddie was, Vladimir Putin fessed up to his being in the transit lounge of a Russian airport, and, much to the annoyance of the Americans, the elusive Mr Snowden is free to go whenever he likes.
Edward Snowden continues to elude the grasp of the most powerful country in the world, and if Vladimir Putin remains true to form, that’s the way it will stay.
How ironic that in its quest to get its hands on the former private-sector surveillance worker, the United States is having to try and play nicely with countries which are not exactly its friends.
The greens are right to back down on QE. Their critics on the left are wrong to make QE a symbol of progressive orthodoxy.
I argued against the Greens policy because they proposed removing the independence of the Reserve Bank and linked monetary policy decisions to fiscal decisions about what we spend our money on, and because QE isn't right for New Zealand's economy right now.
The NZRFU's code of conduct requires that players "never argue with the referee. Control your temper at all times." Peter Dunne could learn from it.
The saga of UnitedFuture's status as a party rolls on, with the most recent development being that the Electoral Commission has rejected its application to register.
The court with “the potential to affect New Zealanders’ day-to-day quality of life more than any other court in the judicial system” is on the ropes. The RMLA speaks out
Yesterday, thanks to footwork from the Resource Management Law Association, the rumour of recent weeks was confirmed.
Cabinet papers did exist, it appeared, confirming that Ministerial consideration was being given to doing away with the Environment Court.
New Zealanders have been asked to think about our constitution - what it is that makes us or, as one judge described it, “the mirror of a nation’s soul”
Constitutionally, New Zealand is in a very sad minority.
Steven Joyce’s Budget 2013 announcement says that his ‘New Zealand Story’ project will be all about innovation and resourcefulness, our Maori heritage, and a ‘welcoming, friendly’ approach. I think the Emperor has no clothes, and it's about time somebody said so
100% pure New Zealand claims now lie exposed, as an embarrassment and a risk to our Government.
The latest leaker superstar, Ed Snowden could end up flatting with Dotcom in New Zealand says international lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. That's one way to reverse the brain drain
Ed Snowden has done a runner from his hotel in Hong Kong, but is presumably still in the city. Dotcom also spent years in Hong Kong avoiding arrest. They’d have so much in common. A modern day Bonnie and Clyde.
Finance minister Bill English is arguing that we shouldn't second guess business decisions made by Solid Energy. His argument happens to be a convenient way to get him off the hook for government failings
We need to understand what happened and learn from it so that it doesn't happen again. Bill English is implying that in the same circumstances he would do the same thing again.
The business failed because it forecast record high coal prices would continue indefinitely and made business decisions on that basis.
Act One of Peter Dunne's departure has come to an end. What does Act Two hold in store?
Now that Peter Dunne has turned into the political equivalent of a bleeding seal swimming amidst a feeding frenzy of hungry sharks, what happens next?
Well, there's three ways that his involvement in any past leaks will get scrutinised in the next little while.
Iain Banks has passed away. He hasn't gone to a better place - he's just dead.
I first came across Iain Banks in my second year at 'Varsity when a buzz went around about this crazy book, The Wasp Factory, that would blow your mind.
How can we move forward with the fluoridation debate? Hamilton City Council has an obligation to show that its decision will not cause harm
Fluoridation of public water supplies is a public health measure that has been around since the 1940s.
Hamilton councillors are just the latest folk to fall prey to fear-raising arguments against 'mass medication' and in favour of individual choice, while ignoring science. What's going on?
Judith Collins once introduced me to one of her staff members saying, "Tim writes mean things about me on his blog". It was a jokey dig done with a wonderfully straight face and it charmed me. So I'm going to take this chance to applaud her no-nonsense response to Hamilton City Council's daft decision on fluoride this week.
It's very hard to draw black and white lines around political interviewing in this country and in these times... but it's easy to get it wrong when you weren't in the room, and that's the trap Msrs Edwards, Ralston and Drinnan have fallen into
I've been sick the past week, so I hope you'll forgive the tardy response. But Brian Edwards, the man who not so long ago declared he would stop blogging, wrote a blog last week about Shane Taurima and his decision to put himself forward for the Labour candidacy in the Rawhiti-Ikaroa by-election. It got under my skin, not least for the observations quoted by other 'media commentators'.
David Carter's decision on Peter Dunne's status was just as wrong (and as right) as Jonathan Hunt's decision on Harry Duynhoven's.
What is all this fuss about Peter Dunne, Trevor Mallard, Winston Peters and David Carter, I hear you asking?
Oh, you weren't? Well, tough. I'm telling you anyway.
A mother explains why the Ministry of Health's base model for caring for the disabled is based on factual error and discrimination.
In the world of work I don’t have many formal qualifications. In the world where I am the parent of a 25 year old disabled woman of high needs I am highly qualified to discuss policy re payment to family carers. Many of us are now familiar with the Human Rights Commission case against the Ministry of Health (The Ministry v Atkinson 2010), which resulted in the government announcing
Russel Norman dared to (gasp!) compare John Key's approach to politics with that of Robert Muldoon! Have you ever heard anything so outrageous (since the exact same comparison was made in relation to Helen Clark)?
Russel Norman's speech to the Green Party's AGM in the weekend caused a bit of a splash - not so much for what he said, but how he said it.
In the words of Orson Wells ‘Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.’ School lunches could make citizens out of all of us.
Nearly every OECD country provides either free or subsidised school lunches. Only New Zealand, Canada and a few others continue the tyranny of the packed lunch and the soggy sandwich.
That’s because we’re not a child-centered culture.
Al Nisbet and his editors have every right to argue 'freedom of the press', but that doesn't make them good cartoons... And the politics behind 'food in schools'
A picture is worth a thousands words, they say. Why? Because an image can convey truth in an instant. But a picture can also distort, like those fairground mirrors, and we've seen more of the latter in the Al Nisbet cartoons about the government's 'food in schools' programme.
I think the National Government broke the Constitution. John Key thinks it didn't. We both may be right.
My last post on the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013 appeared to strike something of a chord. Certainly, it's been the most viewed piece that I've written here.
The 2007 law change prohibiting parents from hitting their children is being quoted as an example of frustration of the popular will by Parliament. But was it?
I see it said quite often nowadays that the law forbidding parents from hitting their children was passed against the popular will. The latest is from a commenter on Monday’s post on Pundit from Dame Anne Salmond. I don’t see it that way.
Research by the Greens into just who bought the Mighty River Power shares show that those Mum and Dad investors were more like 'Mummy and Daddy dahling' investors
It's no secret that I'm no fan of National's partial asset-sales programme. To me it's always seemed like selling the rental property to pay to renovate the spare room. Why would you give away the long-term returns for the sake of a quick buck to spruce up a few schools, hospital and roads? Having said that, it's not the nuttiest of ideas, either.
A week of poor process continues for the government as it side-steps consultation with its decision to approve mining on the Denniston Plateau
Sorry about the absence, but I've been making television and trying to absorb the pros and cons of drug decriminalisation (and I might blog on that soon). But in the meantime Andrew, Claire and our very special guest Anne Salmond (New Zealander of the Year, no less) have been doing some impressive heavy lifting.
Increasingly, our Government is behaving like a playground bully. If Ministers will not restrain themselves from abuses of power, others need to stand up and speak out
In its editorial today, the New Zealand Herald joins Andrew Geddis in castigating the Government for a constitutional outrage – denying the family carers of people with disabilities the right to appeal against unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or the courts.
Government's gathering pace, in a way that ought to give us all serious pause - because it rips apart more than our constitutional fabric.
“New Zealand is a remorselessly democratic country.” -- Geoffrey Palmer
In 1977, 341,159 New Zealanders joined the petition of Gwenny Davis to Parliament.
Our constitutional arrangements work on an implicit bargain - the principle of comity - that the Courts and Parliament don't mess with each other's turf. I think that bargain just got broken.
I really don't want to be "that guy" who leaps up at monotonously regular intervals to proclaim that a latest constitutional outrage marks some sort of nadir in governmental practice.
One take out from today’s budget says it all.
The government thinks that the net fiscal impact on the economy will be contractionary.
Here’s what Bill English says in his Fiscal Strategy Report for the budget:
“Having been stimulatory during the recession, fiscal policy is expected to exert a mildly contractionary effect on the economy throughout the forecast period.”
Since Bosnia and Rwanda, it's been clear that the international community disgraces itself when it stands by and let's blood flow at the hands of murderous state thugs. Here are the arguments for and against intervention in Syria. You decide.
Anyone who thinks that stopping genocide and mass killings is nothing to do with New Zealand is saying we should rip up our membership of the ‘international community’ now.
Here are the arguments for and against.
The National Government isn't going to bother even thinking about the Electoral Commission's recommendations to reform MMP. I wish that they'd told us this was the plan before we spent our time and effort engaging with the issue.
So it looks like the Electoral Commission's review of MMP, complete with recommended changes to fix those parts that haven't been working that well,
Now that we're in the business of guaranteeing winners by making public policy in their favour, the sky is the limit.
The Labour-Green Government today announced it had reached agreement with five "green-tech" start-up companies to create a "New Futures" industrial hub in Wellington. Under the terms of this agreement, the companies have committed to build plant, conduct R&D activities and produce goods for the next 35 years.
The Crown won't be able to change Sky City's gambling concessions without paying for it. But it isn't the Crown that would do so.
I have but three words to say to those who think that the announced agreement between Sky City Casino and the National Government, complete with regulatory concessions that will permit the casino to make a lot more money from punters over the next 35 years, really is "legally binding" on the Crown.
Increasing the supply of housing is only part of the solution. Demand needs to be shored up. That means changing incentives so that wage earners can compete with investors.
When run down villas in Sandringham are fetching up to a $1 million, the average family can't afford to buy the average house.
Here are two things that the problem of affordability isn't:
It's not a problem of not enough houses being built in the wops. People want to live where they work and play.
John Key now has no choice but to act on Aaron Gilmore, but at the same time has to protect is narrow majority in parliament. Someone has to hatch a deal
I haven't bothered to write about the Aaron Gilmore scandal because, well, it didn't seem like much of a scandal and this week I didn't feel much like kicking a man while he was down. But now it's interesting to consider what the National Party and its leaders may do, because their options have diminished dramatically.
All the parties have reasons to feel satisifed with the first state asset float. But why is it OK to intervene to boost the markets, but not to boost families?
It hasn't been a great week for political parties and their predictive powers.
In the different stories being told about the sell-off of Mighty River Power, not even numerals mean the same thing to everyone.
If you were to go searching for a place where absolute, unarguable truth could be found, you might think you would find it in the realm of mathematical certainty. After all, we like to say that numbers - unlike certain lowly ranked National Party MPs - never lie.
Food in schools – Russell Wills now Key’s puppet – targeting, corporatisation and the charity model rule
Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills gave a grand demonstration on RNZ yesterday of how even a well meaning and highly respected professional can become a right wing Government’s puppet in the blink of an eye.
Just because Aaron Gilmore said things happened in a particular way doesn't mean we shouldn't believe him when he now says those things happened in a different way. Right?
While Aaron Gilmore's actions at a Hanmer Springs hotel and the resultant fallout are, at best, mildly diverting, it is worth noting for posterity that he appears to have a somewhat shifting recollection of the events in question.
This is what he is quoted by the NZ Herald as saying about the relevant evening at his "tearful" apology press conference this morning:
Is Aaron Gilmore the Reese Witherspoon of New Zealand's Parliament?
Let's get the obvious out of the way. Alcohol makes people do dumb things. Even the most sane and sensible of us have been known to, under its influence, don a parrot puppet and flail around the dance floor at the front of an Abel [embarrassed edit: Able] Tasman's gig.
The force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners in Guantanamo prison amounts to politically sanctioned torture by the US government, and breaches established international medical ethics treaties.
The prisoner hunger strike is action of last resort.
It is political in that its aim is usually to draw attention to the injustices of unlimited detention without trial, of torture, oppressive prison conditions and a general lack of access to judicial safeguards.
Beyond the cries of 'Muldoonism' and 'North Korean', the Labour-Greens power announcement is an important landmark on the road to the 2014 election – a challenge to orthodoxy and the rise of an alternative
There is a scene in Bladerunner’ where the beautiful android Pris, played by Daryl Hannah, is shot and goes into a furious and wild death thrash, with her limbs flaying all over the show as her short shelf life disappears before her maddening eyes.
Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin dodged a bullet yesterday as the SFO decided not to press charges... and responded with about as much grace as you'd expect
After two and a half years, the Serious Fraud Office wound up its extensive investigation into Hanover Finance yesterday, deciding they would not lay criminal charges against those leading the finance company. The company's owners, in what's become typical bad taste, couldn't wait to gloat at the outcome.
It's a sure bet President Obama rues the day he failed to quantify the degree to which Syria's Bashar al-Assad would have to use chemical weapons in order to trigger a 'game changer' in the civil war, and therefore cross Obama's 'red line'.
I do not have a solution to the catastrophic crisis in Syria, nor I suspect does anyone reading this or any other column. It seems all options are flawed and the challenge is to find the least flawed option.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
The Dalai Lama is coming to Dunedin. In an ideal world, I'd be happy to spend a couple of hours going to hear what he has to say ... although I'm not (or, rather, no longer) religiously inclined, I think he's a guy who has "walked his talk" for long enough to deserve that. Plus by all accounts he's a pretty good and engaging speaker, so I don't think it'd be a total waste of time.
They that live by the law, die by the internet
Just a quick note, because it's late and I've just written an 1100 words post on electoral reform.
Last year, over 6000 of us took the time and effort to engage in debating the future of our MMP system. Would it be too much trouble for the Government to let us know whether there was any point to us doing so?
Following the majority decision to keep MMP at the 2011 referendum, the Electoral Commission last year reviewed the MMP voting system in a process that involved a couple of rounds of public consultation.
Blowing raspberries and calling names is what politicians do when they have nothing else to say. When you have substantive alternatives, and you know they are popular, you argue for those.
If you are a critic of Labour’s new, interventionist electricity policy, there are only two questions I’m really interested in:
Do you think the current system is working? And, if you don’t, what’s your alternative?
The Herald is telling its readers that the "[Same sex] marriage bill leaves a few inequalities to sort out". But you Pundit readers knew that already
At the risk of being accused of commiting an act of shameless self-promotion ... oh, OK then, in a transparently obvious display of shameless self-promotion ... can I just point out that if you read this NZ Herald article about how
The marriage equality win has made New Zealand a better place, but here's hoping it's been done right
In my pleasure at the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act I was reminded of an email my Mum sent me a couple of months ago, containing an old black and white photo of eight women and two children. They're seated in a garden. A sun spot blurs the right-hand corner, possibly obscuring another child.
Involvement in the cannabis trade probably isn't the ideal way to learn how to grow things and sell them to other people. But there's a reason why those who do so need to master some important skills really, really well.
Over on Kiwiblog, DPF has a post decrying Meteria Turei's "claim that Maori growing marijuana are developing entrepreneurial and horticultural skills" and arguing that "the last thing you want is MPs praising drug dealers as entrepreneurs".
Army to gain new powers over protesters; GCSB spies on New Zealanders; new single government data hub planned... Is Aotearoa en route to Orwell's 1984?
I’ve made a lifelong habit of trying to stay out of the discourse on spying and security issues.
Since my earliest involvement in radical left activity in the late 1960s, I’ve been put off by those amongst us who seem to spend more energy on police and security issues than focusing on our collective kaupapa and actions.
John Key began to fight back against the damage being done by the GCSB scandal urging reform for the bureau. But has he jumped the gun before doing the numbers? Let's see what ACT and United Future have said...
The GCSB spying controversy this week keeps giving new angles, each one more likely to have New Zealand voters changing the channel or turning the page.
Thatcher dominated my childhood, and changed politics forever when she declared the end of society. The left and the right is still recovering from her legacy.
I grew up hating Thatcher.
I was thirteen when the Tories came to government in 1979. I was in my thirties by the time they were voted out. By then I was back in New Zealand.
Thatcher was the only leader I’d ever known.
Kitteridge Report suggests "unclear legislation" allowed for GCSB to illegally spy on New Zealanders. But the real responsibility lies elsewhere
The Kitteridge Report on New Zealand's intelligence agency, the GCSB, is written in polite bureaucratic language but the activities it documents amount to a gross breach of the GCSB’s responsibility to the New Zealand public.
The story behind the massive leak of documents revealing the extent to which the world's wealthy go to avoid and evade tax and New Zealand's part in the investigations
News has been coming out of Washington DC recently of a massive leak of tax haven information. I have spent the past 15 months working on this project, helping to dig through the leaked material to find what should be publicised.
New Zealanders instinctively trust John Key as a straight-shooter. But at what point do voters start to see the Prime Minister as tarnished by the Dotcom spying affair?
Trust is one of the most valuable political currencies; if the public puts their confidence in you, politicians can achieve so much more, feel much safer in their jobs and demand more loyalty from your colleagues. John Key, such a successful trader of actual currency, has also proven to be astute at accumulating its political equivalent.
Miscalculation by the inexperienced dictator of North Korea is a real danger, as he flails around in a sea of propoganda, desperate to prove to his starving nation that he's the Man. Actually he's an idiot.
If the spectre of the well-fed baby dictator of North Korea spewing colourful rhetoric towards the big bad West was not so serious, it would indeed be very funny.
The government is in an ideological tangle over the Tiwai Point smelter negotiations, but could there be a local saviour willing to buy the plant?
Smelting is the process of melting or fusing something to extract a desired end product – at Tiwai Point that's turning bauxite into aluminium. In the Beehive, National is smelting principles and political strategies in an attempt to keep its partial asset sales programme and target of a 2014/15 surplus on track.
Labour wants to be fiscally responsible and seems arctic cool on Phil Goff's GST-off fruit and vege policy. But they may be about to switch horses at just the wrong time
Back in 2011, then-Labour leader Phil Goff went to Mana to announce a new policy - taking the GST off fresh fruit and vegetables. He described it as a "game-changer". Problem was, however it may have changed people's eating habits, it was no political game-changer and as we know Goff slid to defeat in that year's election.
Thirty years after the Falklands War, the dispute over who controls the British outpost simmers on
Now for something completely different – a blog about the Falkland Islands.
Developed countries like New Zealand can learn from Cyprus; an economy overly dependent on its financial sector rather than the real economy, is vulnerable. And the rule of law exist in our minds as much as it does in laws, courts and banks. It’s like a handshake. If one sides looses faith in the deal, doesn’t matter how many law enforcers you have, the system collapses.
Does anyone really understand what the hell just happened in Cyprus?
Disaster appears to have been avoided today with a ‘Plan B’ agreed. The draft deal, cobbled together over the weekend would see bank deposits under $100,000 untouched but the country’s second biggest bank close. It still has to be approved by euro zone finance ministers.
Obama's visit to Israel and Palestine may have been a subtle but determined new attitude towards restarting the moribund peace negotiations. No guarantees, and hopefully not another case of misguided hope, but theAmerican President made it clear that no separation wall and no missile protection system offers long term solutions.
The expectation bar for Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine was deliberately set low, but perhaps there was a deliberately subtle, and perhaps risky new strategy towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.
On the face of it, unlikely, but digging deeper, just maybe.
Following the legalisation of same sex marriage, same sex couples will be able to jointly adopt their children. But which same sex couples?
One of the flow-on consequences of the same sex marriage bill shortly to become our law is that it will permit same sex couples to jointly adopt children. Some people think this is a bad thing. I strongly disagree.
Rather than treating councils as a Beehive branch office, the government should pick up the phone and learn from council's local knowledge
The increasingly heated debate over the future direction of local government over the past 18 months has hardly been matched by rising level of interest from the public, whose eyes tend to glaze over at the very mention of those two words.
The new Pope faces South, away from the comfortable church of Europe, to a more restless church closer to New Zealand. Here's how that could mean big change
Pope Francis got on the bus. It was a simple action. But symbolism is reality in the Catholic church.
It was as if he took the church off the unreachable and opulent Vatican balcony, leaving behind the red ‘Liberace’ frills of former popes, and got on a bus.
As a complete rip-off of a recent Andrew Geddis post (respect!), here's another attempt by Pundit to reveal the ridiculous
State Owned Enterprises Minister, Tony Ryall, today accepted partial responsibility for Solid Energy's failings and said that the failings of his govenment are the strongest argument yet for the government's mixed ownership plan.
Last month government owned Solid Energy revealed it was talking to its banks and Treasury as it struggled to handle debt that had reached $389 million.
There's a lot of upside down politics in the Solid Energy saga, but at the end of the tunnel it's all about the next election
"Show me the money", John Key hooted at Phil Goff in the 2011 election campaign, painting Labour as a party of loose financial discipline. Can you trust a party that doesn't know how to get out of deficit, wants to tinker with vege taxes and create tax-free zones, he asked voters. And they said no.
The Government’s new plan for freshwater management is about as foggy as the Waikato on a frosty winter morning… Wonder why?
Mighty River Power – the vanguard of the Government’s drive to pull private investors into its new Mixed Ownership Model for State-dominated enterprises – has been at war with the Waikato Regional Council for almost seven years. It’s a subject that – so far - everyone has skirted round in all the debate over the imminent MRP share float.
If you try to say something offensive to Parliament, it doesn't have to listen to you. But why not?
We're now unstoppably on the road to same sex marriage (and, through related amendments to other bits of legislation, same sex joint adoption). This is a good thing. I am very happy.
Punitive bank fees prevent many people from using banks – and protecting themselves from loan sharks and other dodgy financial services
With gay marriage back in the headlines, it's telling to look at the numbers and take stock of the campaign to stop marriage equality
Tomorrow MPs will vote on the second reading of Louisa Wall's marriage amendment bill. On its first reading the bill passed comfortably, 80-40. So seeing just how many MPs change their vote will be an interesting measure of how effective socially conservative groups are these days.
As official records show more than one million Syrians have fled their own country, and more than 70,000 have been slaughtered by their President's troops, the world's Responsibility to Protect (R2P) seems to be gathering dust.
Almost two years to the day the Syrian uprising began, another ignominious milestone is reached. One million Syrians are officially classified as refugees having fled their own country.
This probably falls well short of the real figure, and in no way accounts for those who are displaced persons, stuck and fighting for survival within what is left of Syria.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority appears to confuse its role in overseeing the rebuild of central Christchurch with owning it entirely. Here's a reminder - it doesn't.
Government gets bolder. Meanwhile, Forest & Bird Ambassador Sir Alan Mark launches a public appeal for a Wise Government Response to five crises confronting New Zealand
Styled by participant Gareth Renowden as 'a loose affiliation of New Zealand’s great and good', really, it’s 'people like us'.
Three recent stories serve as reminders that we have every right to expect much from those given power over us
Yesterday I had a little dig at Peter Dunne about being accountable for his vote on the SkyCity convention centre deal, the negotiation of which he has described as "very fast and loose at times". It's a theme worth exploring a little more, as I fear we may be getting lax in what we expect from public figures.
Peter Dunne has written a blog post offering commentary on the SkyCity and Hobbit deals. Thing is, surely he needs to answer the very questions he poses to the Prime Minister
Good old Peter Dunne, eh? Always easy to underestimate, he often is much sharper and, from a media perspective, a better performer than he's given credit for. And now it seems he's reading Pundit and absorbing our (ahem) wise words. Or perhaps he and I are just thinking alike... should I be worried?
Selling state-owned assets isn't a growth plan, in fact it makes debt worse
Whatever side of the politics you sit on asset sales, no-one except the government thinks this is a good time to sell.
But they’ve already banked the $7 billion they expect from the sale. They need it to look real before the May budget, and be over by the next election. Timelines are being set by politics - not by the best interest of the country.
The Government can sell 49 percent of its shares in Might River Power – but it’s got another battle to fight before it can guarantee the river flows that spin the turbines and generate value for its power generator share buyers, consumers, and taxpayers.
Last week, the Supreme Court rejected claims that the Government’s plan to sell shares in Mighty River Power would impair its ability to address Treaty of Waitangi breaches in respect of Maori interests in the Waikato river. The Court’s decision clears the way not only for the Mighty River Power share sale, but also similar sales planned for Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy .
The first Hobbit movie has been made and released. And now so have some critical emails. Isn't it time for some full and frank answers from the players in the dispute?
And now we get to the nub of the matter. Timing, as it is said, is everything. So it is with the debate over The Hobbit, the indignation expressed by Sir Peter Jackson and the law change made by National.
An ode inspired by National's mixed ownership programme, to the tune of 'Five Little Monkeys"... And a few thoughts about the sales and the Supreme Court
Five state assets going on the block
Airline prices fell and so did one's stock
Don't sell Air New Zealand, the people said
Bill replied "Hmph, I'll sell the other four instead"
Four state assets going on the block
One went for lignite and only hit rock (bottom, that is)
"Now we can't sell that one," Bill and John said
Two big legal issues in the one day! Lucky I'm on top of my game ...
It seems Pundit topics are a bit like buses.
Jury trials are slow, expensive and don't necessarily produce the 'right' verdict -- so why do we still use them?
Our legal system – note I do not call it our justice system – deserves to come in for criticism. Not everything is bad, but there are elements that need to be reformed.
Basic things don’t look right to me – for starters, it costs way too much and is way too slow. But there is more.
I'm having a commuting crisis due to rubbish Auckland trains, the very trains I once so loved. Here's why
Dear Auckland Transport, Veolia and all those others who make up the mish-mash of operators and overseers of Auckland trains.
I used to have a wonderful life. Then Scott Yorke ruined it.
Sitting alone in a small room in an undisclosed location, constantly guarded by two armed plain-clothes police officers, former marginal blogger and professional opinionator Andrew Geddis cuts a folorn figure.
New Zealand Police have no authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority to operate their recently acquired surveillance drone - no procedures manual governing its operation – and the police won’t say what it is or what it can do … Why?
New Zealand Police seem to have jumped into the deep-end with their decision to buy an un-manned aerial vehicle. You’d expect them to try and specify before they buy. But, no. They’ve purchased their UAV drone before deciding what they want to do with it.
John Key loves closing a deal. But when it comes to SkyCity and plain packaging he seems to have lost sight of the fact that how you do things is the mark of a man... and a government
We seem to live in a world these days where the means don't matter so much if you can justify the end - we're driven by outcomes; the result is all that matters. Yet just how much the means means to a person, or a government, can be telling and two big stories this week have been revealing when it comes to making sense of John Key and his second term government.
First they came for the partners of beneficiary fraudsters, and I was silent. Then they came for the professional advisors of corporate entities, and I thought "hang on - this is completely ridiculous!"
Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, has today announced new measures to prevent, detect and catch corporate tax evasion.
That a New Zealander won’t be part of the papal conclave was possibly the least interesting thing to say about the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
When global events happen, some in our media hit the cultural cringe button and head out to find the New Zealand angle. We can’t just be citizens of the world.
If you can't insure something, are you still responsible for the risk of owning it? And how sorry for you should we feel if that risk turns bad?
Back in 2011, I wrote this post about the Government’s offer to purchase the residential properties of Christchurch’s “Red Zone” inhabitants. In it I noted that behind the Government’s “offer” lay the power to compulsorily acquire property under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, meaning that:
Admit it -- you'd never heard of NZ First MP Richard Prosser till the Wogistan debacle. Now he is a household name. Plus Ralph Stewart's payout and Novopay.
A week ago I wrote a blog about Parliament, noting that what went on there was mostly theatre – a “game” – and the content of what was said there was not to be taken too seriously. In one sense what Richard Prosser MP said last week confirmed this; the content of his statement about young Muslim males and “Wogistan” was such nonsense that only a fool could take this guy seriously.
Look deeper into RMA reforms and you might find it's more exciting than you think: an Environment Minister taking her axe to urban trees, and the latest in a series of “democracy deficits” - this time affecting Auckland
Wake up, New Zealand. Yo, Auckland!
I want you - the 87 percent of you who live in a city or town in New Zealand - to have a think about trees. What do trees mean to you?
John Key opened Pandora’s Box when he revealed that Australia had considered using its navy to shepherd a boatload of asylum seekers to New Zealand, but nobody seems to want to look inside. It isn’t a pretty sight.
It isn’t surprising that the people-smugglers and asylum seekers intercepted by the Australian Navy say they’re really heading for New Zealand. Anywhere other than Australia’s off-shore “processing “ centres on Nauru or Manas Island would be a sound choice.
The initial response to a call for councils and other big employers to commit to a living wage of at least $18.40 an hour has been dominated by excuses. But what could be more important?
President Barack Obama did the living wage campaign in New Zealand a favour in his State of the Union address yesterday by making a simple declaration. It was wrapped up in his promise to raise the federal minimum wage – something he campaigned on in 2008 but has failed to act upon thus far. But it's something that needs to be put to Prime Minister John Key, amongst others.
The serious and repeated errors made by Fonterra over DCD should mean an end to the cosy little concessions all New Zealanders make to the dairy giant
You would have thought Fonterra might have sharpened their crisis management after the tainted milk scandal in 2007, which illustrated the extreme sensitivity around the integrity of their products. Instead, Fonterra have made a ham-fisted mess of the DCD issue.
Is it OK to threaten to do a really bad thing if it means that you don't actually have to do it, even if you have to really be prepared to do it so as to make the threat work?
So John and Julia had themselves quite a nice time in Queenstown - and why wouldn't they, it being a beautiful place - chatting about this, that and the problem of refugees.
Robust free speech must be strenuously protected, but a written rant by a New Zealand First MP goes beyond defensible lazy thinking to racist insult, and must be condemned
There's nothing quite like a political foot-in-mouth story; indeed, journalists go out of their way to provoke those in power to mis-speak as a way of testing their suitability for high office. So it's quite an achievement when a politician, writing in the calm of his own home or office, inserts his foot so firmly and offensively into his own trap. Take a bow, Richard Prosser.
The launch tonight aboard the Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace NZ’s clean economy report recalls the time New Zealand turned away from nuclear energy. Now, as then, we’re at an historical crossroads. But where is the Economic Development Minister?
Forty years ago, New Zealand had to decide whether we’d plan for a nuclear power supply. In the end, we made some other choices: a lot of hydro, some gas, some coal.
Renewable energy options have come a long way since then; so has nuclear of course, but then so has our stance on nuclear-free.
Imagining Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler as a popular children's book character. Will he learn the lesson of 'what is smart and what is not'?
My favourite book as a child was a Berenstain bears book called ‘The Bear Scouts’. Daddy bear is a feckless outdoor guide who thinks he knows best. But the little bear scouts who follow the guide book know better.
Waitangi Day events played out more peacefully than expected, but the risk of division remains if we don't pay attention to public opinion
Another Waitangi Day has come and gone. While there were still a few protesters they were pretty nominal. There has been the usual dialogue around the event as the country struggles to settle just what to do with the day.
It's taken a few years, but finally Obama's fetish for drones has been outed. It is critical that what follows is an open and transparent debate over the place of these tools of extra-judicial killing, particulary because it seems everyone's getting them.
Finally drones are up for discussion. Forget that it took another Senate confirmation hearing and another strategically leaked document to get the drone-chat buzzing. The point is that one of the most insidious, clandestine, terrorist-creating developments in America’s so-called ‘War on Terror’ (yes its back in beltway parlance) is up for scrutiny.
John Key's Waitangi Day speech defended February 6 as our national day, acknowledged our willingness to look back and pointed out that we're not a nation of flag wavers. But why not and why shouldn't we be?
There is something about a beginning; about the hope it represents and the faith that it will lead somewhere, the fact that it is always the hardest part and often the truest. Our beginning is Waitangi Day, our national day, and John Key has again demonstrated his gut appreciation of what it means to us as a nation.
While school children come to watch MPs goofing around in parliament, the real business of governing takes place outside the debating chamber
"New Zealanders don't want stand-up comedy – they want someone to stand up for them". David Shearer rhetorically let forth with those words in his recent speech to the opening of this year's parliament, and I suppose anyone thinking about it would immediately see that to be true.
Four new voices join the Pundit lineup
Pundit has always tried to be a site that encourages thoughtful debate and conversation, covering all manner of viewpoints.
The Republican attack on Obama's pick for Secretary of Defence is a particularly blatant example of why the outcome of the 2012 US election was so important for the world. Second term Obama will not be perfect, but the alternative would have been catastrophic.
Having watched the US Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for America’s next Secretary of Defence, and having watched the political spinning on the weekend talk shows that followed, it is clear that a core of the Republican Party cares more about its own vanity than the direction - politically, fiscally or militarily - of the United States, let alnoe the rest of us.
New Zealand’s switch to digital TV is running smoothly on the home-front – but TV broadcasters are having a rough ride through a jungle of bungles by state agencies.
More than 90 per cent of home viewers are now ready for the final switch to all-digital TV at the end of this year – but many of the country’s free-to-air broadcasters are having a tough time shifting to the new digital world.
Gwynn Compton's open letter to Gareth Morgan, PR lessons to be learned from failing "quite comprehensively", and a nice response from Tom Cox
In the end, when the dust settled, leaving Gareth preening and Bob Kerridge licking his wounds ... there were these. Three thoughtful, balanced pieces, among the best reading (and writing) you'll find.
When I heard my friend Paul Holmes had died, I needed to write. This is what came out
Timing. It was part of the Paul Holmes genius. There were tougher questioners, better researchers, more authoritative interviews. But no-one understood the ebb and flow, the rhythm and pace, the pure performance part of an interview like Paul.
Auckland's sky-rocketing house prices could do the country a service -- as long as they are not artificially lowered
There have not been a lot of real issues about so far this year. We have had the usual silly season diet of non-consequential stories, interspersed with stories on the weather, accidents, crimes and so on.
It was a killer line about karma from Hekia Parata. Not only did it reveal her true feelings, it encapsulated what the government can expect in 2013 as it heads into its fifth year
Isn't it funny how a single word, a moment of levity, can be so revealing? When Hekia Parata joked that a technical hitch which saw Education Ministry staff missing out on their pay was "karma", it was a simple reference to the Novopay mess and the missed pay so many teachers have suffered in recent months. But it's a pretty good word to set the scene for the government's prospects in 2013.
The symbolism of the Rainbow Warrior's return to her spiritual home.
As the sun rose on 2013, the new Rainbow Warrior sailed for New Zealand: first stop a tribute to her sister ship, sunk in Matauri Bay.
It’s time for the Rainbow’s return, because 2013 marks another time of defiance, a fight for our country’s soul.
“Playstation helps Prince Harry be a better gunner” rates headlines – but “Torture on the rise in Afghan jails” barely rates a mention ... How come?
The answer looks easy: it is all “so yesterday’s war”. Our troops are pulling out of Afghanistan. We’ve heard all that stuff about torture and abuse of detainees before. And if Harry talks about taking a life to save a life, and how video games help him be a better helicopter pilot and gunner - well, that’s just a young man keeping some risky combat experience in perspective. Isn’t it?
A quick glance of John Key's state of the nation speech reveals a government tipping its hat to next year's election, but with little new to sell
In the early years of John Key's leadership of the National Party, and then the country, many of his critics were keen to say, 'just wait 'til he pulls the mask off'. There was always the worry his affable, centre-right smile hid neo-liberal teeth. Yet his State of the Nation speech today is further evidence that Key is no Brash-in-sheep's-clothing.
A new Oxfam report released in time for the World Economic Forum spells out just how vast the inequality divide has become and the urgent need to act. It's just not good for anyone
The annual meeting of the ultimate insider's club has begun in Davos, Switzerland today. The World Economic Forum attracts the rich, powerful and seriously cool from all over – the opening day has seen speeches from Mario Monti, David Cameron and Larry Summers, an award for Charlize Theron and reports of Prince Andrew drifting around for some reason.
France's adventure in Mali is both a result, and potential cause, of instability, and highlights once again the often-forgotten issues surrounding foreign military intervention
For now, French Prime Minister Francois Hollande may well consider France’s intervention in Mali a success. French airstrikes and ground troops halted the rebel advance toward Mali’s capital and weakened rebel control of the North.
Garth McVicar thinks that same sex marriage is just another part of a breakdown in moral values that causes crime. Silly Garth - everyone knows it's not wearing hats that causes crime.
So by now everyone who is anyone has taken their potshot at Garth McVicar and his "gay marriage causes crime" submission to the select committee considering Louisa Wall's same sex marriage bill.
In the college football world, the made-up dead girlfriend of a superstar matters more than a real dead young woman. There's something a bit wrong about that.
This is eventually going to be a post about the strange case of Manti Te'o and his dead-girlfriend-who-never-existed. But to get to that tale, we need to start at the beginning.
Two leading politicians are staying put. Risky stuff. And what I'm doing next...
Look at the time, is it 2013 already? I've hardly given thought to anything since Christmas except what needs to be done to keep the kids happy and what jobs need to be done around the house (when we weren't in Onemana or Gisborne). But here are two brief thingamies to kick off the year...
Mike Lee's extraordinarily obtuse article in the Herald this week ignores the importance of rugby in Kiwi culture and the fight for gay rights. John Forde explains why the time is perfect for rugby to come out of the closet
New Zealand’s struggle for gay rights has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years. Ten years ago, gay rights were of interest only to the gay and lesbian "minority" who were directly affected. Now, issues like marriage equality and homophobic bullying appear to have caught the national imagination.
My last post of 2012 said some mean things about Judith Collins. Let me make amends by starting 2013 with some nice words.
A couple of years ago, I had a grumpy prod at Simon Power for introducing a revamped Prisoners and Victims Claims regime into Parliament before he took off to enjoy a real life working for Westpac.
Fiji is getting a strong dose of khaki democracy as its de facto military rulers shift from “go slow” to “go fast” on the road to elections they’ve promised next year. It’s a shift that could create big problems forNew Zealand.
This week, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is coming home to a stormy political scene in the country he’s ruled for six years after Fiji’s fourth and latest coup. He’s been in New York, for Fiji’s installation in the chair of the G77 group of 119 developing nations plus China– a move that marks his country’s growing international influence as the world moves into the Age of the Pacific.
What does activism mean? How do we reconcile ego and eco, in 2013? And - with apologies for existential crisis - what exactly is my job?
“I don’t do much about climate change, but I’m a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and I do my recycling.”
New Zealand Police aren’t waiting for major aviation safety and personal privacy issues about domestic spy drones to be solved. TV3 reports they’ve already purchased their first unmanned aerial vehicle. So, watch this space …
It’s been known for months that the police have been studying the use of remotely-controlled surveillance drones.
Last September, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff was warning that “drones have the potential to be seriously intrusive” and calling for debate about the risks, benefits and the need for regulation “before they become a problem”.
2012 in review: text of my piece for the Resource Management Journal on the changing legal landscape, and writing loudly on the political wall
All over the country, on land and at sea, the legal landscape is changing. In pursuit of balance, the National government is rewriting laws that have sustained and built our environment.
The results are good - in parts. Other parts so deeply undermine the precarious balance so far achieved, that they compromise the whole.
This is the last word on the David Bain case. There will never be, nor need to be, another thing written about it ever again. Do you believe me much?
In my first ever Pundit post on the David Bain saga, I expressed a fear that touching it might lead me to suffer the same fate as Br’er Rabbit when he foolishly chose to engage with Br’er Fox’s Tar Baby.
We might have fought over it, at the time. Sometimes, we fought bitterly. At Gallipoli, we lost; but we were on the right side of history, and we found a blood-coloured poppy, like a heartbeat in the dust. Later, it would dawn on us: this is who we are, New Zealand.
Last month, business force-for-good Pure Advantage launched their latest Green Race paper. “A race has begun, and we are in it,” they said, and they showed a short film.
Want to say something about the Binnie Report on David Bain's innocence? Or Robert Fisher's review of that report? Or Judith Collins' handling of the whole matter? Here's your chance.
So, at 3 o'clock Judith Collins will release Ian Binnie's report on David Bain's innocence (because we all know now that this is what it says) along with Robert Fisher's "peer review" of that report.
The Police have, after intensive lobbying, achieved a law change that could end up putting more guns in the hands of criminals
The Arms (Military Style Semi-automatic Firearms and Import Controls) Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament last week. This new law, when it comes into force, will allow the definition of a “military style semi-automatic” (MSSA) rifle to be specified by regulation, rather than directly in the Arms Act as was previously the case.
Justice Minister Judith Collins' silence on why she had sought a second opinion on the Bain compensation was prompting speculation she was shopping for a verdict. But who knew she's respond like this?
Judith 'Crusher' Collins is back at it. Having had little luck actually crushing cars, today she's using her vice to scrunch the reputations of Justice Ian Binnie from Canada, and her own predecessor as Justice Minister, Simon Power. You have to love that you won't die wondering with Collins!
Matthew Hooton has done a 180 degree turn on his prediction for the 2014 election. Yet the new prediction seems as risky as the last one
Playing the 'what if' game and picking the results of future elections is part of the fun of political punditry. And few enjoy the fun of political punditry as much as Matthew Hooton. For much of this year he's been telling anyone who'll listen how the Conservatives and Winston will get National a third term. So what a surprise his latest NBR column is.
Political Notes from 2012: o'seas & domestic political rants of a purely existential nature - no strings attached version
The dragon is a sign of power, virility, of the yang. I suppose the signs of it have been everywhere but it’s taken me all year to catch up to their rhythm.
Politicians seem to agree that three years is too short... but will anything be done about it now we've got MMP?
For the final Q+A of the year, we turned our format on its head. Instead of politicians talking and experts analysing, we did it the other way round. Sort of. We got eight big thinkers from around the country and gave them 90 seconds to pitch their idea. What was the one thing they’d like to see happen to improve New Zealand and help the country grow.
I didn't think Susan Couch would win her battle in court. I'm very glad she hasn't had to.
The first and most obvious thing to say about the Department of Corrections' decision to pay Susan Couch $300,000 in settlement of her claim against it for the shameful way it handled William Bell's release from prison is "hooray!" Whatever the legal ins and outs (and I'll get
In which I get things some off my chest about relations between bloggers and journalists and the coverage of the Labour Party conference
There's a hokey old show tune from Oklahoma called The Farmer and the Cowman. It makes fun of the warring between the different groups settling the new territory and it came to mind when I was reading and thinking about the recent sniping between journalists and bloggers.
We shouldn't use Brendan Horan's political execution as a reason to reintroduce bad law.
Following Brendan Horan's rather summary casting out from the New Zealand First caucus - or, at least, so Winston Peters has told the House ... and the assumption is that if Peters says something will happen within New Zealand First, then it will happen - there's been some mutterings about the need to revisit the now lapsed party/waka-hopping law.
David Bain's claim for compensation is starting to look more and more like Charlie Brown's attempt to kick the football.
According to the stuff.co.nz website, John Key said the following about Judith Collin's decision to seek further legal advice (actually, a review of the review) on David Bain's claim for compensation:
The tide goes out slowly, but it does go out.
National and its dwindling supply of allies have almost exactly the same level of support as the left-leaning combination of Labour and the Greens, our latest poll of polls shows. This result mirrors the individual results of two TV polls, both published yesterday, showing a very close result.
The House of Representatives' Privileges Committee is considering whether or not public servants should be given free reign to defame completely innocent individuals to their Ministers. Well, that's an exaggeration ... but read on anyway.
Upon my return to New Zealand (did I tell you I've been away? To America!?), I found a very nice letter waiting for me from the Hon Chris Finlayson.
The world's recognition of Palestine is a symbolic, moral and real victory for Palestinians in their struggle to end the 45 year belligerent occupation and secure an independent state. Those who oppose such aspirations are out of step with the rest of the world, and its time they realised that.
The vociferous responses from Israel, the United States and Canada to the Palestinian victory at the UN make you wonder why these powerful states are so scared of a small, disenfranchised, occupied people corralled into a series of bantustans under an oppressive, apartheid military rule.
In 2012, National Ministers’ environment choices left us 100% poorer - or pooer, in the case of our impure, faecally-contaminated rivers
Three years ago, new to the job, Trade (and former Conservation) Minister Tim Groser said our brand would be built on “world class environmental standards”:
The Law Society appears to think that Catholic priests are legally required to solemnise the remarriage of divorced people. And that Baptist pastors must preside over the union of athiests. Or has it got something very wrong?
To my shame, I didn't put in a submission on Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. In my defence, I was busy with other stuff when the submission date rolled around and I assumed (and still assume) that support for this legislative measure is so deep and broad (both in Parliament and in society as a whole) that it is going to become law without my help.
Why almost losing the Labour leadership may have been a gift to David Shearer and the tasks he must confront in the next three months if he's to be more than a lame duck
So David Shearer has bought himself three months to establish his credentials as a leader who can, if not win, at least help ensure that National loses the 2014 election. Three months to put some runs on the board and impress his party by impressing the wider public. Three months to perform significantly better than he has for the past 12.
It was the speech to save his leadership. Or condemn it. David Shearer stood before the party faithful and got a rousing reception on Sunday. But was a new vision unveiled?
David Shearer can start these crucial weeks in his leadership knowing that he did enough in his speech to Labour's annual conference. Enough to give himself a fighting chance. He had enough convincing moments to give the TV networks the grabs they need and enough zip to energise a hall of the faithful.
Indie rock songs contain trite and obvious messages for angst ridden adolescents. Perfect, then, for capturing the feelings of political party activists searching for a saviour.
I haven't really got an opinion on the question of who ought to be leader of the Labour Party. Actually, that's not really true. I think it should be Grant Robertson, but that's purely because he's my friend and we always want our friends to be successful. Only, I note, because we can then hate them for it.
Cue socially awkward victory lap
So the votes are in and President Obama has won a second term. I’ll leave the prognostication about the future of America to others. I want to talk about poll averages!
What is investigative journalism, really, and why is it important? Nicky Hager shares his Bruce Jesson Lecture, presented at Auckland's Maidment Theatre on October 31
Each time I go walking near my home I pass an old war memorial inscribed with the words "magna est veritas, et praevalebit": Truth is great, and will prevail. The words date from 1917, in the middle of the First World War, and were obviously attempting to reassure the locals that their sons and brothers were dying in a noble cause.
Apparently Greg King has passed away. Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui a Tāne.
I only met Greg King a couple of times when I appeared TVNZ 7's "The Court Report", which he hosted. Following the show's taping, we repaired to the Bank Bencher for a few drinks and a chat. On both occasions he proved a good guy - interesting to talk to and refreshingly without an arrogantly overinflated sense of his own importance. I liked him.
Steven Franks thinks Justice Simon France thinks like a terrorist. And not just any terrorist, but an Islamic terrorist ... because we all know that Islamic terrorists are just the worst sort of terrorist to be.
You are the Police. You think that a newly formed group of motorcycle enthusiasts in Nelson (oh, alright ... a gang) called the Red Devils is really a front for a much nastier organisation, the Hells Angels. And you want to stomp on them before they can get involved in any really serious, harmful criminal wrongdoing.
Our poll of polls continues to show a slow drop in National's fortunes, and an increasingly positive outlook for Labour and the left more broadly.
Three recent polls have provided fairly different stories about the current political landscape. Here is what we see when we average out all the polls in the pundit Poll of Polls: National sits a little above 45%, less than a point above the combination of Labour (32%) and the Greens (12.3%).
Bill English has stepped outside his comfort zone in announcing that he intends to fix our broken property market. Can he get builders to build more 'Toyota Corolla' homes? Or will he end up looking like King Canute before the rising tide of house prices?
My response to Straterra's Chris Baker, whose comments framed an earlier piece in the New Zealand Herald. In fact, 69 percent of New Zealanders agree: conservation is at the heart of what it means to be a New Zealander (DOC, 2012).
“The misinformation advanced by parts of the community, however well-intended, does not help informed debate on our economic future.”
Is it the job of iwi to solve Maori problems, or do we all have a stake and a responsibility? And what's the end goal of treaty settlements?
It's one of those perennial talkback-style questions that comes up towards the end of any debate on race relations. Someone often says, "... and anyway, now that iwi have all that settlement money, why aren't they fixing Maori poverty/getting Maori off welfare/stopping all these Maori problems".
Alfred Nobel intended his peace prize to go to those most responsible for creating "fraternity between nations," and the "reduction of standing armies." Yet a brief look at Obama's accomplishments since shows that the further we move from 2009, the further he turns from this legacy
Three years ago this month, the Nobel committee awarded its vaunted Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama. While many dubious names appear on the prize’s long list of winners, this decision was met with near-universal approval at the time.
... was so far from pleasing Tigranes that he had his head cut off for his pains. History tells us that his name was Ira Bailey
By now Pundit readers, being such well informed individuals who are uniformly of above average intelligence, will be familiar with the massive information security breach at WINZ.
Did the person who told Labour that John Key (allegedly) mentioned Kim Dotcom's name at the GCSB really break the law?
Barry Soper at Newstalk ZB has broken a story about the source of Labour's information that John Key (allegedly) talked about Kim Dotcom to staff at the Government Communication Security Bureau back in February of this year - well before he claims to have first become aware
John Key says nobody owns the water. One hundred and sixteen years ago Richard Seddon told Ngati Kahungungu despite gifting Wairarapa lakes to the Crown, they still owned the water and the fish. Two prime ministers, which one is right?
Do property rights fade like fabric in the sun?
Or do they remain as strong as a man's word?
National announces cuts to minimum youth wage levels - a disastrous policy that will destroy jobs, not create them
National’s announcement today of cuts to the minimum wage for many young workers is yet another example of this Government’s determination to destroy jobs rather than create them.
Middle Earth, as my colleague quipped: it’s like that’s what we’re aiming for, one massive hole in the ground. Our legal landscape is changing, with mining in view. It’s not just the EEZ, or the RMA, or the Crown Minerals Act - it’s all of them. The ground is shifting under resource management.
Piece by piece, the National government is rewriting laws that have built our environment. The Crown Minerals Bill completes another piece of the picture - it shows why promises made were false - but that Bill is only an example of the government’s wider work.
The quantitative easing policies suggested by the Green Party may or may not be a good idea. But the arguments being put up against it don't carry much weight.
First of all, an up front disclaimer. I have no formal training in economic theory (albeit that I dabble on occasion in some Law and Economics theory in the course of my day job).
David Shearer is set to shuffle Labour's pack. The beltway crew seem to think it's overdue, but they're missing the deeper problem
So, David Shearer's planning a reshuffle of his front bench and folk such as John Tamihere and, well, just about everyone, reckons it's about time. The carping has started, so the Labour leader had better get on with it. But what he needs to realise is a reshuffle is only the beginning. In many ways it's the smallest part of the job.
Fran O'Sullivan doesn't like it when commentators present their readers with "very thin analysis". Perhaps she ought to stop doing so, then.
A wee while ago a bit of a spat took place between my (disclosure) Otago colleague, (full disclosure) friend and (way too much information) Guy-I'd-Turn-Gay-For, Bryce Edwards, and a couple of columnists at the New Zealand Herald.
Romney took the first Presidential debate...of that there is no doubt, even if he was a stranger to the truth of his own policies. Post debate, Americans are left wondering if there had been an alien abduction of other guy. Love him or hate him, Obama was AWOL and squandered a massive audience at a critical time.
If Barack Obama was going for a nice-guy, don’t bully the other guy strategy in the first Presidential Debate, it didn’t work.
In fact it was a spectacular, puzzling and embarrassing failure...if indeed there was a strategy which is doubtful.
We already know there are 100,000 New Zealand voters willing to put a party into Parliament which upholds the principles of small government, choice, individual freedom and responsibility. Now that 'Brand Act' is well and truly stuffed, there's talk the Libertarianz Party might fill the vacuum.
Last week a journalist phoned and told me the Libertarianz Party conference this coming weekend is called Towards a True Liberal Bloc in Government and I collapsed with mirth. Then made a cryptic remark about their being lucky to find a cupboard in which to hold their conference.
Ten years ago Omar Khadr was a kid in the Afghanistan theatre of war. Now, instead of a rehabilitated child soldier he's a convicted war criminal - or "terrorist" as his native Canadian government prefers to call the man it has been forced to repatriate.
The last Western detainee has left Guantanamo.
He has been repatriated to his native homeland - Canada.
The Canadian Government is not happy, but has finally run out of ways to delay, stall, obstruct or just plain out deny the reality that Omar Khadr has the right to be returned to Canada.
In which I work my way through the minister's explanations of national standards and award myself a gold star for effort
I'm not sure I'd pass any national standards, because I'm still confused. Education Minister Hekia Parata has finally released the comprehensive, yet unmoderated, national standards data, but I'm not any clearer what she wants us all to do with it.
People won't change how they vote because some spies over-stepped the mark. But the Dotcom-GCSB saga still poses a threat to the government, one it can't afford to ignore
As I've been watching politics over the years I've started building up a few rules that seem to apply regardless of party or circumstance – and with just enough exceptions to prove them. I must start writing them down! But there's one that I've been banging on about for years to anyone who will listen. And if John Key isn't careful it could start coming into play for him.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's visit marks a turn in New Zealand-United States relations. We have won the cake and are getting to eat it too, but that doesn't mean there aren't still risks
I can almost hear David Lange chuckling from the grave and making some quip about vindication. From all we know about the fourth Labour government's handling of our push to be nuclear-free it was defined by chaos, cock-ups and misunderstandings. But this weekend the US threw in the towel in what you might call our 'cold spat'. We won. Kind of.
National's "we know you are going to do bad things" law is now before the House. Can the people of Whanganui now sleep safe in their beds?
So the Government's proposed "Public Protection Orders" legislation has finally been rolled out. In a nutshell, it will permit prison authorities to go to the High Court and seek an order that because "there is a very high risk of imminent serious sexual or violent offending by the respondent", an individual should be detained indefinately in accommodation on prison grounds.
Mitt Romney does it again...this time writing off Democrats en masse as tax-avoiding bludgers who think the government owes them a living and who can't be taught personal responsibility. With just seven weeks till election he's written off half the country. Way to go!!
So there is a campaign god, and she’s not Mormon.
If ever the American electorate was in doubt about which Mitt is which, now they know, courtesy of the candidate himself and a 70-minute video of him in full, wealthy-donor loving flight.
The incomparable, incredible heaviness of grief and how it's just not fair
Those who make us laugh have a gift. I don't mean just the talent for conquering their nerves and walking out on stage at some comedy festival to crack jokes and draw a polite - or genuine - ha ha from the audience.
In which John Key plays the part of the scarecrow and David Shearer the cowardly lion
If New Zealand was Oz, I'd be sending our two political leaders off along the yellow brick road to see the Wizard. Having watched twice both John Key and David Shearer on Q+A this morning and read the transcripts, I'm struck by what they're lacking. (Hey, I critique, it's what I do).
John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. We know John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. So why don't we know who gave money to John Banks' mayoral campaign?
It's good to see that the Herald [Update: and stuff.co.nz, too] has decided not to consign the issue of John Banks' fundraising practices for his failed Auckland mayoral campaign to the memory hole.
Even more significant than the government's former ideas about mining our national parks, a long-awaited government advisory group report would spell disaster for the Resource Management Act if it were implemented
Proposals are afoot to change the way things are managed all over the country, where New Zealanders live every day. That means changes to planning and decision-making about everything that is built, or not, as the case may be. The changes proposed are big, and they’re being dressed up and glossed over like a pig in a bit of lipstick.
It looks like a lot of people owe David Bain an apology - as well as an awful lot of cash. Here's my contribution (to the apologies, anyway).
The beauty of this blogging lark is that it is very easy to quickly develop an opinion on whatever happens to be prominent in the news on a given day, pad it out into a few hundred words with a couple of links, throw it up onto the web ... then move on to next week's installment.
In which I spend a bit of time before breakfast browsing through the new paper that arrived in my letterbox... the good, bad and meh
My first impression is that we're going to get on rather well. Good looking, a sparky conversation starter, full of top yarns, and with a serious side. Yes, me and the new compact/tabloid Herald are going to get along just fine.
On day one, anyway.
Who says sport, politics and literature can't mix?
Back in my undergraduate days at Otago, I took a political studies degree. One of my lecturers then was Anthony (Tony) Wood; a true legend of the field.
National says it's time to get tough with asylum seekers, to keep the boats at bay... Even though no boat has reached New Zealand. Ever
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy says a mass arrival of asylum seekers is "a real risk", while earlier this year John Key used the word "floodgate" when talking about boat people reaching our shores. In a matter of weeks the government will act on this concern, introducing a tough new law to deter asylum seekers from heading our way; to stop us looking like "a soft touch".
The media have told us that Murray Wilson refused to attend a rehabilitation programme while in prison. In fact, the Corrections Department refused to let him attend
Murray Wilson, aka the ‘Beast of Blenheim’, sat in prison for 18 years doing next to nothing – and the whole country (well, Wanganui anyway) is up in arms. Why? That ‘doing nothing’ in prison seems to be at the heart of the problem.
Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic convention never once mentioned her husband's opponents. Yet that's what it was all about. Bill Clinton's focused heavily on the Republicans, but was all about Obama
Michelle Obama's speech may have been a little too pitch perfect, with even the stutters well timed and the smiles employed like walk-on actors in a play. Bill Clinton may have dragged on a little long and delved into a little too much detail. But what we've seen the past two days in Charlotte were master classes in public speaking.
Parliament is supposed to be just that, the House of Representatives, its members a proxy for each and every one of us, warts and all. So sometimes we have to tolerate debates about subjects we might think are frivolous
The late Sir Robert Muldoon, I'm told, never forgot this. When he was often criticised about the calibre, or lack of it, of some of his caucus, he explained that he didn't wish to fill his benches with cabinet minister material. "Some members are content to be just that, and so they should be," he explained. "It doesn't pay to have all your MPs ambitious to take on portfolios.
If a majority of submissions said dragons were the biggest risk to our nation's defence, would National change its foreign policy? Such are the questions that arise when a minister shrugs off science in favour of "listening"
When it comes to making it mandatory to put folic acid in our bread, I've kept an open mind these past three years. Mandatory is a pretty big step, one that you should only take if you're utterly convinced of the science urging you in that direction.
Ah yes, science.
Should Gisborne ban the wearing of pyjamas in public because, as one councillor said, it lowers the tone? Should we judge people by what they wear?
Whether we like it or not, we judge a person according to their appearance and what they're wearing, in terms of making snap decisions about what their occupation might be, where they might fit in society, or what sort of person they may be in relation to us.
When Iran hosts an international summit in any climtae, let along the current one, you can bet its going to be complicated. Nonaligned Movement (NAM) members who've gathered in Tehran have certainly had a taste of geopolitics on speed.
If ever there’s a complicated mix of geo-political agendas its on display in Tehran this week with the summit of the nonaligned members - NAM.
Iran was hoping to prove, through the number of invitees who turned up, that it was not actually the isolated pariah the ‘West’ makes it out to be.
Yes ... Stewart Murray Wilson is a "Beast". But that doesn't mean you can treat him howsoever you want.
So Stewart Murray Wilson is "free", and the representatives of the people of Whanganui appear none to happy about that. According to the Herald:
Last night, the [Wanganui District] councillors approved five action points:
Child poverty will be back on the radar this week, but will anything actually be done? If National's so determined to help the 1 in 6 in the education tail, what about the 1 in 5 without enough to make ends meet?
Poverty in New Zealand is getting worse. So the Ministry for Social Development found this past week.
Is National's plan to part-sell assets dead in the water? Or will is push ahead regardless of the Waitangi Tribunal's qualms and the risk of losing a coalition partner? As the Maori Party stakes out its ground, what happens next?
It's cleft stick territory now for National and the Maori Party when it comes to the Maori water rights debate.
Eurogroup warns Greece it is facing "last chance" to make budget cuts; US planning to expand missile defense systems in Asia to counter threats from North Korea; Australia to increase refugee quota by 45 percent; clashes in Tripoli breach truce; France eases work restrictions for Roma immigrants; and more
Top of the Agenda: Eurogroup Chief Warns Greece on Budget Cuts
The Electoral Commission is in the midst of its second round of consultation on how to reform MMP. In recent days, it seems to be getting an oddly uniform message.
As you all should know, the Electoral Commission has put out its preliminary proposals for reform following on from its review of MMP.
Kim Dotcom’s take on his fight against extradition to the United States makes law enforcement agencies here and there look like the Keystone Cops – but it could become another internet tragedy.
The big man is smarter than the jokey character he assumes for the mainstream media.. He knows exactly what’s happening around the world. The war against internet video piracy and for control of the internet is escalating rapidly to new heights.
If you can't stand in the same river twice, does that mean you can't own it? Might Maori have a special right to water? And could Maori law trump common law? As the Waitangi Tribunal prepares to report back this week, the water rights debate is set to gush again
Hold onto your hats... and your water... this is going to get bumpy. When the Waitangi Tribunal rules at the end of this week on Maori water rights, it'll be the beginning of the real debate over water, not the end.
Pakistan says it has reclaimed control of air base after militant attack; Japan-China dispute escalates after 14 Hong Kong citizens try to plant flag on disputed islands; Gulf state countries tell citizens to leave Lebanon; Assam workers flee Bangalore as ethnic tensions rise; and more
Top of the Agenda: Attack on Pakistan Base Shows Militants' Resolve
Tickets now available for TEDx Auckland, a day of discussions around technology, entertainment and design, in the internationally-famous TED format
Come get inspired at one of the internationally-famous TEDx talks, little brother to the TED events that have been sparking ideas and innovation since 1984.
Comes in varying colours, none of them blue.
There has been further discussion this week about how Labour should approach this parliamentary term. Mike Smith at the Standard hopes this can form “a reasonable discussion about how well [Labour’s plans are] working, and what else might work better.” I am happy to participate.
It's the day after the Electoral Commission's preliminary report on reforming MMP. Let's see what the nation's true power brokers and political junkies think of it.
Now that the Electoral Commission's proposed recommendations on MMP are on the table, the political jockeying over them can begin.
What the Ministerial amendments proposed to the EEZ Bill tell us about RMA reform plans - or, how a few lines on a page could change New Zealand's natural world
In the world blissfully inhabited by Phil Heatley, as described to an appreciative Straterra audience (including me) last week, some people always say “no”: “no” to that mine or this road, irrigation here, the subdivision over there.
The Electoral Commission's proposed changes to MMP are on the table. Whether or not you like them, you still should tell the Commission what you think.
What oh what will the Electoral Commission recommend in its review of MMP? And will MPs be willing to play ball?
Remember how we voted to keep MMP last November? The off-shoot of that was the Electoral Commission having a look at how the system could be tweaked. That review's out tomorrow and many are expecting some positive changes.
The Olympic gold medal winner has the country at her feet, and could do for some time
Let's put it on the record now. Lisa Carrington's going to be big. Last night's gold medal is a great launching pad and at just 23 years-old she has plenty of years to win the public's adoration again and again and again.
The New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan has been presented as a model for building security and stability in Afghanistan – but the cracks are showing as insurgents step up the pressure.
Saturday, 4 August 2011, is New Zealand’s blackest day – so far - in the longest war in our history .Two New Zealand soldiers have been killed, six of their unit wounded. Two members of the Afghan police squad they’d been sent to assist were also killed, 11 of their colleagues wounded.
Let's see if we can debate the place of marriage in our society without divorcing ourselves from reality and the importance of preserving age-old customs
I've just got back from a trip to London to celebrate a friend's wedding. It was fantastic. I love weddings. I think marriage is a wonderful thing and believe that such a commitment before friends and family (and God, if you so believe) can create a bond beyond a de facto promise. It's sacred and worth preserving.
Which is why I support Louisa Wall's gay marriage bill.
Kennedy Graham is very experienced and knowledgeable in international law and process, but would his framework achieve what he claims?
Kennedy Graham has published a series of posts on Frog Blog where he has described his experiences of Rio's 3rd Earth Summit, expressed frustration at the lack of determination and resolve from the attending states (our own government sent a
A trip to the US has given me five reasons to pick who will win the US presidential election in November
Just back from the US and my political gut is ready to make a prediction for this year's presidential election. That may be foolish, as there will be plenty of opportunities for the candidates to flail and fail, what with the conventions in the next few weeks and the TV debates to follow.
Once again the signs are that it will be a tight race; but one candidate has the edge.
More innovation or wacky ideas? And how does the government square a commitment to quality teaching with its decision to let anyone's Uncle Jim teach struggling kids? Just a couple of the questions posed by charter schools. But wait, there's more...
Charter schools. Sigh. You get the feeling that everyone -- except Catherine Isaac and the teacher unions -- is going through the motions on these, mouthing the right words but without genuine passion. It's a promised honoured, but that's about it.
On chooks, the planting of blossom trees, and building an ecological movement from the ground up
And so it begins: the garlic’s up; every day there’s a small fresh egg, or sometimes two. The old plum trees, which are always first - they know they’ve not much time left, perhaps - have a frisson of white.
There's no reason why a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters in Parliament should have to follow different rules to a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters as mayor.
In the wake of John Banks escaping legal liability for his mayoral campaign fundraising lapses due to a technicality in the legislation - incidentally, where was the outraged press release from the Sensible Sentencing Trust about how our liberal justice system has once again failed to hold a criminal to account? - there seems to be an emerging consensus that
The questions Energy Minister Phil Heatley should have been asked on The Nation; and why former Minister David Parker, bless him, still doesn’t get it
Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley ‘met the press’ on The Nation on Saturday, the day after former Energy Minister and opposition spokesperson David Parker had offered some comments in the New Zealand Herald.
If US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's current trip is to establish his foreign policy credentials, he should have stayed at home...but then he'd have missed out on the cash.
If Mitt Romney - ‘Mitt the Twit’ as the British media have now labelled him - is elected President of the United States in November, then God help us all.
John Banks didn't breach the Local Electoral Act, because he doesn't bother reading the legal declarations that get put in front of him. It's lucky he doesn't have an important job or anything ... .
I'm not all that surprised at the Police's decision not to prosecute John Banks over his blatantly false donation report following the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign.
New Zealand has been slipping off the international tourism radar since the Rugby World Cup. Can New Zealand movie-makers put us back on screen with global travelers? The Peter Jackson Formula is about to be put to the test.
This week, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson and Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss should be chewing over an officials’ review of New Zealand Film Commission funding schemes, a review inspired by recommendations from the country’s star movie-maker Sir Peter Jackson.
The Syrian regime has been dealt its most serious blow in sixteen months of repressing and killing its own people. The bombing of its military heart by revolutionaries may accomplish what has eluded endless and fruitless diplomatic efforts.
Whoever took out the Syrian National Security Headquarters - the command and control hub of Assad’s regime - may well have delivered the catalyst for the final battle for Syria.
US recognition of Egypt's democratically elected Islamist President, begs questions over the fate of Gaza's democratically elected Islamist leaders, how the US forces old Egyptian military friends to play democratic ball, and, right next door, convince Israel to chuck out a report that, if implemented, will end Israel's (albeit disputed) claim to be a democracy.
What does the democratically elected Islamist leader of Egypt have that the democratically elected Islamist leaders of Gaza do not have?
Well apart from timing - 2012 vs 2006 - it would appear the consequences of the Arab Spring have finally dawned on those who have self-servingly meddled in the Middle East for years.
Look at that, Peter Dunne is interesting again. The man from Ohariu could have a fair bit of sway in the next couple of years
Almost 30 years into his parliamentary career, you could argue Peter Dunne has never been more relevant. Although this is a terrible over-simplification, he's effectively the man with the man with the casting vote. Not just this term, but possibly come 2014.
Having stalled for three years and tried to minimise public debate, National is facing a tough decision on whether or not to compel bakers to put folic acid in all our bread. Either way, there's a price to pay
So, the thing about making it mandatory to put folic acid in bread is that it's a choice about choice - you can either have "free choice" or you can save up to 24 kids a year from spina bifida. You can't have both. So which do you choose?
The point at which Pundit gets all meta, with a post commenting on another post ... or, my thoughts on Tim's initial thoughts on the Ewen Macdonald trial verdict.
I was going to write a post of my own on the Macdonald/Guy trial verdict (interesting question - should murder trials be known by the name of the victim or the accused?) But then that busy little beaver Tim Watkin beat me to it.
A few initial thoughts on what comes next after the not guilty verdict in the Scott Guy murder case
So Ewen Macdonald is found not guilty. That will surprise a lot of punters, I suspect, but not a lot of lawyers or journalists. Early confidence in a guilty verdict has ebbed throughout the case as the evidence has looked weak and Greg King's attacks strong. And within an hour of the verdict, the mood is turning.
Understanding how National got into such a mess over class sizes after Budget 2012 - trade-offs, downsides and backdowns.
John Hattie's book Visible Learnings brings together over 800 meta-analyses to rank 138 influences on educational achievement. Five make the students worse off. Some have very little effect.
The government's laid the table for a growth party, but business is failing to RSVP. So why is National acting as if everything's going to plan? Where's Plan B?
Just like Margaret Thatcher, Bill English isn't for turning. He seems determined to stick to his conservative orthodoxy, even in what he admits are extraordinary times.
TVNZ 7 gave us a glimpse of what a real public television service could be. Our last nationwide, non-commercial TV channel is off the air. Even Kim Dotcom turned out with the thousand Aucklanders who marched to mourn its passing last night. So what’s next?
Here’s a big declaration of interest for starters. I am now driving the formation of a new, not-for-profit trust to establish a nationwide, free-to-air, public television service.
Some have always reckoned National's target of surplus by 2014-15 was "fairyland", but oh no said John Key and Bill English, don't you worry. Now Alan Bollard has joined the naysayers, National has to realise just what's at stake
John Key seemed to shrug it off as if he'd promised New Zealand pudding, but now wasn't sure whether or not he'd have time to whip something up.
Winston Peters got a weekend of great publicity out of a "bottom line" that is ultimately meaningless. But in the midst another bottom line emerged that may be harder to wriggle out of
After Winston Peters' elephantine stomping through the superannuation minefield over the past few days setting off explosions left, right and centre, we can rule out one thing and guarantee another, at least.
The partial asset sales are a compromise, according to the SOE minister. But why are taxpayers the ones left with the beads and blankets while the other bloke laughs all the way to the bank?
Another week, another "trade-off" for National to sell. This time it's state assets. While Tony Ryall's a much more adept and experienced salesperson than Hekia Parata, he's still got a heck of a battle to square the circle on this one.
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, currently passing through its remaining stages in Parliament, helps Big Oil less than you might think
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, known as the EEZ Bill, is among the most important pieces of legislation being progressed by John Key’s government. Forest & Bird, and everyone who cares about our marine environment, wants to support it.
Our poll of polls confirms National’s poor showing over the Budget period. Looking ahead, the advantage probably lies with Labour and the Greens
The first full round of opinion polls since the Budget is out, and the trend in our poll of polls is clear: gains for the left and losses for National. National is down almost two points since we last reported the poll of polls on April 30, while Labour is up over two points and the Greens up a touch as well.
A lack of political memory and of old-fashioned electorate experience are at the heart of National's F-grade performance on education and class sizes. If MPs did their homework they'd start looking, well, closer to home
Perhaps the oddest thing about National's woeful handling of its attempt to increase school class sizes in the Budget was its collective forgetfulness; it's as if the entire cabinet all suffered a bout of amnesia as to just what a hot button issue this is.
Good on the government for its determination to keep having the "uncomfortable conversation" about child abuse. Sad it's not talking much sense
Discretion. Professional judgment. Tough decisions made from years of experience. These are some of the most important tools available to Child, Youth and Family staff when it comes to deciding how best to protect vulnerable children, so why would the government want to take that away?
What does a government do when people are talking about things that don't suit it? It gives people something else to talk about instead.
You may have heard how the National Government generally, and Hekia Parata in particular, managed to turn what was meant to be a fairly bland and boring budget into a potential full-on revolt by the school sector backed by hoardes of upset parents.
Since when did church buildings become a matter of public vote?
What do the Anglican Church’s decision to demolish the Christchurch Cathedral and the Destiny Church’s decision to build a three-storey church, café, gym and school complex (the ‘City of God’) in South Auckland have in common. What do Bishop Victoria Matthews and Bishop Brian Tamaki share?
Egyptians - and the rest of the world perhaps - must be asking how they ended up with a Mubarak appointee and a conservative Islamist competing in a presidential poll which is shaping up to be a referendum on the actual Mubarak trial.
The pictures from Egypt’s Tahrir Square are familiar. The dilemma, solving a political Rubik’s cube, the likes of which Egyptians surely never foresaw.
After the sentencing of Hosni Mubarak but the acquittal of six of his top officials and his two sons, Egyptians have been thrown into an incredibly difficult situation on a number of fronts.
I don't know if the New Zealand Herald editor exercises any oversight over the columns his "opinionators" send to him each week. But I thought I'd do an after-the-fact job on John Roughan's effort on gay adoption that appeared in last Saturday's paper.
Dear John - thanks for this submission for the opinion pages. I've penciled in a few comments on it for you to think about and make the necessary amendments before we could even consider publishing it.
Gay adoption has always seemed to me to be a step too far.
I spoke last night to the Values - Green Party party, and book launch. This is, more or less, what I said.
In February 2010, as she was leaving Parliament, Jeanette Fitzsimons lent me Values’ first manifestos from 1972 and 1975. They were still alive, and speaking - in some ways speaking even more loudly today, than 40 years ago - and I wanted more than anything to see something like it from the Greens. I wanted to give these books a voice again, in 2012.
Robert Frost once said that "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." I guess that makes me a liberal.
The National-led Government has a policy on selling minority shares in some state assets - a policy it currently is putting into practice by way of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill wending its way through Parliament. You may have heard of it ...
About 400 people packed a Wellington hall to protest the planned closure of TVNZ7. Among them was former ABC TV current affairs journalist Duncan Graham
The hikoi that clogged the forecourt of an empty Parliament in early May was an ecumenical event, embracing causes from dolphin rescue to fracking the terrain and the public service. But foremost were the proposed asset sales.
If National is going to keep shining up shit and calling it gold, then I am going to keep exposing it as shit.
National’s latest foray into creatively interpreting statistics to make itself look good is about employment. As the chart below illustrates, the unemployment rate is at its highest level in about the last ten years, and normally we would say this means we aren't doing much good in managing the economy so that people have jobs.
The National-led government has delivered an “Optimist’s Budget” forecasting increased tax revenue, increased spending, and increased debt on its journey to a wafer-thin surplus by June 2015.
This was no “zero” budget. If all goes according to plan over the next three years, the Government sees its tax revenue increasing by nearly 23%, its spending rising by a little more than 7%, and its net debt growing more than 34% to generate a surplus of $197 million on a $75 billion budget in 2015.
So the Urewera Four are serving time, yet no-one can confidently say what they were really up to and the police allegations are all over the place
Has ever so much time and money been spent on gaining so little clarity? Even with Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara now behind bars, no-one seems to be able to say what was going on at the Urewera training camps and who was at risk.
After more than 100 days of striking, Quebec students have backed the provincial government into a corner. An election that will surely bring it down seems the only solution to quell unprecedented, and sometimes violent, protests taking over Montreal night after night.
Short of call in the Avengers, Quebec’s Liberal government appears to be stuffed - in the political sense of course.
It has fallen prey to students. Tens and tens of thousands of angry, determined protesting students.
The government makes plenty of excuses for New Zealand’s poor recent GDP growth. Unfortunately for its excuses, data exist.
National’s economic team has made an artform of making excuses. They are earnest and self-confident and mocking of those who dare disagree. But the economic ground they stand on is made of quicksand. Eventually, their excuses will swallow them as New Zealanders come to realize they are being conned.
Budget 2012 lays the ground for the battle of the narratives that will decide Election 2014. Yes siree, the campaign begins now, with the blame game
No-one will argue this week that Thursday's zero Budget is a good thing – not out loud, anyway. A necessary thing, a sensible thing, even a wise thing, but not something you'd take home to show your mum. Some will, however, argue that this budget amounts to a failure, and this battle over the narrative behind the numbers is the first big battle of the 2014 election campaign.
The revised GDP growth figures are bad news for New Zealand, unless you inhabit the same fantasy world as government Ministers.
Yesterday I posted about the way the government is massaging / contorting the quarterly GDP growth figures to make its performance appear better than it actually is.
Palestinian prisoners have ended their mass hunger strike before anyone died. Now the world needs to ask some serious questions about the mass incarceration of Palestinians as a tool to break their resistance to occupation.
Israel has managed to avert a massive problem for itself...for a while perhaps.
The Save TVNZ 7 campaign moves into top gear this week – New Zealand loses another public service channel - and Freeview has a rough road ahead.
New Zealand viewers have just lost access to another public service television broadcaster – and most of us didn’t know we had it. It’s SBS, the public service broadcaster established to meet the needs of Australia’s ethnic minorities – a very supercharged model for our own late, lamented Stratos channel.
Colin Craig has been hogging headlines this past week. Many have laughed him off - most notably the PM literally rolled his eyes - but that would be perilous in the extreme. Here's why
Colin Craig is a bundle of contradictions and surprises, but if you don't get that he's now a voice in New Zealand politics, you're not paying attention. And he will keep surprising us for a while yet, I think, as he kicks against the right-wing 'moral majority' box in which he's so quickly been placed.
Obama's evolution on the rights of gays to marry has taken him to the only tenable place...the place others went not so long ago to bring to an end the crime of marrying someone of another race. Welcome to the 21st Century.
President Obama made one gutsy call this week in his backing of gay marriage. It was pragmatic, and it was opportune.
It also represents a historic move forward in civil rights and is all the better coming from a man whose parents would not have been allowed to marry in some states only forty years ago due to other civil rights issues.
So there are all these teen mum banging out babies, right? And it's costing all us taxpayers heaps. It's a modern scandal Something must be done. Now! Well, maybe not...
As unreliable as self-selecting TV and website polls are, it's fair to assume that most voters are applauding National's decision to offer free contraception to women on the benefit and their teenage daughters. The strong puritanical streak in our national psyche takes a firm line with people who have children when they can't afford to provide for them.
Beyond Today: a values story is the Green party’s story. On the Greens’ fortieth birthday, it says Values is a history of which the party should be very proud, and values are the new politics
We need the quants, and the poets, both. We need the activists and the Members of Parliament, the individuals, and the collectivists.
We need Green values. We need us all.
Let us begin.
So ends Beyond Today: a values story, to be launched at the Greens’ AGM on June 1, 2012.
As they say, a week is a long time in politics
Last week was a strange one and may just have been one of those tipping points for the Key Government. For me it began with a political corpse and ended with a real one.
Debt's bad, right? So why is National asking our best and brightest to take on more if they want to get smarter?
Steven Joyce is one of the smoothest operators in politics - whether you agree with him or not, he's gets is evidential ducks in a row and you can only guess at the number of spreadsheets he's crafted to back his decisions. Which is why the twisted nature of his student allowance reforms is kind of surprising.
How twisted, you ask?
Rodney Hide wisely has left Parliament behind him. But that doesn't mean he gets to pretend that he never was in Parliament.
According to the NZ Herald (which in turn cites TV3's The Nation ... sorry, Tim!), Rodney Hide has done with politics, is busy renovating his house and moving on with his post-Parliamentary life. Good for him.
Could immigration policy save the French incumbent? Nicolas Sarkozy's political future is decided this weekend
After the first round of the French presidential election saw a record vote for the anti-immigration National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Sarkozy’s advisor Patrick Buisson has orchestrated a reorientation of Centre-right incumben
Republicans are reacting badly to President Obama's apparent politicizing of foreign policy success...how extraordinary.
Last time I checked, Obama never claimed he killed Osama, but why let the facts get in the way of a good piece of Republican whinging?
It’s campaign season stateside and each political party is equally adept at taking the moral high ground when it suits (remember ‘high’ is relative as we are talking politics).
Autumn has become a season of scandals and sideshows – John Key’s casino-convention centre “scandal”, the Banks-Dotcom donation “scandal”, the sideshow of the mythical David Shearer leadership challenge – all soon to be wiped away by the start of the main game: the defining Budget of 2012.
The political scandals and sideshows of Autumn 2012 have much in common. They are structured on screeds of speculation and scraps of substance.
Now we know why John Banks won't tell us about Kim Dotcom's donation. Blame the bloody lawyers ... again.
After two days of appearing on TV doing a very good impression of a befuddled senior citizen in the latter stages of senile dementia (as well as engaging in what is probably the most bizarre phone inte
John Banks' answers to the Dotcom donations have been incredible, but have left the Prime Minister with no choice but to back him. But the differing versions of events are so stark, let's not pretend that everyone can be telling the truth
It's all about standards -- that crucial question in politics of where you draw the line of acceptable behaviour. When it comes to Kim Dotcom's donation to John Banks' mayoral campaign, Prime Minister John Key can sit uncomfortably but safely on the legal side of the line. For now. But the thing about politics is that lines have a habit of changing.
Kim Dotcom and John Banks have quite different stories about their relationship. It might matter an awful lot who is telling the truth.
Politics costs money. Anyone who has had anything to do with any sort of campaign - be it to pressure the Council to fix the potholes in your street, or to get the leader of a political party elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand - knows this.
Five reasons why talk of turning ANZAC Day into our national day is not smart
I took my son to an ANZAC Day service today. He's three and it was his first attendance. We talked about soldiers, not wanting to fight, sometimes needing to fight mean people and bravery. The sun shone like no other ANZAC Day I can remember, and with my grandad's World War I medals in my pocket I thought, this isn't my national day.
New Zealand troops could be out of Afghanistan next year – but are we stumbling out of one ill-considered international military commitment straight into another, and what happens to our reconstruction and development commitment to the country our troops are leaving?
As New Zealand prepared for ANZAC Day, Prime Minister John Key made a surprise announcement: New Zealand could end its military commitment to Afghanistan as early as next year. The previous timetable – affirmed only a fortnight ago by Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman – had us leaving some time in 2014. So, what’s changed?
Depressed and suicidal prisoners in New Zealand are placed in so-called 'at risk' cells where they are deprived of sleep and subjected to humiliating searches
Kim Dotcom recently spent a month on remand in Mt Eden prison after the police agreed to act on behalf of US authorities. The police took away his cars and froze his bank accounts.
That SkyCity deal is sweet as. The law hasn't been traded, more pokies won't do any harm and now that the government's saying it might walk away from the deal, well, that doesn't amount to a backdown. Yeah right.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce did his own unique version of the 'Dead Parrot' sketch on Q+A this morning. Just as Michael Palin once memorably stood at a shop counter insisting that a dead bird was alive, Joyce argued that white was black when it came to the Sky City conventional centre deal.
With houses prices hitting new highs in our main cities, is the sense of economic gloom finally lifting from New Zealand? And what implications might that have for MPs?
It's been coming for a while, but QV has now confirmed that our love affair with bricks and mortar is back at record levels.
When National revealed its "law and order" policy before the last election, I wrote this post on it. Now that Judith Collins reportedly is preparing to introduce legislation to deliver that policy, here are some more thoughts.
Prior to the 2011 election, Judith Collins announced that National planned to legislate to permit the ongoing "civil detention" of offenders deemed at high risk of future sexual or violent offending even after their jail sentences were complete.
Television New Zealand and NZ On Air have managed to bring the pot of public broadcasting services back to the boil – one with its very commercial salaries, the other with more funding for “commercially attractive” local content.
TVNZ can’t afford to operate non-commercial television channels – but it can afford to pay commercially attractive salaries, with 10% of its staff earning more than $100,000, members of its top management and sales staff sharing bonuses totaling $1.8 million, and 32 employees wandering round with $10,000 credit cards. And in the real commercial world, it probably must.
The Crafar Farms sale has become a flashpoint for public concern over foreign ownership. As politicians figure out how to repsond, how can we keep the land without closing the door to business and trade?
The Overseas Investment Office's recommendation on the Crafar Farms sale is sitting on the desks of Maurice Williamson and Jonathan Coleman, ticking away like that cliched old time bomb.
I've made my submission to the Electoral Commission's MMP Review. Can you say the same?
If we think about our taxes one at a time, we might think one thing. But if you consider them all together, a different picture emerges.
Combinations matter, and can make complex things either better or worse than the sum of the individual parts. What’s that? You want a folksy introductory example? OK:
Do you like chorizo? How about asparagus? And sorbet? Yes? Then you’ll love my new chorizo and asparagus sorbet! Wait, where are you going…
National's ministers are looking shakey amidst allegations of cronyism and defamation. So who's benefitting in the polls? Um, National. So what's going on?
The latest One News-Colmar Brunton poll is a kick in the pants for Labour. After a ministerial resignation and a fortnight where the whiff of cronyism was never far from National, the governing party can still command more than 50 percent in the polls. That's astounding.
Where's the line between error and crime? If you want to be lenient towards the Lombard Four because they made a simple mistake, then hardly anyone deserves to be locked up
Just a mistake. A misjudgment. Surely not criminal. So says Stephen Franks, and I'm sure others, in response to the sentencing of the four Lombard directors this past week. The line goes that the shame, and perhaps civil damages, are as far as society should go in punishing these otherwise decent men. I'm not buying.
One of these cases is not like the other, one of these cases is not quite the same. Can you tell why?
So the police investigate a complaint by the Prime Minister against a member of the media, where it is alleged that a "private communication" was intentionally intercepted using a covert recording device.
Judith Collins is threatening defamation action against those who accuse her of leaking. But I thought you could say anything you wanted about MPs?
Just a very quick note on the announcement by Judith Collins that she will sue Trevor Mallard, Andrew Little and Radio NZ for defamation ... mainly because I've yet to see any commentary by those who ought to be talking about it ... and yes, Steven Price and Graeme Edgeler, I am looking at you.
Our tax system asks too much of those with little, and too little of those with much.
You may recall that our tax system got a major overhaul in the 2010 Budget, with income tax rates going down while GST went up. This changed substantially the shares of tax revenue being paid by poor people and by rich people. Poor people pay for more of the government than they used to, while rich people pay for less.
The police decision not to prosecute Bradley Ambrose means we'll never really know what happened at Newmarket's Urban Cafe. And that suits everyone just fine.
The term "a Solomonic judgment" is often misused. The point of King Solomon's "they-get-half-a-baby-each" decision, after all, was not actually that cleaving the infant in twain would best serve the needs of justice, but rather that proposing this outcome enabled him to see who was the child's real mother.
Nick Smith got it right, then wrong, then right again. But Is this the second or third act in the Greek tragedy that is his political career?
The loss of Nick Smith from National's top ranks has the whiff of Greek tragedy. Or perhaps a Disney cartoon. You can almost see the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Several times Smith does the right thing and refuses to get involved in a friend's ACC case. But then he relents – the devil gets in his ear – and it's all over.
French police in armed standoff with man suspected of killings at Jewish school; Obama to visit Korean border ahead of nuclear summit in Seoul; Myanmar invites US and EU to send observers for parliamentary byelections; Somali pirates free British hostage; Peru cancels UK Royal Navy visit; and more
Top of the Agenda: French Police in Standoff with Shooting Suspect
Just because you and I need to save more, who says the government needs to do the same? With cheap money around, how about we turn this whole austerity kick on its head and start talking about growth?
It's a lock. Ten out of ten. No room for doubt. Bill English is going to deliver a surplus a surplus in 2014/15 come hell or low tax take. That was the message from the Finance Minister on Q+A.
US and Britain affirm special relationship and commitment to diplomatic solution over Iran; US-UK foreign policy established after 9/11 about to end; Assad emails reveal advice from Iran, shopping sprees; South Korea-US free trade deal comes into effect; Britain may lose AAA credit rating; Ugandan victims react angrily after seeing Kony 2012; and more
Top of the Agenda: Obama, Cameron in Show of Unity
The way to get the Ports of Auckland back on track is for the Auckland City Council to step back, change its expectations and take the long view. As it stands, two key assumptions about the port are dragging it down
All the detail and distraction in the Ports of Auckland dispute make it look like a complicated industrial mess. And on one level, it is. Depending on your point of view, it's all about who controls the port, or work-life balance or bad faith bargaining. But the two central points for me come back to the Auckland Council's ownership of the port.
Our broadcasting bureaucrats are herding regional television broadcasters into using digital terrestrial transmission services. Unfortunately, the folks at home aren’t following their lead.
On the surface, New Zealand’s transition to digital TV broadcasting is going well. 83% of our homes with television have made the conversion - and we are still six months out from the date when the first of our regions says “Good Night Kiwi” to the old, spectrum-hungry era of analogue transmission.
The new Labour boss has read the public mood well by putting his name to limits on foreign ownership, but is playing his cards close to his chest on the policies that will define the first chapter of his leadership. So what policies are for the chop?
Labour MPs will feel happier than they have for some time after David Shearer's performance on Q+A this Sunday.
The first few polls of the new year and the new term are in, and together they suggest a markedly different political landscape has developed since the election.
After the election in November, pollsters took a well-deserved break for the remainder of 2011, much to the relief of politics-weary news watchers. Now that we are in 2012, however, the first few post-election polls are trickling in. We have seen four Roy Morgan polls and a TV3 poll so far, but nothing yet from TVNZ, the Herald, or Fairfax.
The first nation to give women the vote now has few women leading newspapers, businessness and political parties. So this international women's day, what can we do about that?
To uncover and address the many reasons why New Zealand women continue to be under-represented as leaders, a friend and I started Women’s Futures Month for March 2012 from our home city of Christchurch, the birthplace of the suffrage movement.
There are altenatives to selling off the SOEs, so why not look at some other options?
My summertime reading has included David Lange’s autobiography My Life. Yep I know, it’s a few years old now, but being written on his deathbed made it candid. It’s a great insight into the man, running the country and at times is hilarious.
The government says it wants to balance green growth with digging holes, but can we do both? Perhaps we should slow down, rather than end up somewhere we don't want to be
Let's call a spade a spade. Or, at least, be frank about what the government hopes to do with its spade: It wants more mining and drilling in this country – more than most New Zealanders are comfortable with. And it wants to convince you and me that's a great idea. All this talk of "discourse" and "conversation" is all strategy.
Talkshow host Rush Limbaugh has 'apologised' for his vicious, personal attack on a university student who dared to argue the case for public funding of women's contraceptive health...but it was how he did it that says so much more about him and his Republican party devotees....
It is now very clear why Republican nominee wannabe Rick Santorum disparages President Obama’s hopes that all American kids can go to university.
It is because he wants American kids to be molded in the image of that blowhard at the heart of the Republican party - Rush Limbaugh.
Why is it that New Zealand's Supreme Court thinks that foreign law helps us know what our law should be?
Pretend you are a judge ... one who has worked your way up to sitting on New Zealand's highest court. And you have a case in front of you. It is a dispute between (at least) two parties, who want you to say what you think is the correct legal resolution to their conflict.
The Electoral Commission has to review six aspects of MMP (plus whatever else the public puts before it). Here's my thoughts on the first issue: the thresholds for representation in Parliament.
Of the issues that the Electoral Commission has to look at in its review of MMP, I predict the question of what threshold a party should have to attain before getting proportional representation in Parliament will be the most fraught.
An Iranian movie embraced by Hollywood no less, has poignancy for the sort of belligerence Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu are embroiled in...if only they could see what the Screen Actors Guild could.
It appears Hollywood knows a thing or two about unintended consequences...particularly when Iran is involved.
In awarding Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’ the little golden statue for best foreign film, it should have done so with a ‘must watch’ advisory to a couple highly combative politicians – Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Israel’s Netanyahu.
With most of the difficult policy changes made, it seems Australian PM Julia Gillard is now tidying house. Opponent Kevin Rudd is being swept to the backbenches to clear the path to the 2013 elections
I worked as a National Organiser for the Australia Labor Party during the Hawke years, when Kevin Rudd was a functionary in the office of the leader of the ALP in Queensland and Julia Gillard was the current or just departed president of the Australian Union of Students and active in the majority socialist left faction of the ALP in Victoria.
The latest opinion polls raise the prospect of a scenario that's new to modern New Zealand politics – the party that comes second leading the government. And it's something we need to front early
Two polls this week show support for National slipping, reinforcing my belief that not only has National missed out on any sort of honeymoon after November's election, but its popularity has likely peaked under John Key, never again to reach those heady days of 2009, or even late last year.
Greece gets its next bailout – but do the same problems remain? Greek debt to drop from 160% to 120.5% of GDP; Iran warns of pre-emptive strike is national interests threatened; Americans see Iran as 'top enemy'; Whole classrooms of school children forced to fight in Somalia; South Korea conducts provoctive military drill; Burma junta lifts campaigning restrictions; and more
Top of the Agenda: Eurozone Approves New Greek Bailout
The American economy must be on the improve, which explains why Republicans have entered the country's bedrooms in a desperate bid to demonise Obama as the destroyer of the constitutional right to freedom of religion. At least they are kidding themselves.
Just when Americans need strong political debate offering alternatives to Obama’s policies, the Republicans have locked themselves in the bedroom.
If the Greens thought the past three years were challenging, just wait for the next three. They – and Labour – need to figure out a new way of growing the centre-left bloc without tearing each other to pieces
If her speech is anything to go by, it was a confident and combative Metiria Turei who took to the stage at the Greens' policy conference in Palmerston North yesterday, looking over what the new Greens had created and declaring "it was very good". And why not?
Was “The Prime Minister’s Hour” on Radio Live a prohibited election programme? The Electoral Commission says “yes” – the Broadcasting Standards Authority says “no”. And the row needs to be resolved.
Broadcasting Standards Authority chair Peter Radich blames the Broadcasting Act. He says it is “old and open to interpretation” He is right on both counts – but wrong on the central issue raised in the row over Prime Minister John Key’s hour-long stint as a show host on Radio Live in the run-up to the last election.
Politicians have been arguing that black is white this week, showing that they're about as connected to reality as a two year-old chasing dragons
I've spent a lot of time with my two year-old son this summer, often in a rich, if exhausting, world of imagination. There are dragons, animal rescues, and more, but sometimes he worries that I'm not quite getting the game and he reassures me that "it's just 'tending Daddy".
National is caught on the wrong side of an argument it doesn't want to be having, because it's already busy losing another argument it doesn't want to be having. Know what I mean?
As I've just written in part one of this post, Justice Miller's decision on the Crafar Farms keeps the debate on overseas ownership alive a little longer and over-turns the prevailing wisdom in Wellington. But where does it leave the government?
Justice Miller put on his radical robes yesterday and turned the prevailing view of foreign investment on its head. So what does it mean for the overseas ownership debate and the Crafar Farms deal?
Privilege – that's what it's all about. You've got to earn it. The ruling by Justice Forrie Miller to set aside the government's decision to allow the sale of the Crafar Farms to Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin has turned on its head the political – and, it seems, legal – assumptions about foreign ownership of our most sensitive assets.
Greek austerity package doesn't go far enough, says head of eurozone finance ministers group; Joe Biden criticises China's Xi Jinping over human rights abuses, intellectual property theft and devalued currency; Iranians arrested and charged over attempted bomb attack in Bangkok; Pakistan's Musharraf accused of knowing Osama bin Laden's hideout; UN asks for aid access to Sudan; economy remains biggest US election issue; and more
Top of the Agenda: New Doubts Over Greek Bailout Deal
Suspicion that Iran is responsible for bomb attacks on Israeli embassies are no more - or less - credible than suspicion Israel has assassinated a number of Iran's top nuclear scientists. True or not, they should be pause for thought, not cause for war.
It is no surprise at all that Israel has blamed Iran for the bombs targeting Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Georgia.
Where it does become difficult is assessing whether Israel will consider suspicion of Iran as casus belli for launching its desperately wanted attack on the nascent nuclear state.
I wrote a book! (I know, I am as surprised as you...) Casey Plunket from Chapman Tripp says parts of it suck. I say otherwise.
Late last year, the Institute of Policy Studies published my book about tax in New Zealand.
Now that the rather pointless referendum on keeping MMP is over and done with, the real work starts. You have to play your part, too.
We all know that Pundit readers are the best, most informed, wisest and subscribe to the highest possible standards of personal hygiene in the entire blogosphere.
(Yeah, Kiwipolitico ... I'm looking at you and asking when you last cleaned under your fingernails?)
Dozens killed in sixth day of Homs crackdown; Arab League to return to Syria, perhaps with UN observers; Analysis – so what should be done with Syria?; Greeks government parties reach austerity deal, EU ministers meeting to discuss; Israel and US disgree on Iran threat; Amensty claims Russia & China breaking arms embargo in Darfur; Further improvements in Burma?; and more
Top of the Agenda: Syrian Forces Bombard Homs for Sixth Day
Iwi may be steaming over the Government’s plans to convert State-owned enterprises into “Mixed Ownership” businesses - but so will the country’s “Mum and Dad” investors when they find out what the iwi are being told.
Everyone should read the iwi consultation paper on the Governnent’s plan to convert the four energy sector State-owned enterprises into “Mixed Ownership” businesses with 49% of their shares in private hands.
Putting the Prime Minister on the radio for an hour to show listeners what a nice guy he is "appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for a political party or the election of any person at an election". Who'd a thunk it?
Just a very quick note on the Electoral Commission's decision to refer the "Prime Minister's Hour" on Radio Live to the Police as a potential breach of the Broadcasting Act.
Yet again parents are coddled to within an inch of plausability, this time over breastfeeding
Good grief. Piri Weepu is shown bottle-feeding his six-month-old daughter Taylor on an anti-smoking ad, and somehow this image of nurturing and positive fathering is construed as an attack on breastfeeding. As my nearly-three-year-old would say, "What?!"
Another national day, another chance for us to feel out who we are as New Zealanders. And another day of protest. But those who condemn the protests should stop whining and stop to think what really matters to us as a nation
As the sun sets on another Waitangi Day, I want to offers three cheers – one for Prime Minister John Key, one for the Waitangi protesters and one for all New Zealanders who got out and enjoyed themselves.
Treasury's advice to Bill English is nothing if not clear – it's time to cut. So does its briefing to the incoming minister make its case? Or rather miss the point entirely? What do you think...
Reading a Treasury briefing can be a morbid experience; they are the bureaucratic embodiment of cynicism, seeing the price of everything and the value of nothing. The latest offering to the incoming minister makes you wonder whether the word "invest" is simply too long for the Treasury analysts, so they fall back on a nice short one – "cut".
Diplomacy is failing Syrians as Russia rejects the latest UN Security Council draft resoltuion aimed at stopping al-Assad's brutal crackdown on his own people. Russia's threat of veto is within UN rules, but a rising Syrian death toll is a consequence that's tough to justify.
While the United Nations Security Council panders to Russia’s demands over what it will and will not permit be done with Syria, the killing squads of Bashar al-Assad systematically get on with the job of eliminating those who dare to question the regime.
New battle-lines are being drawn between New Zealand’s major free-to-air television networks and NZ On Air as the networks seek more State support for “commercially attractive” local programmes.
A fresh release of documents obtained under the Official Information Act highlight the tension between the public service obligations of funding agency NZ On Air and the commercial imperatives now driving our two major television networks.
Canada's justice system has confirmed (again) that there is no such thing as an 'honour killing', but (again) rejection of this twisted, controlling, patriachal notion of honour comes way too late for the latest four victims...all from one immigrant family.
The three month-long trial of a Montreal man, his second wife and his son has finally ended with the Afghanistan-born trio being found guilty of murdering three of the family’s girls and the first wife.
The Crafar farms sale is a canny deal with undoubted benefits for New Zealand. So why the fuss? Because each sale of productive land offshore raises questions about our future economically and as Kiwis
Anyone at all surprised by the sale of the 16 Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin? Thought not. It was utterly predictable for two reasons – 1) that company offered far and away the most money and 2) the company offers export opportunities into China at a juncture in history New Zealand when we stand or fall on our ability to sell protein to that country.
Chrischurch City Council CEO Tony Maryatt gets a 14% pay rise to $540,000 when people are still using toilets in the street? Where's the spirit of the blitz? Because true leadership speaks of sacrifice
From a distance, Canterbury politics look as swampy as the land the city is built on. Environment Canterbury argued for so many years about a plan for its own water supply that it was taken over by government. Now, Christchurch City Council's incredibly clumsy support for a pay rise for its CEO is prompting complaints about dysfunction and disunity.
In which you give us your name and address and we perhaps give you a great day out on Monday, January 30
It's running late, so this is probably, really, kinda only for people in Auckland and surrounds... But if you and a friend like to go to the Laneway Festival on Monday (Akld anniversary) and don't want to spend $127 per ticket, we've got two pairs of tickets to give away (that's four tickets, folks).
The Taliban are planning to set up shop in Qatar – but in a good way. They'll have a physical address that could open the door to serious peace talks on Afghanistan and spark hopes of future stability
In the long, miserable story of what was once called "the war on terror", it's hard to identify turning points. Since the foolhardy US invasion of Afghanistan in particular, it's been hard to find many gems of hope in that trash-heap of a war – until this month, that is.
In which the author seeks to have the New Zealand legal community do his job for him.
I've been asked by a colleague at an overseas law school to contribute to a special issue of their journal. The topic for the issue is: "The worst decision by a nation's top court of the last 25 years."
NZ on Air wants to stop people thinking they are biased in a partisan way. So why are they being accused of acting in a way that shows partisan bias?
Over on Scoop, Tom Frewen has done a commendable bit of digging into NZ on Air's response to TV3's decision to screen the documentary "Inside Child Poverty" – a NZ on Air funded documentary highly critical of successive governments' policy on the issue – 4 d
The debate over TV3's scheduling of Inside Child Poverty should prompt us to get back to some pretty basic core principles surrounding independence
Scoop yesterday lived up to its name and revealed New Zealand on Air minutes showing that the government's broadcasting funding agency is, in journalist Tom Frewen's words, considering "a move to censor television programmes likely to embarrass the government dur
In which the government invites anyone who can pay enough into our offshore marine environment. The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill does not "protect and preserve" the environment. It states its price
TAG Oil is very excited. It wants to turn the East Coast of the North Island – “literally leaking oil and gas”!! – into the “Texas of the south”, hosting thousands of oil wells.
So Destiny Church has finally found a new home. But is that any reason we should help fund it? On the other hand, if other faiths get a go, why not them?
The Destiny Church's plan to build a new "city" in Wiri, South Auckland is following what's become a tried and true path for any stories involving Brian Tamaki's controversial movement – Tamaki utters hyperbole aimed at believers, media report said hyperbole to wider audience, a
Bashar al-Assad lashes out at Arab League in rare TV address, refuses to step down; Arab League key to getting Syria sanctions through UN; Aung San Suu Kyi to run for parliament in Burmese elections; China and South Korea agree aim of "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula"; Greece pressured to settle private debt deals or miss EU bailout; Iran's latest uranium enrichment is "further escalation" says US; and more
Top of the Agenda: Assad Criticizes Arab League
Amongst the news of crashes and weather, one story of immense significance to New Zealand has been widely ignored... The US has reviewed its defence priorities and is moving back into our neighbourhood big-time. This offers huge risks and opportunities
At the start of President Obama's first term there was talk of him being the first "Pacific President" – being born in Hawaii and schooled in Indonesia gave him a rare westward view of the world, a perspective that's different from the focus on Europe and the Middle-East, which dominates on America's east coast.
John Key’s hottest line from the last election campaign could come back to haunt him as he ploughs ahead with the expansion of the “Mixed Ownership Model” by selling shares in a batch of state-owned assets.
The new National-led Government delivered a fine present as it shut down for Christmas – a big dump of official documents on its plans to extend what it calls the “Mixed Ownership Model”. The Sale of the Century is scheduled to start in the third quarter this year and continue all the way through to next election in 2014.
The election may be ancient history by now, but the controversy over the recorded conversation between John Key and John Banks is still brewing away. See what I did there?
Given that the misnamed "tea tapes" (I guess "tea digitally recorded conversation" is a bit much of a mouthful) was one of the two most important things to ha
On December 30 I wrote a draft of this for myself. I was not going to post it. This changed my mind: The Joy of Quiet, published the same day in the New York Times
Today, 38 years too late, I grasped an important fact. I seem to be living on some sort of a different planet. I am here in body (more or less, depending) but somewhere else, in my soul.
The death of Stratos Television last week is a sad, bad story – and we have not seen the end of it.
At 11:00am on Friday, 23 December, Stratos Television vanished quietly from the programme menus offered by the Sky, Freeview, and Telstra Clear distribution networks.
Wrapping up this year and looking ahead a bit to the next
The year's winding right down now, and thanks the stars 2011 is over. Happy to see it go by. Eleanor and I are off for a few days at the beach before our second child is due.
The other pundits are all able to post if they can muster the energy – thanks for your work today Mike! But I imagine it'll be meagre bloggy rations here at Pundit for the next week or so.
Labour failed to learn National's lesson from 2002 and paid the price, so it's now time for the party to get start selling Brand Shearer
A wise old mate once told me that if you want to understand any industry, enterprise or activity, just do the worst job it has to offer. There can't be any worse job in politics than being a scrutineer at a recount where your candidate slowly, vote by miscounted vote, loses a tenuous hold on an electorate.
Arab League observers met by protesters in Homs as Syrian peace deal begins; At least 30 killed in clashes the day before (+ analysis); North Korea calls for for economic investment; World leaders label Nigeria Christmas bombings "cowardly" and "senseless"; More Russian protests draw out Putin; Brazil's economy now bigger than Britain's; and more
Top of the Agenda: Arab Monitors in Syria
Lookee here, Santa has come early for all those boys and girls in parliament. So what did he bring the politicians? Did they get what they wanted – and what they deserved? Let's sneak a cheeky peak
Just two sleeps until Christmas. Can you hear the sleigh bells? So what's underneath the political Christmas tree this year? I know, they haven't all been good boy and girls, but let's just assume they all deserve something for their dedicated public service.
How New Zealand is protecting its next generation clearly isn't working. Norm Hewitt, former All Black-turned-children's champion, is urging all New Zealanders to "say something" on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, and change the end of the story for 160,000 at-risk Kiwi kids
It’s almost New Year, and so 2011 is over. It’s been a tough year for our children, our tamariki, with several appalling cases of child abuse in the headlines.
The Occupy Dunedin camp has folded. Now a judge has told Auckland's version to do the same. So it goes.
The "Occupy Aotearoa" movement (if it ever really deserved such a grand title) looks to be dwindling away to nothing. Yesterday, the last few tents were taken down in Dunedin's Octagon, as the protest members decided to vacate the area to allow for unimpeded Christmas and New Years celebrations.
All of the government’s signs are pointing the same way: relocating conservation and the Department of Conservation within the “natural resources” sector, the better to “streamline and simplify” its activities
Last year we learned that the Conservation Minister and the Energy and Resources Minister would both decide about giving access to conservation land for mining. One has an interest in the minerals beneath, the other in the land and the creatures who live there, on behalf of us: the public, the land holders.
The election is over, so the work begins. Labour has its new face in David Shearer, but now has a mountain to climb to win 5-10% of National's voters over to its side (and a few back from the Greens). So how does it do that?
Labour's choice of David Shearer as the party's new leader represents a fair bit of gauntlet and a hell of a gamble. The gamble is obvious – you have to go back to founder Harry Holland in 1919 to find Labour choosing a leader with less parliamentary experience.
In preference to weeping, I try to count conservation blessings, and plan my new career as a lobbyist
Although a National government has been returned, in a way Kiwis did “vote for Nature” as Forest & Bird's election campaign asked. The prospects for Nature in the next three years are bleak, but all is not lost. A battle or two might be won by lobbying.
With the specials about to be announced, what are the ramifications for the new government? And what's likely to happen next?
Won't tomorrow be fun? It's like election day all over again. Except National may not enjoy this one as much as two weeks ago.
Yes, the specials are confirmed tomorrow and the final shape of parliament will be known. Plus, the small matter of our electoral system will be decided.
Area men, women panic as Key, Banks unveil December surprise.
Charter schools are coming. Should we be concerned? I think there are some reasons to be cautious about charter schools, but they are not the reasons that have dominated the New Zealand commentariat.
"Charter schools will only select great students"
The global green change needed is desperately urgent. Paradoxically, the fastest and best way to achieve it locally might be more tortoise than hare
The Greens have made a feature out of slow, but steady, organic growth.
Having entered Parliament in the Alliance, gained independence in 1999 with an electorate win in Coromandel, maintained (sometimes precariously) a core vote above the 5 percent threshold, the party has now elected two new co-leaders and sworn in a whole second generation of MPs.
This year's National-ACT supply and confidence deal goes futher than the previous one, prompting a lot of indignant questions about ideology, economic management and choice... and a few examples of hypocrisy
Is that the whiff of ideology in the wind? The National-ACT supply and confidence deal will lead John Key's second term government off the first term's more pragmatic road and down some very rocky by-ways indeed.
The battle for the Labour leadership was first waged in caucus (Shearer), then on TV (Cunliffe). This week it moves to the regions as remains tight. So who does John Key fear most? And why do I keep thinking of Obama & Clinton?
The Labour leadership race is closer than is being spun, in part because Phil Goff's people still have their hands on the spin levers and Goff is backing David Shearer. As in any election, this race will come down to the undecideds.
Iran's hurtling towards being a diplomatic outcast raises cause for serious concern about what is really going on within the country politically, and the impact domestic tensions are having on furthering Iran's nuclear arms ambitions and consequently, its dangerous isolationism.
It is very difficult to believe that the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran was a spontaneous act by a group of young men who suddenly decided to teach the Brits a lesson for ratcheting up sanctions against the nascent nuclear state.
In which I try explaining why the Greens are neither left nor right, why they never have been, and why that is important to their future and ours
The Greens will never be an environment party, and have never been a left-wing party. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand is neither left nor right because that is what their charter says, what their policy shows, and what the existential global challenge, that is their raison d’etre, requires.
Central banks are trying to get money moving again, but it could all be too little, too late for Europe as the final countdown begins (not as cool as Andrew's musical references, but see what I did there children of the '80s?)
In the Matrix films you get a sense of deja vu when the machines controlling your experience of the world change something. In real life, you get the uncanny sense that you've said and done exactly the same things before as the powers-that-be refuse to change.
The news declared that the National Party had had a 'historic' election victory on Saturday but, if that was true, National Party people would be looking happier. The reality is much more complicated
Here's the bullet-point version, to begin:
So the names for the Labour leadership are now in the hat. The caucus has a decent buffet to choose from, but need to remember it's not all about them
It's hard to know what to say about Labour's leadership tussle. There's a logic inside the beltway and even inside the caucus room that doesn't always translate to the rest of the country. But it's the rest of the country the caucus needs to keep front of mind.
The Greens’ vibe has changed, but have they lost grip on values with a small and large V? For all the strengths and wins of the 2011 election campaign, it also failed
My new theory of the Greens is recycled. The new thing is the old thing, really.
In 2011 we changed some things, and won some votes: not a world-changing number of votes, but a historic number, enough for some more Green growth.
Get the latest election information as it becomes available, without having to watch the box
Happy election night!
Let's take a look at the seats you might want to take a look at tomorrow night
It's MMP and it's all about the party vote, of course. But this election a bunch of electorate seats actually look really interesting. And it's not just the obvious ones.
The stand-out two are Epsom and Ohariu because entire parties - and coalition partners for National - depend on them. Can ACT and United Future, respectively, stay alive?
Only hours to go, so let's take a run through all the parties and see where we stand. You've got to say, there are a lot of known unknowns
Well, it's nearly here. A short and sharp campaign that, regardless of the result, has changed the policy landscape for the next election or three and intensified the 2014 race. Let's run through what we've learnt since the All Blacks won the World Cup.
Five more polls this week. Four today. Little change. National can govern alone. Winston will not make it (but it could be close).
Five new polls have come out since we last updated our poll of polls. Four of them came in the last 24 hours. Together, they show National continuing to be able to govern alone, according to our latest estimates (available on the left hand side of the pundit front page). We estimate National will win 52% of the vote tomorrow, giving them 67 seats.
Well ... by "revolution", I mean the election results. And by "televised", I mean livestreamed on the internet. But ... exciting!
Bryce Edwards teaches over at the Politics Department here at Otago. It would be fair to say that he's been somewhat active in commentating on this election campaign.
Picking winners in the Maori electorates isn't an easy game. The Pundits are sometimes guilty of picking the losing horse and the polls tend to do no better. Today guest Pundit Morgan Godfery offers his picks in the Maori seats
With only a few days left until polling day I thought I’d give you a run down on my picks for the Maori seats. Some of the most interesting battles are happening in the Maori seats, or so I think anyway, and the ramifications of a Maori Party win or a Mana Movement win are significant.
The Conservatives a laid a platform for 2014 this campaign, coming from nowhere to be a polling party. It won't be an easy road ahead for them - or National, as its potential partner
It's been tough being Conservative this campaign. With a capital C that is. Being conservative is de rigueur this election. But the nascent party being built with Colin Craig's millions has had a tough time getting attention.
Fear and greed may be the motivating emotions in the market place, but information is the life-blood of democracy. The voters of 2011 need a transfusion before they visit the polling booth on Saturday.
At this very late stage of the campaign, the biggest fear of every political party has to be a low turnout.
Phil Goff took over as interviewer at times and generated the news headlines in tonight's final TV debate. But a measured John Key stood firm and calm as he rammed home his anti-debt message
Phil Goff had the details and the studio craft, but after a nervous start John Key had the authority. It's one of the things that a Prime Minister gains simply by going into work every day - and Key got the tone right to edge Goff in tonight's debate. Not that the legacy of his night's work won't have ramifications.
Just days before Egypt's first truly democratic elections since the ouster of Mubarak, the interim ruling generals have exposed their self-interest, and responded to the resulting protests by firing on the very people who considered them heroes just nine months ago.
Egyptians sure are learning the hard way that their military, which only nine months ago proclaimed itself to be ‘of the people’ is really ‘of itself’ and lead by a brassed-up Mubarak sans the charisma.
Goff got a Labour-friendly debate and Key a National-friendly panel on tonight's TV3 leaders' debate. Given voters' low expectations of the Labour leader, it was his night as the worm ate him up with a spoon
For me, Goff won three of the four segments, but Key finished strongest; Goff won on policy, Key won on coalitions.That's my call on the TV3 debate this evening.
National is going after Winston Peters with all guns blazing. This must mean that they really are scared of him ... right?
The start of the last week of the campaign seems to have moved on from Teapot-not-quite-gate to "what about Winston?" ... and more particularly, "what happens if he is back in Parliament?" ... and even more particularly, "what happens if he is back in Parliament and holds the balance of power?"
In the final week of the election campaign, it's all about set-pieces, especially on television. Can the main leaders keep their heads and hit their marks as the pressure hits fever pitch?
Five days to go and the stages have been set; the only question left is how the leaders will handle their lines.
What do we know about how the campaign will evolve over the next few days? Quite a lot already, as it happens.
Despite some excitement in individual polls, the polls as a whole show National still well above 50%, and New Zealand First still a long way below 5%.
There have been four polls published since we updated the Poll of Polls last Monday. Our updated estimates show continuing trends against National and Labour (each of whom drop about half a point this week), and in favour of the Greens (who gain most of a point). We now estimate the Greens at almost 11% support and climbing.
The tea tape is making even sensible people like David Farrar say some pretty silly things. Lucky I'm here to put him back on course.
Despite the various calls to "move on" from Teapot-not-quite-gate, it's still bubbling away (see what I did there?) And it's producing some strange reactions in people who normally you can rely on to be sane and sensible in a crisis.
Little more than a week out, National is still holding a majority in the polls. It's time to talk about what it means if that's how it winds up on election night
So, let's just say it out loud, shall we? What do you think about National governing alone? Well, not precisely alone because they will wear a fig leaf of coalition deals with United Future, the Maori Party and perhaps ACT, if voters permit. But what do New Zealanders think about the prospect of having a single party having a majority of votes in the House?
It took the Labour Party an age to release its Maori policy statement, but the wait may have been worth it. Guest Pundit Morgan Godfery discusses Labour's risky move
With the tea tapes dominating political discussion at the moment, you’re forgiven if you find this post a little bland. I’m going to deal with a dry topic – Maori policy.
The police "seizing" material from the news media isn't that big a deal. [Update: except for the bit that is ...]
Just a very quick post on what I think the Police are up to in serving search warrants on news organisations for material relating to "Teapotgate" (there you go, Steven Price).
John Key's famous cup of tea is at risk of leaving a sour taste as the story drags on and public opinion turns. But what does it mean for the election?
The teapot tape fuss seems to have turned in the past 24 hours; not in John Key's favour and not entirely due to anything he's done wrong.
At least 70 killed in latest Syrian protests; Arab League to suspend Syria, despite foreign minister warning against "dangerous step"; Italy bond yields again top 7%; Gillard wants to sell uranium to India; Calls for Burmese political prisoners to be released; Libyan tribal tensions grow after Qaddafi; and more
Top of the Agenda: Syrian Security Forces Clash with Opposition
John Key's decision to speak out against MMP smells of partisan greed and hubris. It also raises questions for women, Asian and Pasifika voters and about what his tactics have been all along
I was staggered to hear on television Prime Minister John Key say that although he was "not entirely unhappy" with MMP, he intended to vote for change. The PM said while he likes proportionality, he "slightly prefers the characteristics of Supplementary Member (SM)".
You can kiss an issues-based election campaign goodbye.
Natural and international disasters have absolved National of the usual competency tests, but do New Zealanders really want a single party majority government?
As polls continue to show National postioned to govern alone just two weeks out from the election, voters are going to have to confront a stark choice. Do they want any government, let alone this one, to govern on its own.
Here's my suggestion to politicians. If you want to plot the takeover of the world without people finding out about it, don't do it in a Newmarket Cafe.
For what was meant to be a short photo-op designed to remind the good folk of Epsom of their duty to Party and Nation, the cup of tea between John Key and John Banks has all turned a bit Alice in Wonderland.
Winston Peters wins the oxygen of media attention and gets back in the game. But do we really want him back? Or has his time passed?
Is Winston Peters the luckiest main in New Zealand right now?
He should make sure he buys a lotto ticket this weekend, because lady luck has settled on his shoulder.
A pre-emptive strike on Iran will blow apart the Middle East, and Israel will suffer long and hard. Don't do it.
The world’s nuclear watchdog report arguing “credible proof” Iran might be capable of producing a nuclear warhead has sparked dangerous chat of a military pre-emptive strike to take out the Ayatollah’s baby.
The Epsom candidates' debate last night drew out the bizarreness of a race where the frontrunner would rather lose and the ACT candidate is rallying behind the leader of another party. At least the unacknowledged presence in this race was finally discussed by name
It had all the fun a candidates debate should: ACT's John Banks said Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia - enemies on most policies - were high quality MPs and a great ad for MMP; Davia Parker said Labour should have introduced a capital gains tax when last in power, but was not brave enough; Paul Goldsmith said it was tough to be a man and wanted to be a man's MP; Green David Hay sang a Dear John
It hasn't been the most scintillating of election campaigns, but is it really necessary to rate the sex appeal of our politicians in an effort to enliven proceedings?
When David Farrar asked the question on Facebook, "Should a journalism school be asking the question of its students, 'what politician would they most like to fuck'," I thought he was kidding. But the link he provided backed up the poser.
The Greens' success could be down to Labour's struggles or a sign of the times. But it could also be down to a carefully crafted game plan that seems to be pushing all the right buttons
As the days roll by and the Greens retain their giddy, double-digit heights in the polls, it's time to wonder whether the perennial underperformers have finally cracked it and convinced a new cohort of voters that the party can be trusted with their vote.
Dunedin's police will not be moving to evict the Occupy Dunedin protest. Good on Dunedin's police.
I don't often get things right. I thought the All Blacks would put 20 points or more on the French in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (TM) final. I predicted Alpha Plan would be the next U2 - and if you don't know who I mean, you weren't there, man.
Organisation will be key to winning the Maori seat on the Auckland isthmus. But guest Pundit Morgan Godfery says even Labour's well-oiled turn-out machine will find Pita Sharples tough to topple
Shane Jones knows it's do or die in Tamaki Makaurau. A win equals redemption; a loss spells the end of his career.
If you know someone very well might do a bad thing in the future, then why wait until they do it before punishing them?
Here's one of those moral-dilemma situations that get put to philosophy 101 students to illustrate the variety of forms of moral reasoning. You've got a group of (say) five people who have almost served their jail sentences for a crime.
Even if you think it's smart to stimulate the sharemarket and create some capital, is it the right time to sell portions of our state assets? It's a telling question and you'll be surprised who asked it
Voters don't like it, don't want it, but the polls say they'll most likely go along with it – National's plan to sell off chunks of five state assets.
National aggressively points the finger at Labour while admitting $2.6b in mistakes under its breath.
Did you enjoy your weekend of dorky people with dueling fiscal spreadsheets and confused reporters trying to play umpire? Me neither. The latest as at 5:46pm Sunday is that National has another, newer spreadsheet, which says the cost of Labour’s policies is $15.6b.
The Dunedin City Council has tired of the Occupy Dunedin protest and wants it gone. So why is it still there?
The Occupy [Insert Place Name Here] protest movement has sparked a whole lot of head scratching "but what does it all mean?" analysis, without yet reaching any widely accepted conclusions.
It's his way or the highway for Winston Peters, after a speech today ruling New Zealand First out of government. Either the disgruntled rally to his flag or he's history
That may be the sound of the door slamming on Labour's vain election hopes. Winston Peters has just announced that he won't enter a government with anyone after this election. Not National or Labour. Or the cat's mother, for that matter. To quote his speech:
National is still defying gravity in the first polls of the campaign proper. But there are talking points emerging on the right and potential decisions looming for John Key
Ok, two polls late today, but one clear message. While the green shoots of spring are popping up around the country, it's still winter in Labour-land. While the party can't have expected a serious swing so soon, it must feel as if someone has just burst its balloon. It would have hoped for some sign of change.
TVNZ 7 will end in June 2012 when its funding runs out. This will make NZ the only developed country without a Public Service Broadcaster, but it doesn't have to be this way
New Zealand’s only dedicated public service television channel, TVNZ 7, will cease in 2012. The government has chosen to discontinue it’s funding.
Is National really what it seems on welfare reform? I don't know about you, but I'm getting really mixed messages. I'm also not sure the second child/one year policy will survive the election
So National's welfare policy is out. I'm not in a position to piece together much analysis, but here are some pointed thoughts:
The US hissy fit punishment of UNESCO for its recognition of Palestine makes even more of a mockery of America's continuing role in Middle East peace negotiations.
UNESCO’s vote to recognise Palestine is gutsy on the part of the UN body, symbolic yet encouraging for the Palestinians and very revealing with respect to the lip service paid to democracy by the United States and those who cling to its increasingly shredded skirts.
Greek PM promises referendum on bailout, putting EU on edge; Global markets drop sharply on news; MPs walk out on Greek government, new election likely (+ analysis); Libya's NTC chooses engineer as new PM; Taliban claims it set Kandahar bomb that killed seven; US slams UNESCO on Palestine vote; China launches spacecraft; and more
Top of the Agenda: Greek Referendum Complicates Euro Rescue
How much breeding counts as “breeding for a business?” And what’s in a “work requirement?” The answers may surprise.
National released its new welfare policies yesterday, to a chorus of approval from the Get Tough brigade. The speeches were their style! Hiding in the actual policy, however, are some pretty odd policy choices. Here are two:
Breeding for a business
Consider these two families:
In an exclusive interview with European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, a glimpse of how far Europe still has to go to purge its demons
I'll let you in on a secret. Jean-Claude Trichet is considered something of a heart-throb in the CNBC newsroom in London. To which some of you might say, Jean-Claude who? I'm not talking about the 'Muscles from Brussels', Jean-Claude van Damme; this Jean-Claude is more like the 'Neon from Lyon', if you'll excuse the stretch.
Remember the Bush-Gore debates in 2000? We may see the same thing in NZ with the 2011 Election debates. Goff would have surpassed the expectations of many, but that doesn't necessarily win elections
I'm suprised by the commentators who have talked about John Key winning last nights One News Election debate. It's true that there were no killing blows and on points of substance the Prime Minister often seemed more authoritative. Thing is, that's not what people takeaway from a debate such as this.
Reid Research runs a good poll. Pity TV3’s reporting of it doesn't match.
Duncan Garner’s report on TV3’s latest poll was poorly done. I usually think our TV political journos do a reasonable job despite their lack of familiarity with the statistical concepts they are reporting on. Not today.
A question to Q+A about those welfare bludgers emphasises why the conversation about superannuation reform is so vital... but also comes with risk
I wrote this post for TVNZ yesterday, but wanted to share all of it with Pundit readers, because it's something we've discussed more than once and several of you have really helped me get my head around this... It's why superannuation matters, how it's perceived as the "good welfare" and how the real problem we face is from the "bad welfare". Anyway, here 'tis:
The opening addresses for three of the political parties were on TV tonight. So how did they sound on the radio?
For the past few months I've been living without TV. Actually, there is a TV upstairs, attached to a DVD player that plays box-sets of shows like Treme and Luther. And teh interwebz brings me all sorts of contemporary programmes direct to my computer screen (all sourced, I hasten to note, from legitimate websites that in no way involve any form of copyright infringement).
Contributions to the Super Fund have been suspended since 2009, until the country is back in the black. But does the logic behind that decision make any sense at all?
Amongst Labour's ground-breaking announcement that it will campaign on raising the retirement age and introducing compulsory Super, another major decision got little attention.
The Opposition says it will also kick-start government contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund, which were suspended by National in 2009.
EU leaders reach deal on debt crisis--Asian and European markets rise as a result; Angela Merkel is getting credit for her calm approach to the crisis; US says there is no indication North Korea is serious about ending nuclear weapons programme; Qaddafi's fugitive son gives himself up, asks for flight to The Hague; World Bank offers Peru $3 billion to sustain economic growth; Ireland holds presidential election; and more
Top of the Agenda: EU Leaders Reach Deal on Debt Crisis
Labour's big bang campaign strategy is high risk... But is there a bigger plan at play here?
Timing is everything. Whether it comes down to the woman of your dreams, the perfect job or when you get into the All Blacks, timing is of the essence. It's the same in politics.
And Labour is rolling the dice when it comes to the timing of its policy announcements and campaign strategy.
National wants to deny prisoners the right to any compensation whilst behind bars, but a shameful attack in 1993 raises questions about the messages such a law sends
When Simon Power tabled his Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Amendment Bill on October 13, it brought to mind one of the most shameful incidents of the New Zealand prison system.
Through the looking glass with ACT’s Stephen Whittington, to a world where rich folk form a political party that exists only to help poor folk.
ACT’s future looks bleak this year under the leadership of Don “I’ll just leave the country for a week in the middle of my election campaign” Brash and John “not quite a Lazarus of Epsom” Banks.
What do the anti-capitalist protesters in London actually want? They compare themselves to the Arab Spring, but it all sounds a bit vague
It’s getting colder in London. We had a lingering summer, but that is over. Not such a great time to be on the streets for any longer than you have to.The central heating goes on and the thick duvet is very welcome.
Rugby World Cup 2011 has been a blast, reminding ourselves how good we can be. And being at Eden Park from 7am on the day of the final is a very special memory
I've just come from Eden Park on the morning of the Rugby World Cup final, and I've got to say it was a treat to be there in the silence and calm, knowing that in 12 hours the place will be a cauldron of hope, nerves and excitement.
The revolutionary who turned mad and bad, has, after eight months been stopped in his tracks – literally. Everyday Libyan citizens who fought for freedom from tyranny, now have their chance. Their challenges however, are massive
The guys who went to war in their family cars have won. They have liberated Libya, with a good deal of NATO help, and are their nation’s heroes.
What educationalists in New Zealand can learn from newspapers in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times has produced a detailed set of estimates about how much value each teacher in Los Angeles adds to their classroom. That is hugely valuable information. New Zealand’s education establishment should be doing something similar.
Small business owners join workers as strikes shutdown Greece; EU leaders to announce expanded rescue fund (+ analysis); Moody's downgrades "vulnerable" Spain by two notches; Turks strike back after Kurdish rebels kill 26 troops; IMF picks six percent growth in sub-Saharan Africa; Chinese scientist admits stealing trade secrets; and more
Top of the Agenda: Greek Workers Go on Strike
National, Labour, the Greens and ACT have all set out on different routes to victory in the country's toriest seat. The billboards dotted around the electorate lay the strategies bare
A drive around the Epsom electorate is a study in campaign strategy. Here, the machinations of the country's best political minds are painted in vivid colour.
At last, some major policy announcements. And not just any old BPAs, but arguably the biggest ones of all -- savings and wages. Two sides of the same indebted coin and at the heart of building a prosperous New Zealand
It's the day of the 'big policy announcements' (BPAs). The major parties at least must be confident of an All Blacks victory, as they both seem to have decided that we're capable of ignoring the rugby for a few minutes at least.
We're too dependent on our phones, right? Obsessed. But when you're cut off, all you can do is spend all that down-time coming up with conspiracy theories. As BlackBerry has found out after its (almost) worldwide outage
A slight clammy feeling. General anxiety. A sense that something is missing or out of place. Heightened frustration or even distress.
Is the government responsible for the Rena disaster? Is it to blame? Does it matter?
Since the Rena ran aground and began spilling oil and other nastiness into the Bay of Plenty, there has been a lot of finger pointing at the government. Was it prepared? Was the response too slow to get going? Was the response good enough?
If torturing a prisoner will lead to more money for victims of crime, then isn't that a good thing to have happen?
The other week, Justice Minister Simon Power gave a fantastic valedictory speech to the House. It capped off a lot of good things that he has done - in particular, I admire how he has handled the issue of changes to electoral finance rules and setting up the referendum on MMP.
We're under attack, but we are doing all we can to put up some walls. Still, I'm taking bets on how long it'll be before some spammer adds a comment to this post...
You will have notice that recently we've become the the focus of a deluge of spam. We are working on this, and I'm really sorry to you all that you're having to suffer this. Sorry again.
Still, could be worse... At least you haven't spent half the evening deleting hundreds of fake member accounts from the past two months, as I have!
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form." Discuss.
A couple of "free speech" issues have arisen in the last week - one a bit ho-hum, the other somewhat more serious.
It's been a bad week for the government and good for the Greens. Is the luck of the parties turning?
But is it enough to change the campaign trajectory? That's the question around what's turned into a dire week for the National Party.
Labour, you've got to say, has had terrible luck this term. Every time there seemed to be some poll movement or National wobbled (BMWs, for example), a natural disaster, mine explosion or own-goal by one of its own MPs came to the government's rescue.
As black waves wash in to the Mount today from Rena, and political gods laugh in the face of adversity, has the tide turned for our PM and risen for the Greens?
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer man at a better time.
Is this, finally, the hairline crack in the impregnable hull? - will the Rena oil spill be the thing that exposes what lies beneath Mr Key, and swamps whatever public appetite there was for his government's offshore oil policy, little enough at the best of times?
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp faces his final torture test this week, when UNAMA releases a critical report on mistreatment of prisoners in Afghan detention centres.
Top of Wayne Mapp’s things-to-do list before he turns in his Ministerial ticket and leaves Parliament should be the release of the findings of inquiries he instigated in August last year into the possibility that prisoners arreste
Hone Harawira hung onto Te Tai Tokerau in the June by-election after he left the Maori Party. But things have changed since then, which means Mana can take nothing for granted
The minor parties are going to provide much of the best action in this election, and none more so than the Mana Party as Hone Harawira fights to hold Te Tai Tokerau. And while he's starting in pole position, I suspect he's got a struggle on his hands.
The Corrections Department wants to build a new 1,000 bed prison at Wiri for $424 million - based on justice sector projections from 2010. The projections for 2011, however, show a new prison is no longer needed
Does New Zealand need to build a new 1,000 bed prison at Wiri?
American reality - where the uber-wealthy operate under socialism, and capitalism is for the rest. It is a game of nationalised losses and privatised profits, and those occupying Wall St are calling it to account.
The “Occupy Wall St” protests are about to enter their third week, and suddenly America is paying attention.
Don't panic, Mr Mannering! The message being delivered by everyone from Europe's finance ministers to the Bank of England seems to be one of wartime stoicism. But is that enough?
Here in Britain, the wartime poster with stark white lettering on a red background which says 'Keep Calm and Carry On' has become ubiquitous. It's found its way onto mugs, t-shirts and screensavers.
The Justice and Electoral Committee has done a good job on the issue of covert video surveillance. Mostly.
So the Justice and Electoral Committee has reported back on the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill.
Three new polls reinforce an unchanging overall political landscape and underscore a recent trend that is bad for Labour, good for the Greens, and bad for the left generally
Three new polls came out over the weekend. Collectively, they show National gaining further ground, increasing its support to level last seen in late 2009. All the smaller parties are slowly losing ground.
The double downgrade is exactly what the government didn't want eight weeks out from an election. But is it really so bad? Or does it speak to a larger narrative?
While today the men of New Zealand have joined the women in their fascination with Daniel Carter's groin, the New Zealand economy is looking like it's pulled a muscle as well, after the double downgrades on Friday. Neither are good news for a government hopeful of an easy run-in to November's election.
But neither are as bad as you may think.
What if Don Brash had an alternative motive for his tactics since his takeover of ACT? Is it all a cunning plan?
I've met Don Brash twice.
The first time was during the 2005 election campaign when I was in a shopping mall in Henderson. I don't think he recognised me because he thrust some sort of electronic device under my nose and invited me to calculate my tax cut.
They're just wee flags squeezed onto car windows. But they symbolise something much more than rugby and something I hope will out live the Rugby World Cup
When Governor William Hobson famously declared "He iwi tahi tatou" (We are all one people) to the rangatira who signed the Treaty of Waitangi, he left an awkward legacy. I imagine he meant well and all, perhaps as he saw it merely offering some noble words of colonial unity.
I realise repeated posts on the issue of hidden video cameras is not a sure-fire way to increase traffic to this blog, but here we go again ...
Please forgive yet another post on the topic of the Government's "fix" for the problem of hidden video camera surveillance, but I have been invited to give evidence t
Why does our political landscape so often resemble open mic night at the local comedy club?
Politicians, regardless of where they come from, are supposed to be professional. We pay them heaps of money to think carefully about the problems facing their country, to propose workable solutions, to debate the merits of various proposals, and to implement their ideas if we let them.
My prospects as a freelance fixer of public policy problems look distinctly unpromising .
I got a letter emailed to me today from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.
With the Rugby World Cup brouhaha you'd be forgiven for forgetting there is an election soon. Mike Williams compares the performance of campaign managers Trevor Mallard and Steven Joyce
With all the attention on this rugby tournament, it's easy to forget that the 2011 general election is just around the corner. The countdown's begun, with the first hoardings going up in Auckland over the weekend.
ACT's John Boscawen reads the writing on the wall as the party tries to win over the lock 'em up crowd and the decriminalise drugs crowd at the same time
Rodney Hide must be laughing in his grave, to use one of the great old gags. ACT's political fortunes have gone from bad to worse with the announcement that No. 2 John Boscawen is stepping down from parliament to spend more time with his family.
Obama's dreaded 3am phone call may soon be to tell him Palestinians protesting for their freedoms, as their Arab neighbours are doing, have been mowed down at Israeli controlled checkpoints. What will he suggest to Netanyahu then?
In American politics the phone call warning of foreign policy disaster is always tipped to come at 3 in the morning. Presidents, as presidential hopefuls are quickly made aware, are
My name is being dropped as the author of a potential way to fix the "problem" of covert video surveillance following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Urewera trials. What are the issues at stake?
Given that there's now real debate about the best way to deal with the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamed v R - the case that calls into question the Police's power to use covert video surveillance to gather evidence - here's some more thoughts on that issue.
The unsurprising surprise of Europe's economic woes and the IMF's latest predictions gets the once-over from new Pundit Fiona McMillan, a London-based New Zealand business journalist.
What's perhaps most amazing about Europe's growth story -- or non-growth story--- is that markets and the folk who watch them continue to react to new data as if it still contains some element of surprise.
Yesterday's IMF growth forecasts are a case in point.
In which our hero riffs about Air New Zealand, Singaporeans, frozen corn, foodieism, and the Burger King barbeque bacon burger, all in one masterful jam session. Inspired by, well, this
A little something
I never go hungry
But I'm not wildly enthusiastic about cooking
I tend to eat very, very simple food
I cook myself steak
Plus either potato
Or frozen peas
Or frozen corn
If I'm in a hurry, it's Burger King
The fight over the different kinds of wealth on the “impoverished” Denniston plateau is about more than just Denniston. Chances are, it could finish in the Supreme Court
Last week the West Coast Environment Network, Forest & Bird, and others filed appeals against the resource consent granted three weeks earlier, to coal miner Bathurst Resources.
In 2008, a depressed man robbed a bank – not for the money but so the judge would send him to prison. He got no help in prison and three years later he did it again. Is it time for an inquiry into our judicial system?
Last week, the Dominion Post reported the sad case of Mr Craig Andrew Blair who robbed a bank in Rotorua – not for financial gain but so that he would be sent back to prison.
We are told the Supreme Court's ruling on the use of covert video surveillance has caused a major headache for the Police. Let me fix that for you.
My last post set out the Supreme Court's decision on the use of secretly filmed evidence against those accused of participating in the Urewera "training camps"/"terror group"/"consciousness raising sessions" (or whatever you wish to term them).
Looking at the meltdown on the Auckland waterfront on RWC opening night, why didn't National MP's push the alarm button? And why did McCully's own committee predict no more than 50,000 people?
I'm one of the council appointed directors of Auckland Transport and so out of solidarity with its beleaguered officials I attended the Auckland Council Committee meeting which reviewed the disorder surrounding the opening Rugby World Cup game the preceding Friday.
Smile! You may be on Police camera ... and may be again.
Back in 2006, some information found its way to the ears of the NZ Police. Apparently a bunch of Maori activists, environmentalists, social justice campaigners and the like were gathering in the Urewera back-blocks and talking revolution. What is more, they were doing so while playing with guns and other nasty stuff.
We may have got rid of Nanny, but someone’s clearly still doing the babysitting
This time three years ago, a two-word phrase seemed to be gaining unprecedented coverage in New Zealand: Nanny State.
MPs who say things in Parliament are absolutely protected from any legal consequences. The officials who tell them what to say aren't. Who'd be a public servant?
Erin Leigh's ongoing journey through the New Zealand legal process has taken another step towards some sort of resolution.
Erin who? Her what? My my, how soon our memories fade!
The Palestinians will seek full statehood at the UN Security Council next week so as to negotiate peace on a state-to-state basis. Why could that possibly send Israel and the US scrambling? Why indeed.
The Palestinians have announced they are going to the United Nations next week to seek full membership.
The government has been as twinkle-toed as a winger five metres from the try-line in its handling of the opening night chaos down on the Auckland waterfront. Here's the government's playbook laid bare...
If only the government's event management was as good as its political management. Its performance in the days following the weekend's crowd chaos on the Auckland waterfront has been deft, comfortably outmanoeuvring the Auckland Council.
Twelve months in prison for clubbing to death 23 seals, injuring others, leaves nobody with anything to celebrate.
Yesterday, a Marlborough teenager was sentenced to two years in prison, for battering 23 seals and pups to death with a steel pole.
Margaret Mutu has stirred the pot with comments about restricting white immigration. But the true bite comes in her claim that she can't be racist, a claim that no longer holds water
Immigration has long been dry tinder throughout the western world, easily ignited by fiery words. We've seen it in New Zealand, from the poll tax and Chinese:cargo ratio imposed by government in 1881, through the dawn raids of the 1970s, to Winston Peter's anti-Asian rhetoric of the 1990s. Enter, Professor Margaret Mutu.
Governments are bad negotiators, because democracy demands they tip their hand before going to the bargaining table. That means governments get the short end of asset sale deals
A common claim in favour of asset sales is that the sale price is usually the “net present value of future profits”, which means that the sale price plus the interest you save on your lower debt is about the same, over the long term, as the dividends you would have made from keeping the asset. Where does this claim come from?
The misuse of Don McKinnon, the road rage of Tau Henare and how the Rugby World Cup train debacle is just a foretaste of things to come for Auckland
The launch of Paul Holmes' book Daughters of Erebus in Parnell last Monday night was, like all of Paul's social events, a great night. I don't know about the wisdom of opening old wounds, but it was a rare opportunity to mix with the maestro's wide and eclectic circle of friends.
Ten years after those terrible attacks, Al-Qaeda has changed the US way of life. At the same time, the US has fragmented the terror group and killed most of its leaders. So who's winning?
As America looks for meaning today, a decade on from the terror attacks of 9/11, one question keeps nagging at me – who exactly is winning the wars that have followed that awful day?
A God-quoting, science-doubting, swaggering Governor from Texas for President...what could possibly go wrong?
Every now and then it must be quite within the bounds of being a grown up to scream from the roof-tops, “OMG”. Wednesday night in North America was one such occasion.
The work of many years looks to have paid off in our largest city. New Zealanders seem to be putting the rugby corporate nonsense behind them. But can we all now start acting like good hosts?
Auckland, you've got to say, is looking fine. The new art gallery, the souped-up zoo, the new shared-space roads with people walking amongst the cars, the busy Britomart precinct, and the North Wharf, with its funky, Amsterdam-style bridge and people-friendly open spaces.
As the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, Americans are learning what Hope and Change really mean... Is Osama bin Laden still winning?
On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist and member of the Black Hand, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The purpose was to throw off the yoke of Austro-Hungarian rule and form an independent Yugoslavia. Within 37 days, all of Europe was engulfed in a tripartite war.
Two years after the idea was born, Confessions of a Coffee Group Dropout is on the shelves
I am not good at self-promotion, but I am going to give it a shot anyway, because if you can't write about your new book with the pretty pink cover on your very own blog, there probably isn't anywhere you can safely do so.
Looking back over New Zealand elections past, 1963 is another with a familiar look about it
Past elections, with their moods, trends, characters and issues can offer a window on what's happening now. A oft-repeated line at the moment is that this election is looking an awful lot like 2002.
But what about further back?
If we want to gain insight into this election by looking at elections past, we have to look way back – to the last time National was as dominant in the polls, to a time with some uncanny similarities
Labour's descent to barely 30 percent in recent polls has prompted repeated comparisons to National's steep slide in 2002, when Bill English led National to its worst ever defeat. In this scenario, Phil Goff is this year's English and Labour is set for further pain as its support evaporates to 21 percent.
It's looking increasingly as if 2014 will be a false deadline in Afghanistan, with more SAS hand-holding needed for years to come. With the government expected to come under renewed pressure to make a greater commitment, what choice is the PM likely to make?
As the war in Afghanistan closes in on its 10th anniversary, the questions it provokes aren't getting any easier, and as we've felt this weekend with the loss of another New Zealand solider, the cost isn't getting any less, either.
The question bubbling to the surface now is that of withdrawal and how much more will be asked of New Zealand troops.
If John Key wants to talk about obligations and responsibilities, he should listen more to Warren Buffett and less to David Cameron. Building community is about everyone sharing those old rights and responsibilities
Sometimes fragments of news from all round the world fit together into a single story.
Simon Power needs Act's support to pass the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill. Will he tell Act to stuff Heather Roy's Voluntary Student Union Bill where the sun doesn't shine, unless they hold their noses, and support grossly illiberal legislation which does away with the right to silence?
When Chris Kahui was acquitted of murdering his twin sons in 2008, law commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer mused that perhaps it was about time we did away with the right to silence for those accused of criminal offences.
He was quoted in the New Zealand Herald: "It is not a change that would happen quickly, but talking about it is not [typo edited] wrong."
Are national parks the things we have when we can’t find anything else to do with them? The Denniston mining proposal is like the Schedule 4 mining proposal, with bonus snails
The Denniston plateau, which is near Mount Augustus, has its own population of threatened giant snails.
Denniston is not a national park. It is not in Schedule 4. It is conservation land, that should have been part of a national park, the Kahurangi National Park. That status was withheld, because of the coal beneath.
Sacrifice isn't a popular word, but the government green paper on vulnerable children poses some tough questions for all of us. For one, if we're to really help the worst off, are we prepared to stop judging them?
What price are we willing to pay to make children safer in this country? For all that the timing of the government's green paper conveniently saves National from having to come up with any hard policy until after the election, it does raise the unpopular question of sacrifice and asks what you - and me - are prepared to give up for the sake of tackling our hideous statistics.