Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Shooting the Messenger

United Future Leader Peter Dunne had a slot on Newstalk ZB Christchurch this morning with its breakfast host John Dunne as a part of the station's regular political leaders interviews. I'll be honest and say it was a rather unusual exchange. Apparently, according its leader, the United Future Party is the victim of a deliberate campaign being orchestrated by the media intelligentsia to ensure it doesn't get back into Parliament. Peter Dunne specifically mentions the Sunday Star Times by name. The audio is archived on Newstalk ZB's website.

For the record Peter I think you'd better stop throwing your toys and settle down cos that is just bizarre.

Oh and by the way, the ACT Party sends out way more press releases than your party does. Ask any newsroom. In fact I hear Jeanette Fitzsimons wants to have a word with Rodney Hide about some sustainability concerns relating to this practice.

It's All the Rage.

I thought I might as well join the rush and do my own version of those National Party billbords that are still doing the rounds. Excuse the cynicism.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

On the Campaign Trail

Last Thursday I happened across Jim Anderton on the campaign trail in Christchurch. They were doing one of those typical electioneering gigs visiting the Hamilton Jet factory in Christchurch. Incidentally it also happened to be in Jim Anderton's electorate of Wigram.

Obviously the joint campaigning is Labour's way of endorsing the Progressives for their support. Anderton gets some much needed exposure and Clark gets to push the party vote message in Wigram. Everyone's a winner. Well maybe not Labour candidate Mike Mora. One can only surmise how he must feel seeing his party leader endorse the very guy he's trying to topple. I guess that's one of the more brutal aspects of MMP politics. A potential coalition deal can outweigh party loyalties. The question was put to Helen Clark about where loyalties lie in such situations and it seemed, from her answer, that a deal with the Progressives was of more value than going into bat for the Labour candidate. Though given the Progressives are only likely to get Anderton in alone at this election I don't fully understand why Labour wouldn't field a strong candidate in Wigram, force Anderton out, and have a more pliable Labour MP in caucus. (admittedly Anderton does seem to be Labour all but in name these days so maybe it's a moot point).

Coalition arrangements seemed to be all the rage for the media and a few questions were asked about who could deal with who, and who might not be acceptable. The crux of it seems to be this; Labour and the Progressives can definitely work with the Greens, are reasonably comfortable with United Future, NZ First at a pinch, but as far as the Maori party are concerned it'll be a cold day in hell. Both Clark and Anderton were very emphatic on that point. The "last cab off the rank" comment came out again and Anderton even referred to a coalition involving the Maori Party as the coalition from hell. Though to be fair I think one of the reporters had put the Maori Party in a coalition combination with NZ First as well when the question was asked).

What was interesting though, was to observe the relationship between Clark and Anderton. It's not going too far to say they acted a bit like a married couple. Towards the end of the tour when Anderton was holding forth (at length) about the Addington railway yards in the 1980's it was quite clear that Clark wanted to move on as time was running short. I swear to God she exhibited exactly the same mannerisms a wife or girlfriend would in a situation where they need to be somewhere else but first, they need to get their man to stop gossiping with his mates. You know what I mean ... the furrowed brow, frustrated expression, the "hurry up will you" tap of the toe. I was fully expecting her to grab him by the ear and haul him the hell out of there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

It's a Tie.

Bloody politicians can't get anything right.

Here I was thinking that at this general election I'd vote out of pure selfishness for the political party that gave me the biggest bribe. A week or so ago I was feeling pretty chuffed as it looked as if, with all the cash Labour and National were handing out in their rabid attempt to buy votes, that I was in a win/win situation. Surely one or t'other would be able to come up with the dosh to buy my vote.

As a single working professional with no dependents and a student loan (size=substantial)I'd get about $1,650 in savings from Labour's student loan policy and sweet FA from their Working for Families tax relief package. So under Labour I'm better off to the tune of $1,650.

With National's tax cuts package I save $905 a year. If you add on the tax deductions from its Student Loans Policy I get another $750. Sum total under National $1,650.

Bastards!! I can't even use self interest as a way of casting my vote.

The only way around this is to get my girlfriend pregnant in order to get the Working For Families tax cuts and there is absolutely no way that's going to happen.

(especially if she reads this)

Friday, August 19, 2005

New Stuff not involving the PM Motorcade Case, Tax Cuts, or David Lange.

OK local news ... The Banks Peninsula District Council looks like it's a gone-burger with the Local Government Commission ruling in favour of the abolition process. that'll see the entire peninsula come under the control of the Christchurch City Council.

This is good news for Peninsula residents as they join a local authority with a broad rating base, healthy assets, and will result in reduced rates for them should they vote in favour of it. For reasons which haven't exactly been made clear Christchurch residents don't get to have a say on the scheme. It's pity really as they will be landed with the cost of maintaining the roads, sewage, and other assorted infrastructure that had bled the BPDC white in recent years.

Industrial News ... RNZ staff have been involved in industrial action in recent weeks. As public broadcasters they have strong union affiliations and I don't have a problem with that. Well not until their union delegate, Brenden Sheehan, came up with this line in the NZ Herald.

"RNZ salaries lag behind other public and commercial broadcasters. Good staff will leave the network if they are not paid fair wages."

With all due respect Brenden that's a load of bollocks. At least I can categorically say it is as far as RNZ journalists are concerned. RNZ journo's with intermediate level experience get paid approximately $5,000 p/a more than their counterparts at TRN and are on a par with those employed at Radioworks. Furthermore RNZ staff have the advantage of having a payscale system as well as a number of additional allowances. Commercial radio journalists are on individual contracts, have no payscales, get no overtime, and things like meal allowances are only dreamed of.

Take it from someone who's worked in commercial radio. I know of what I speak. TRN's starting pay is shit but at least they will give you a rise if you're good enough and show some loyalty. Radioworks pays a lot better but tends to get you to a certain level (circa $45k) very quickly from which you can never rise above ... also their resourcing is crap and their staff are overworked. Less than 30 radio journalists to cover the entire country at last count. That compares to 45+ for TRN and 55+ for RNZ.

Finally I've been meaning to put a link into this blog for quite a while. It's a very powerful piece of writing and serves to yank what's happening into Iraq back into focus. It's very easy to sit back and listen to the news about suicide bombings, insurgent groups, and interrogations yet have no real appreciation of what it must be like for those that live there.