Sunday, December 24, 2006

Whatever Happened to ...

Remember Tom Wilson?

Actually I'd be surprised if you did. He was the guy who played Biff in the Back to the Future Movies. You know the bully that got his jollies out of beating up on the McFly family. Well those were pretty much the only films he ever did and he disappeared amidst the detritus of Hollywood history.

But then the other day I found this on Youtube:



Not that much of a chip on his shoulder is there?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Absolute Genius.

This is one for all my fellow grinches. Seasons Greetings to you all!



This is part one of three. Please make sure you see the rest.

I shall now disappear and continue my annual practice of evading family Christmnas gatherings and eluding workmates and friends who try to co-opt me into their events on the argument of: "it's not right to be alone at Christmas".

I've got news for you. It's bliss.

Actually I'm sure Mary wasn't to chuffed about having Joseph, three strange bearded astrologers, and a menagerie in attendance when she was giving birth to the Messiah. I bet she woud have preferred a few qualified medical professionals and an epidural as opposed to gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Secret Life of Kermit the Frog

I knew his goody good image was too good to be true.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still Harping On About Christmas.

I was going to write a piece about what might happen if Jesus had been born in our times. However someone much more talented than I beat me to it.

One thing I do know is that Jesus would never make it into a decent nightclub.
"Oi hippy! No sandals, piss off!"

Dear God!

Message boards dedicated to ER specialists are simply the best invention in the world. Seriously.

Yes, you can have sex with your wife in between her contractions. However, the obstetrician is really not going to appreciate it.

If you're bored over the holidays go here. Trust me you will not regret it.

Unless you're the squeamish sort that is.

Merry F**King Xmas

Here's my contribution to the Yuletide spirit.

Dead Santa.


Granddad obviously died playing Santa last year but the family just left him propped up in the corner. Hence the pale, waxy, corpselike appearance. Is it any wonder the child is terrified.



Criminal Santa.




Is it just me or did we see this Santa on Crimewatch the other night? Knocking off a bank? Mugging a granny? Sexually assaulting a small child?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Catch That!

By the time the second cricket test between NZ and Sri Lanka is over the Kiwi Captain, Stephen Fleming, should hold the new record for number of test catches taken by a non-wicket keeper.

Currently he's on 156 catches from 103 tests. Aussie Mark Taylor took 157 in 105 tests

And this would have to have been the best.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Newsflash

I've just learnt something very interesting about the quality control in the national newsroom of one of NZ's largest commercial radio stations.

Apparently it's ok to change quotes from interview subjects to make them that little bit more punchy. As long as the meaning is the same it doesn't matter if the words are changed.

I suspect the people being quoted (or should that be misquoted?) might have a different opinion.

Commercial radio news - the medium where we'll make you say what we thought you should have said.

Money vs Morality

The coup in Fiji has been a farce of epic proportions. Sadly so too has been our Government's handling of the crisis from beginning to end.

Firstly, in an attempt to steal a diplomatic march on Australia, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Prime Minister Helen Clark involved themselves in clandestine talks with the two main protagonists Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and head of the Fijian Military Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Bainimarama was in NZ at the time visiting family and the media knew he had to be meeting Winston Peters. The two are old friends and have been known to spend a convivial night in each others' company (ask the barstaff at the Green Parrot). Yet the Minister's office was a cone of silence when asked what was going on between the two men.

Unfortunately in a fit of Trans-Tasman comradely behaviour our Government was keping Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in the loop. Mr Downer then gleefully leaked the goings on to the Australian press with the end result of NZ's foreign policy being announced across the ditch. Reportedly Clark was spitting tacks at this.

Clark and Peters then announced they'd managed to set up a meeting between Qarase and Bainimarama. Face to face talks, they trumpeted, could be a way of averting a crisis. Yet behind the scenes the story was very different. They knew Bainimarama was mad as a march hare and any statements he made had about as much value as a bucket of warm spit (this was reinforced by an interview the Commodore gave the day before the meeting in which he said Qarase would have to meet his demands, no ifs, no buts, no maybes). However they had to be placatory in their approach as it was felt being publicly critical of Bainimarama would result in a coup happening sooner rather then later.

Well in that they were borne out to a certain degree. The coup did come later rather than sooner. But it's been remarkably apparent the meeting between Qarase and Bainimarama had little, if any, value. All the NZ Government achieved by its actions was a temporary appeasement.

It's the actions of the Government subsequent to Bainimarama's coup that deserve scrutiny. Helen Clark's decried the Commodore as being deluded and announced a series of sanctions. These include freezing aid, suspending military conections, banning coup instigators from NZ, and a sports ban. However the ban doesn't stop NZ teams from going to Fiji and it doesn't stop the Fijian Rugby sevens side from playing in Wellington in February next year. The reason being given is that the sevens tournament is an international event organised by the IRB and while we could stop the Fijians from entering NZ it would likely result in the event being moved to Australia. That, says Minister of Sports Trevor Mallard, would punish NZ more than it would Fiji.

So on the one hand we have our Government expressing moral outrage at the damage being done to democracy in Fiji, yet on the other hand they're not prepared to back up their stance because it would cost us a rugby tournament.

It would appear the value of democracy in Fiji (such as it was) isn't more precious than a game of rugby. I find that kind of sad.

Why Don't We Get This Here?

TVNZ and TV3 take note and kindly get some of this onto our screens

Sunday, November 26, 2006

John and Bill

Well it looks like the National Party's Caucus meeting tomorrow will be a bit of a non-event. The deal's been done and it'll be a John Key/Bill English ticket following Gerry Brownlee pulling out of the Deputy Leadership race earlier today. I look forward to seeing how this partnership works out.

I say this because I know (courtesy of my Molesworth mole) that English had been merrily destabilising both Brash and Key in recent months. His tactic was fairly simple, keep putting out rumours about Key doing the numbers for a coup even when none was being planned. Not only did this undermine Brash it also made Key look indecisive when a leadership challenge failed to eventuate. The most recent example of this was a little over two weeks ago when Brsh was in Europe. On the Friday the Otago Daily Times ran a story about Key doing the numbers over the weekend with the intention of rolling Brash. It turned out to be baseless. An example of the Dipton Drawler pulling the strings of the Political Editor at the ODT.

Now if you were John Key ask yourself this; is this the guy you'd want as your number two?

The strategising that's being going on in the National Party ranks since Brash announced his resignation last Thursday has been fascinating to behold. On Friday, soon to be former Deputy Leader, Gerry Brownlee tipped his intention to retain his position. A move which, on the face of it, seemed surprising to many. In fact it was a deliberate ploy to draw English out and potentially forestall him going for the top job and further widening divisions within the Caucus. It gave him a bargaining chip, or leverage, that could later be used to divert English from making a tilt for the leader's job.

Also amusing has been the way Labour has been treating the whole affair. Some times their Machiavellian approach is beyond belief. When a senior staffer says confidentially the party is more worried about English as National leader than Key you know the opposite is the case. They stuffed English so comprehensively in the 2002 election that to say they fear him is barely credible. John Key, on the other hand, is a reasonably good public speaker (better than either Brash or English), presents far better in the media, and is one of the few National MPs that can hold his own in a general debate with Deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen (aka Savage Mickey). I look forward to see how he gets on against Helen Clark when Parliament resumes next month.

Finally a few words about the departed Don. Sorry pal I don't buy the whole "I'd been planning to go for several months" schtick. Brownlee can deny it until he's blue in the face but I'm dead sure the story about him giving Brash the hard word last Wednesday is spot on. Brash's injunction on the emails was a bolt from the blue to senior MPs. My Molesworth mole says when he raised the topic in a call with a frontbencher immediately after the announcement, the MP in question was completely taken by surprise. In effect it was simply a case of one gaffe too many for Dr Brash - it proved, or at least seriously indicated, he had something to hide. And that for a Party Leader is a death knell.

Oh, and further to Brash's line on his resignation. His explanation for it being at odds with his previously stated position, that he intended to lead the party to the next election, was that to be open about it would have been destabilising for the party.

So Dr Brash, if you were prepared to deceive on that matter, what else have you not been entirely honest about?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mystery Solved

I have an answer to my question of yesterday. It seems Mr Iosefa has got a new job.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wazzup?

Ok what's going on here? I checked the search stat's for the blog today and noticed there's been a heap of people checking my blog who want to know about the past of Christchurch lawyer Leuatea Peseta Iosefa. Particularly this post which I blogged back in April of last year.

40 hits in just a few days .... what are you people up to?

For the record he's a competent and efficient lawyer who just happened to make a mistake. Not an incident to be proud of, but hey the guy's human like the rest of us.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Shortest Story.

The crew at Wired Magazine have come up with a wonderful competition which, fortunately, a number of fairly well known authors have taken to heart.

The concept, which I believe was inspired by Ernest Hemingway, is to write a complete story in just six words.

Here's what they came up with.

My personal favourites are as follows:

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
- Margaret Atwood

Husband, transgenic mistress; wife: “You cow!”
- Paul Di Filippo

Don’t marry her. Buy a house.
- Stephen R. Donaldson

Heaven falls. Details at eleven.
- Robert Jordan

Dorothy: "Fuck it, I'll stay here."
- Steven Meretzky

However it'd be wrong of me to post all their genius with out having a crack myself. So for what it's worth here's my effort.

Time stood still, nothing much happened.
- Randominanity
What can you come up with?

Friday, October 27, 2006

I knew I was Special.


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
0
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?


However there are 60 Wayne Kerrs. Which is a bit of a surprise as I was expecting more.

There are no Hugh Jarse's either. Again a surprise given the obesity epidemic in the USA. However I am reliably informed that there is at least one Hugh Janus.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why Ian Wishart is a Hypocritical Twat.

Now I'm not normally one to lay criticism at another journalist's door, but just this once I'm going to make an exception.



Recently Mr Wishart gained a lot of attention in his Smoking Gun issue of his Investigate Magazine. It titillated and promised undisclosed juicy details about Peter Davis, the husband of Prime Minister Helen Clark.


In the magazine was a picture of Peter Davis being embraced by an unidentified man. Who was this man Mr Wishart demanded, and what did it all mean. Needless to say the connotations centred very much on whether or not Mr Davis was gay and it sparked a media frenzy.

Dramatic eh!

It would be a fair enough evaluation to say Ian Wishart, by his approach was probing into the personal life of a public figure. Unequivocal in fact.

So why am I maintaining Mr Wishart is a hypocrite?

Well the other day I came across a very old copy of Investigate Magazine, one of the very early ones in fact. For those who are curious I refer you to the issue released in July of 2000 and recommend you look at an op-ed piece written by Mr Wishart on page 79. Actually as it's probably reasonably hard to find I'll transcribe the full article here for your edification.

Sex, drugs, a horse, and a teenager. IAN WISHART wants to know whether the media realise they're in a glass house.

Sex sells. And nowhere more so than on the desk of some bored news editor whose own life is so tedious they have to get their titillation from writing about other people's pecadilloes.

So what if Mark Todd uses cocaine? If the Sunday Mirror had revealed that his horse had snorted the Colombian marching dust I'd probably be more concerned, but I can't just get excited about Todd's personal habits, if any.

In my career as a radio/TV/print journalistI have seen so many of my colleagues stoned, drunk or both in varying stages of moral decay. I don't need to name names. They know who they are.

Narcotics are not something I've ever wanted to indulge in - apart from a brief fling with marijuana as a 20 year old radio reporter, which I quit because I felt it was fuzzing my short term memory.

But my fellow journalists not only went with dope, they progressively got stuck into harder narcotics like speed, ecstasy, cocaine, and even heroin.

In some places I worked, the sight of manic reporters with horribly glazed eyes and sinus problems was one of the amusing highlights of my day.

Hell, at Radio Hauraki in 1984 I came to work one day only to find that half of my fellow employees had been picked up in a dawn raid by police investigating a cocaine ring - the same investigation that saw a National MP left untouched by police because arresting the MP would have upset the Muldoon Government's one seat majority and caused a snap election.

Now in the latter case had Iknown of the the MP's involvement at the time I would have run it as a news story for obvious reasons - but not simply because the MP was using cocaine. The only news value in the story for me was that police allowed political pressure to influence their judgement.

And so back to Mark Todd. I, and I'm sure most New Zealanders, don't want to know what he does in his spare time or who he does it with. The only legitimate news value in the Mirror story was whether or not any alleged drug taking would affect Todd's equestrian performance.

As for the Dover Samuels affair, spare me! Regardless of wheter he showed stupidity in getting involved with a teenage girl, unless it is shown that she was underage then he has done nothing illegal, no matter how much any of us may find it repugnant.

For the Prime Minister to sack him, before all the evidence is in and without allowing due process to be followed, shows how hollow the Government's words are on our employment law - any employment lawyer worth his salt would have a field day with this on a personal grievance/unjustified dismissal basis.

Given that some MPs have paid out sums of $90,000 or more to extortionists to cover up sexual misdeeds, one wonders how long before the lid blows on that one.

Again the news value is not the sex, it is the fact that some of our MPs have been compromised and could be blackmailed into committing treason or corruption.

It is time for the media to watch the ball, not the balls.

Investigate Magazine,
July 2000.

Pot, kettle, black. Utter hypocrisy wouldn't you agree?

Actually what is more disturbing is what is written in paragraph 12. The allegation that some MP's have paid hush money to cover up their sexual misdeeds. Does this ring any bells for anyone? Have you heard something very similar recently? For example, private investigators hired by the Exclusive Brethren.

Now Mr Wishart has categorically denied having anything to do with the Brethren or the private investigators and maintains they've had no role in stories (you'll have to search his blog for specifics) he's run about Dunedin based Labour Cabinet Ministers David Benson-Pope and David Parker. But coincidentally one of the private investigators contracted by the Exclusive Brethren, Mr Wayne Idour, also lives in Dunedin.

Maybe it's just happenstance, maybe the PI's have based their stories on old Investigate stories, maybe they and Mr Wishart have been digging in the same areas ... I don't know for sure. But something certainly smells here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Seafest


This is an annual food festival held at the, now trendy, town of Kaikoura on the South Island's east coast. From small beginnings it's turned into a major event. When I first went (more years ago than I care to remember) there were only about 1200 people there and only a bare handful of stalls. Now they have to restrict tickets to 6000 and there's around 50 different outlets selling a wide variety of food an alcohol.

All in all it's a good day out. Though you have to choose the year you go pretty carefully. For a while every second Seafest was a wet one, creating the tag mudfest for the exceptionally slushy years. Fortunately this year was in the dry cycle.

Word of advice to those who intend to go next year. Any beverage called Liquid Fire, which involves vodka and tequila laced with chilli, will be like drinking a bonfire. The problem is it's just as hot (if not hotter) on the way out as many blokes at the urinal's discovered. To see a bloke going crosseyed, wincing in pain, muttering "cor, bloody hell" while having a pee is a sight to behold.



Oh and a word of advice for the organisers .... more toilets next year please! Somewhere up in the distance in the photo above you will see a glimpse of an orange portaloo. Suffice it to say many of the female patrons were not best impressed at the wait. (Lots of crossed legs and expressions of extreme concentration)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Things Not To Do on Your OE - Part 1

Something I've learnt from my time tripping around the world is that travelling with the Irish is both fun and nerve-wracking. Somehow I don't think "consequences" is a word many of them understand. However if you put this minor shortcoming aside travelling with an Irishman is guaranteed to take you places you'd never expect. The following tale is a case in point.

In late 1996 I was meandering my way through Turkey as part of my sojourn in the Middle East. I'd done all the really touristy places (Istanbul, Fethiye, Gallipoli, Cappadocia etc) and was making my way along the Black Sea coast when I ran into Kevin, formerly of Belfast. He was a gregarious bloke (the Irish generally are) and we got on pretty well. Anyway we got to talking about travel plans, where each other was headed, and how we intended to get there - that sort of thing. I was heading south towards Syria and so too, it turned out was Kevin. Figuring there's always safety in numbers we decided to travel together for a while.

It was a day or two into the journey when we got to Trabzon and were mellowing at a bar with an Aussie (whose name now escapes me) that Kevin came up with the bright idea that we should climb Mount Ararat. It was a bit out of the way he argued, but since we were in the neighbourhood we'd be fools not to give it a crack. Hang on, says yours truly, it's late autumn and you're suggesting we climb a sodding mountain and get caught in a blizzard. Doesn't sound a particularly good plan to me.

Many beers and persuasive Irish dialogue ensued.
"Whaddaya, a nonce?"
"No, I'm just not a fan of frostbite"
"Bigod have another beer will yez ... look it'll be fine. A quick climb up and down and a story to tell your kids"
"If I climb Mt Ararat and get caught in a blizzard I might not have any kids! Anyway don't you need a permit to go up there?"
"Permits are for poofs ... have another beer ya Keewee idjit"

So many, many, beers later I was persuaded and, once the hangover was over, off to the village of Dogbayit trundled the intrepid trio (The Australian having decide to join us)

In hindsight I should have realised the plan had risks. Any sentence that starts "An Irishman, a Kiwi, and an Australian were on Mount Ararat ..." should ring all sorts of warning bells. However I was young, and fairly foolish, so I blithely proceeded with no regard for the consequences.



As I suspected permits were needed to climb the mountain. Permits we didn't have and couldn't get, unless we were prepared to back-track to Ankara to get them. Even then, the locals said, they were unlikely to be issued. Like the twits we were we didn't think to ask why that might be.

Needless to say Kevin wasn't going to let a small issue like a permit get in the way of a chance of a lifetime. We had a tent, warm gear, plenty of food, and with judicious cash donations to the right people we were going up this mountain. And that's what we did.

If the truth be told it wasn't that difficult. The climb wasn't hard at all. The view was spectacular, but despite our best efforts we didn't find Noah's Ark. However clambering up and down mopuntain did take a while, which necessitated an overnight bivvy in an almost cave on Ararat's lower slopes. It was chilly, but we had hot food and plenty of alcohol to keep us cosy and drifted off to a well satisfied sleep.

It was at around five AM the next morning that the shit hit the fan. There was an almighty bang as something exploded outside our shelter. Ears ringing I half sat up in my sleeping bag only for another stupendous flash of light and colossal crash to send me into a small huddled ball of quivering fear. The next thing I know is half a dozen guys in camouflage and armed to the teeth come storming into our shelter yell and screaming at us in Turkish. Then they got a look at us and stopped dead in their tracks. They were definitely surprised (though nowhere as surprised as us) to find three white boys in a cave on Ararat.

Anyway once the initial tensions eased, machine guns were lowered, and explanations were forthcoming. Firstly from us explaining what we were doing there, and then from them as to why they were throwing stun grenades at us and poking rather large guns at our heads. It turns out the part of the country we were in was where the Kurdish separatists (or terrorists depending on your point of view) the PKK were operating. The Turkish Army had put some specialist groups into the field on some sort of search and destroy mission. They'd seen a light in our cave, and because no permits had been issued for tourists to climb Ararat, assumed we were Kurds and had been about to deal to us in a fairly permanent way.

Anyway once the misunderstanding was cleared up, (the soldiers thought the whole situation was hilarious) they offered us us breakfast and in exchange for some cigarettes and booze gave us a ride back into the nearest town. Very generously they didn't dob us in for being where we weren't supposed to be.

Once the dust had settled somewhat the three of us were sitting at a local cafe, basically really enjoying life and the fact we were still alive. Irish Kevin takes a long swig of his beer, looks at me and said
"Ya see Keewee, I told youse have a good story to to tell from this trip"
"U huh"
"Now how's you fancy going to Iraq?"
..........

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Paranoia Balance.

The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.





The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.





Inspired by Rob.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thinking Chickens.


I think I cluck, therefore I am a chook.

More philosophical musings from Green MP Sue Kedgley.


Chicken carnage revealed in MAF report


A report prepared for MAF that purports to show chickens are relatively well treated in New Zealand broiler farms actually indicates some 3 million chickens die per year as a result of the appalling conditions in which they are forced to spend their brief lives, Green Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.


”This report was dressed up with classic PR spin, claiming that conditions were better for broiler chickens in New Zealand than elsewhere. What it has done is lift the lid on a quite appalling reality.

“By the report’s own figures, some 3.8 percent of the chickens surveyed died prematurely, from such things as heart failure caused by forced growth, and from culling because of the leg deformities fostered by the crowded conditions..Given that some 80 million broiler chickens are raised annually in New Zealand, that means over 3 million chickens die prematurely, due to the cruel and abnormal environment in which they are raised.

Chickens are living, sentient creatures. Yet they have been packed 20-30 to the square metre. All birds in the survey suffered in varying degrees from leg weakness, and therefore many of them spend a lot of time lying down rather than standing up..This results in skin abrasion and dermatitis, from being in contact with faeces in the soiled wood shavings strewn beneath them, which – the report reveals – are usually not changed over the term of their lives. etc etc etc



Plugging The Leaks.




Literally the only Parliamentary leaks ever to receive remedial action

Sunday, September 17, 2006

FYI

Something I forgot to add.

There's been a bit of gossip around the blogs about why the media chose to run the Brash story. Some are arguing that Labour MPs were hounding the Gallery to encourage them to run with it. Well my Molesworth mole tells me the only senior Labour MP to do the rounds on the Gallery corridor of late was Steve Maharey, and that was on the day Trevor Mallard made the "affair" comment during question time. He was sent down by the 9th floor to see how it gone down with the Gallery .... the response (so I understand) from at least one newsroom, was to tell them to pull their bloody heads in.

Now back to why the Brash story was run. The week before last TVNZ put Helen Clark on the spot on the pre-question time bridge run about the rumours currently doing the rounds about her husband, Peter Davis. As you can imagine it got a very frosty denial.

But what it did result in was an editor of one of the daily papers deciding, that if that question was going to be asked of Clark, then Brash had to be quizzed on the affair allegation. One of his reporters duly did so on the day National was holding its caucus meeting. That saw Dr Brash go back into Caucus and raise the matter as he feared (justifiably) that a story was going to be run, and that he should warn his Party colleagues about it. Rakaia MP Brian Connell then asked if him if the allegation was true ..... and the rest we all know.

Likely Candidates.

The best way to get hits on NZ blog these days is to post just three words.

"Don, Brash, affair"
After months of no bugger reading this blog last week I had a sudden surge and those were the words responsible. What an irresponsible bunch of gossips you are! Anyway the beast must be sated so here's some more for you to digest.

The question everyone has been asking in Parliament since Wednesday is who was the person that leaked the caucus tiff over Don Brash's alleged affair to the media? My initial suspect was Rakaia MP Brian Connell as he's a loose cannon, no friend of Dr Brash, and the type of person who would do him a bad turn if the opportunity presented itself. But it seems I owe Brian an apology as it seems while he did have the argument he wasn't the one that leaked it. Caucus rumour is that it was someone with a much longer political history.

So here are our suspects:


John Key.

John Key is the man everybody is picking to be the next leader of the National Party. He's a good debater, more than holds his own against the Minister of Finance Dr Michael Cullen, and is popular with the public. A self made millionaire he's the perfect man to connect with the ordinary bloke and big business. He's been playing down his leadership aspirations but it's an open secret he wants the job one day. However it's unlikely he's the leak. Caucus rumour says it's someone with extensive political experience and Key is only in his second term as an MP. For the time being we can rule him out.



Gerry Brownlee.

Suspect number two is the Party's current Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee. He fits the bill for the political experience rumour as he's been around for quite a while now. Also he's another that's been known to hold strong aspirations for the leader's job. Hopwever the subtle machination of the leak, setting up Brian Connell as the fall-guy suggests Gerry Brownlee is not the culprit. This is not a reflection on the man's intelligence but it's not his style. Brownlee is a debater and a brawler and takes the shortest route to his goals. Convoluted plotting is not something he's known for.



Bill English.

Now this is the guy who I think has to be the prime suspect. My reason are as follows; He was formerly the Leader of the National Party until he was rolled by Dr Brash after losing the 2002 election. National's support from the business community evaporated largely because of the campaign being run by the Business Roundtable for installing Dr Brash as leader - no Brash = no money. The coup that rolled Bill English cut deep and it showed as it was some time before he was back to his effective best on the opposition benches. He's never said it publicly but it's well known if he could get his own job back he'd grab it in a flash. Bill English has the best motive of the lot, revenge. He also has political experience when it comes to rolling party leaders .... remember Jenny Shipley?

The problem our leadership hopeful has (whoever he may be) is there's been a lot of public sympathy for Dr Brash following the affair accusations. To make a move for the leadership will be seen by many as cynical and underhanded, not a good move if you want public support to win the next election. This leaves two options; One, persuade Dr Brash to leave now on the basis his credibility is gone. Or two, run a long term low level destabilisation campaign until it's simply untenable for Dr Brash to remain. By then sufficient time will have passed to be distanced from the Caucus leak.

Given Dr Brash's intention to stay and fight it looks like option two is the one that will be played out. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Muck Raking.

As I suspected last week, NZ politics has just got a lot murkier. National Party Leader Dr Don Brash is now away from Parliament to deal with marital difficulties. In essence a rumour that’s been circling for some time that he was having an extra-marital affair has become public knowledge. Not since Labour Prime Minister David Lange left his wife for his then speech-writer Margaret Pope has a political party leader had to deal with such a personal issue under the glare of public scrutiny.

It’s a line that the NZ media rarely cross and it’s worthy of analysis to try and understand how this state of affairs has arisen. The catalyst was probably comments made in Parliament during Question Time last week when Dr Brash was quizzing Prime Minister Helen Clark over the Taito Phillip Field affair. Labour Cabinet Minister Trevor Mallard interjected challenging Dr Brash to elaborate on his own affairs. It was a very unsubtle dig at the National Party Leader’s personal life and patently obvious to those who witnessed it.

Now it’s not uncommon for snide suggestions to be made in Parliament about political opponents. But when another Cabinet Minister joined the barracking, David Benson-Pope, the suggestions went well beyond a veiled hint or a sly dig. In effect it was gutter politics.

However Labour can’t be solely blamed for the affair hitting the headlines. Some of the responsibility lies within National’s Caucus. At National’s Caucus meeting on Tuesday one of its MP’s asked Dr Brash whether there was any truth to the rumours. Dr Brash said he wasn’t going to be talking about his personal life. Things then degenerated as the MP kept pressing the matter in face of some strong opposition from his colleagues. It’s my understanding this MP was the one that leaked details of the Caucus meeting to Independent Financial Review reporter Tim Donoghue. The result was a front-page splash this morning. The National MP broke established rules, shattered Caucus confidentiality, and basically cut the legs out from his leader. He has to bear some responsibility for what has happened.

Questions also have to be asked of the MP’s motivations. Some time ago he was slapped down by Dr Brash and demoted after breaking the ranks on a party policy. Is it too far fetched to assume he may have been holding a grudge?

Whatever his reasons Dr Brash’s leadership of the National Party is under pressure again. The ever-present leadership vultures are already circling. The Party may circle wagons around Dr Brash for the next few days, but depending on how he handles the situation, those with aspirations for the top job will roll him if they can.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Splat!!

The problem with mountain biking is that occasionally shit happens. This I discovered this afternoon while having a blat around Makara. Fortunately this time I was only peripherally involved. This is what happens when a jump goes wrong.



Th young fellow involved took a nasty knock to the head, a definite concussion and a possible broken nose. Definitely not compos mentis and necessitated a medevac courtesy of the good people at the Westpac Trust Rescue Helicopter.



A big up to the crew as well. The area where the accident happened is right where high tension power lines run through, so it required some pretty good skills from the pilot to get in to us.



And with a cloud of dust (and all our bike gear scattered to the four winds) off they flew.



In the midst of keeping him warm and awake yours truly had to make a call to his parents to give them the bad news. Not the sort of situation you ever want to be in.

Fortunately the young lad was wearing a helmet so hopefully all he'll have from the whole affair is a headache and a few days of school. I doubt he'll remember any of it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Playing Dirty.

There’s a box in politics that’s never really been opened in New Zealand. That is the personal peccadilloes of our MP’s. Politicians, though it may sometimes seem otherwise, are really no different to the rest of us. Like all human beings they’ve made their share of mistakes, done things they might not be proud of, and have skeletons in their closets they’d much rather prefer never saw the light of day. Unlike the USA and the UK this territory has been regarded as out of bounds for both the media and political opponents. The reasoning being if what they do in their personal life doesn’t compromise their professional performance there’s little to be gained for it to be splashed across the public domain. The closest we’ve come to is to have gossip columnists, such as Bridget Saunders, print vague innuendoes that only those in the know can readily identify.

But now it seems that could change.

All of a sudden National has gained some major traction in its attack on Labour’s use of the pledge card at the 2005 election. Public opinion has been swayed against the Government and its 446 thousand dollar pledge card costs. Costs which were funded out of the taxpayer’s pocket. A move, which according to the Chief Electoral Officer, the Solicitor General, the Auditor General, and the Police, the Labour Party shouldn’t have taken. This, coupled with the furore surrounding Labour MP Taito Phillip Field, has significantly raised the stakes for the Government. Previously it’d been able to tough out the scandals (e.g. Paintergate, Peter Doone, the motorcade etc) and eventually they’d fade from public view. But not this time. Opinion polls reveal the voters are sitting up, taking notice, and aren’t impressed with what they see.

The result’s seen a torrid few days in Parliament. After taking accusations of corruption on the chin for several weeks or more Labour decided enough was enough and that the best defence was a strong offence. It was time, they decided, to highlight National’s corporate funding, and what relationship, if any, National had with the religious sect the Exclusive Brethren at the last election. However the strategists went one step further and that saw Labour bovver boy Trevor Mallard threaten to dish the dirt on certain National MP’s. He even went so far as to give some very strong hints about some specific people and some specific activities.

The line from Labour on this has been that Mallard was acting on his own initiative but that’s clearly a steaming pile of the proverbial. Mallard is Labour’s attack dog. He doesn’t take these kinds of steps without direction. This strategy has come direct from the ninth floor of the Beehive. Evidence to back it up are the calls the PM’s made to senior press gallery reporter and the tour that Cabinet Minister Steve Maharey made of the Gallery corridors mid-week to test the mood. It’s only when the Government is seriously spinning that he appears in those doorways as normally it’s a task carried out buy the PM’s press secretaries David Lewis and Kathryn Street.

The mistake the Government’s made is to play the man and not the ball. Its arguments over the connections between National and the Exclusive Brethren have some merit. One point two million dollars is lot for a Church to spend in an attempt to sway voters against the Government and it’s na├»ve to accept that there wasn’t at least some strategising going on with National. Its polish suggests the hands of someone with political nous was involved somewhere along the line. This is what Labour should be focussing on, not revealing personal details about its opponents. That smacks of venal opportunism of the worst kind.

Once one side launches an attack of this kind it sets the precedent for the others to do the same. Like it or not Parliament is a den of rumour and scandal. Stories abound about the behaviour of certain MPs, stories which until now have been confined to the beltway (if I may use a term of Helen Clark’s). I’m not giving details here but off the top off my head I can think of at least a half dozen tales involving varying politicians that I’m sure they’d prefer never ended up in print.

The key is in Pandora’s Box and it’s been twisted. This week will see whether cooler heads will prevail and MP’s step back from the brink. Or it could see a big box of trouble opened for all to see and the face of New Zealand politics changed forever.

I, for one, have my fingers crossed and hope it’s the former.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ask Taito.

Lifted from the Parliamentary PEN earlier in the week (it's a email notceboard type thingy)


9. Wanted: Tiler
Can anyone recommend a good tiler in the Titahi Bay/Porirua area for bathroom work? XXX ext. ????


(Numbers and name removed for privacy reasons)

Surely someone was taking the piss??

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Future for Taito Phillip Field

Things aren't looking good for the Labour MP for Mangere, Taito Phillip Field. Prime Minister Helen Clark's gone from describing his behaviour as an error of judgement a month ago, to unacceptable now. It's a pretty marked shift in attitude all things considered. When your boss says you should carefully consider your career it's a sure sign your number's up.

Resignation is the only way he can go in the short term. The PM only has the power to dismiss ministers. It's up to the party to get rid of MP's.

However you can't simply boot out an electorate MP because you don't like him as he's been voted in by the electorate. If he's convicted of a criminal offence carrying a jail term of two years or more then there is the means to give him the boot. However no-one, as yet, has laid a criminal complaint.

What is likely to happen is that his nomination for the seat won't be renewed when the candidate selection process is worked through ahead of the next election. It'll be interesting to see if Labour brings that process forward.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Ya Face.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Helen Clark made a view comments about the public attitude to the Taito Phillip Field affair. The ongoing allegations of misdemeanour and corruption against the MP for Mangere weren't resonating outside of the beltway.

Well it seems, according to my Molesworth Mole, the good people at the Dominion Post are treating the PM's commments with the respect they deserve. I give you the door to the Dom's offices in the Press Gallery.



Finally for those who want to learn a little more about the UK judicial system I suggest you go here and, for balance, here as well. They're well woth the visit.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In Breaking News .....

Day 5.

The Maori Queen is still dead.

'nuff said.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Makara

Well I think I am in love! Not with a woman, but with a mountain biking park I've just discovered in Wellington.

Mkara absolutely rocks and has renewed my passion for mountain biking. A passion which had faded somewhat after a steady diet of the Port Hills, Bottle Lake, and varying trails near Oxford, over my long sojourn in Canterbury.



This is a section of the Koru trail. It's classed as easy and is a great way to get to the top of the Makara Hill. A nice steady climb and the trail is well maintained.












What I really like is the variation they have. For example this is a view from the Sally Alley. It's classed as average (a bit muddy today and slippery on the descent), but still is very manageable. It's hard to pick up in this phot but across the valley you can make out even more single trails. The tracks go for miles, and if you time it right you can manage to make your way without meeting a single soul.


















The best thing about getting to the top ... the downhill. Gnarly stuff.



I think I'm starting to change my opinions about Wellington. Maybe it isn't such a bad place after all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Slip Sliding Away

Never mind the Kelson landslide as it looks as Thorndon has one of it's own in the making.

For reasons best known to themselves the Wellington City Council undertook a mass trefelling exercise on Tinakori Hill in March 2005. The reason given was that the trees were hazardous.

Now Tinakori Hill is very steep and also over a major earthquake fault zone. So it's safe to say it's not the most stable piece of geography in the country. When you take away the trees it becomes even less so.

Anyway I was wandering around one of the walking trails up there about four weeks ago and noticed this.




Today I went back along the same track and this is what has happened.




Now there's a fair bit of housing (most of it pretty pricey) below this slope. Among the dwellings is Premier House, the official residence of the Prime Minister. (it's the green building about half way down on the left hand side of the picture below). I wonder if the PM knows what's hanging over her head.



Now my knowledge of geography is limited to what I learnt at University more years ago than I care to remember. However am I alone in finding this slightly un-nerving?

Asking For Trouble.

She’s going to kill me for this but I’m going to post it anyway.

My partner of three years has left NZ (and me) to do a long term OE in the Northern Hemisphere. She’s been gone a week now and I’ve been mulling over her absence and trying to come up with an analogy to describe it.

It’s not like losing a leg. When your leg goes your aware of it all the time, and being on a lean is a constant reminder that something’s missing. I think it’s more like losing an index finger. It’s a bloody important part of you, however you don’t tend to realize that until you need it. Such as when trying to pick up a glass or a pen.

The very laboured point I think I’m trying to make is that we tend to take our partners for granted and don’t grasp their importance until they’re no longer there.

Anyway her travel timing has been impeccable. I, for one, would not fancy flying from the US to the UK given this week’s events. I’m sure she's having a real blast (no pun intended).

Make Your Own Rules.

Here’s a scenario for you. Imagine your political party is just weeks away from Election Day and the result is likely to be close. In fact there’s an even chance you could lose. Any little thing you can do to sway the voters could be of crucial importance.

So someone comes up with the idea of re-running the pledge card ploy that had been so successful in the past. The only problem is the Party’s used all the money allowed by electoral spending rules. How to overcome this? Well a bright spark suggests using the pledge card as an educational tool. We’ll be educating the voters on policy, not electioneering, so we can take it out of another budget. Hmm think the party apparatchiks … sounds like we’ll be sailing close to the rules here, but if we can play a few semantic games perhaps we can get away with it?

Then a blow, the Chief Electoral Officer says your plan goes against the rules and is an inappropriate use of $447,000 worth of taxpayer money. Here’s a real conundrum; heed his advice and lose the election, or ignore him and have a chance at clinging to power. Option one consigns you to the opposition benches, something you want to avoid at all costs. Option two could see you back in Government, yet with a breach of electoral spending rules hanging over you. A breach you can use your power as the Government to confound, confuse, ameliorate, and legislate away.

Do you reckon that’s a risk worth the taking? Well it seems someone within the Labour Party did.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Note to TVNZ

Sometimes you just have to look at TVNZ and ask "What the farrk?"

Case in point is the State Broadcaster's latest initiative with newsreaders Simon Dallow and Wendy petrie. In a flash advertisement come promo the much coiffured couple are seen "getting down wid da yoof" going from location to location asking the younger generation whether they think the lowering of the drinking age has been a good thing. And then at the end of their spiel viewers are invited to text One news with their opinions as well.

What kind of news are these people trying to generate FFS? Is it the case that something has to to be popular to be news or what? Or are they trying to give some sort of image that Simon and Wendy are "proper journalists"?

Sorry guys, your clothes-horses who read autocues ... no more, no less. Stop prancing about pretending to be concerned and mouthing false homilies and read the fucking news.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Leaking at the Seams.




Duct tape is a marvellous invention. Even the Parliament Buildings are sometimes in need of its restorative properties.

The recent bout of bad weather has revealed the pavers out the back of the executive wing aren't as watertight as had been hoped. The result is the underground areas have been getting a bit damp. Amazing that they've spent 44 million dollars on revamping Parliament and the place still leaks.

There's your taxpayer dollar working for you.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Getting High with Jim and Clayton.

When it comes to illicit drugs I can take them or leave them. I’ve had my phase of chemical experimentation and from what I remember it wasn’t too bad. In the words of Hicks I didn’t kill anyone, didn’t rape anyone, didn’t lose a “single” job. Basically I laughed my arse off and went about my day. But that’s not to say drugs are a lifestyle choice for me. Cocaine makes me jabber like an idiot, pot puts me to sleep, the limited buzz off ecstasy isn’t worth the price of a tab, and thanks to a needle phobia, I’ll never go anywhere near heroin. Methamphetamine has its moments but the downer far outweighs the upper and as you get older dealing with a come-down (like hangovers) gets progressively harder.

So my theory on drugs is simple. If they’re there and I’m in the mood I’ll take them. Otherwise I can leave them well alone. If other people want to do them and no one gets hurt by it, then hey knock yourself out I don’t care.

However the times they are a changing. One shudders from using the phrase nanny state but that seems to be what’s happening in this day and age. Incrementally the Government is making decisions about what we can and cannot put into our bodies. Obviously the illegal drugs are the main targets but give a steering group, or a politician, a chance and even the stuff that’s legit’ ends up becoming a no-no. For example BZP and Nitrous Oxide.

The BZP issue is one I have a passing acquaintance of, as it was a newsroom I worked in that drew it to public attention, and later hysteria, about four years ago. BZP, or Benzylpiperazine, was used predominantly as a bovine worming powder in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was withdrawn when more efficient new generation drugs were developed. I recall at the time when we were contacting doctors and vets about it they were absolutely flabbergasted that people would choose it to get high. What would its side effects be we asked? “Well they’ll have clean intestines and shiny coats was the invariable response”. At that stage not a lot seemed to be known about BZP though the consensus was, like any drug, if you take too much of it then there’ll be consequences.

BZP use has never caused the death of a human. It’s only recorded involvement in a fatality was a case in Europe however the victim had also been using ecstasy and her death was connected with over-consumption of water that sometimes occurs when people use the drug. Yet this doesn’t stop the doomsayers from issuing their prophecies of doom. In NZ Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has often quoted a case of a woman from Kaiapoi who almost died from taking BZP. What he conveniently neglects to mention is that the woman’s illness was a consequence of her being allergic to an ingredient in the party pill she took. Coincidentally he’s the MP leading the charge to have BZP and party-pills outlawed.

Personally BZP is not something I’d care to use and I’d agree it’s probably not a good thing for teenagers to be taking either. But is it deserving of being the centre of a political crusade when there are far worse drugs, such as “P” wreaking havoc across all levels of our society?

Now lets look at Nitrous Oxide which the country’s Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton would have us believe is destroying young lives, promoting antisocial behaviour, and (shudder) leads to the use of hard drugs. In April 2005 Anderton began his moral crusade against Nitrous Oxide or NOS. He had, he claimed, a legal opinion from the Crown Law Office that the sale or purchase of NOS for recreational use was illegal. A crack-down was proclaimed amidst promises those caught in breach of the law would be dealt with harshly.

Well three months went by and the party pill shops were still merrily selling it by the balloon full. Enquiries were made to police and the Ministry of Health along the lines of “Umm this crackdown you were talking about … well what’s happening?” The response? “We’re giving them an educational grace period to get into line”. Five months after the crack-down was announced an authorities ran their one and only enforcement operation. Six shops in Christchurch were visited on August 31st. So what was touted as a national initiative ended up happening just once, in one city. A city, which coincidentally, is where Jim Anderton lives.

Would you be curious as to what the result of this enforcement operation was? Well I’ll tell you. The Ministry of Health has only recently, and very grudgingly, admitted that only one retailer was referred for prosecution. But oops he’s done a runner and they can’t find him to drag him through the Courts.

The word is police don’t believe they can take a successful prosecution, which is why NOS has become such a low profile issue in the last year. They can brandish enforcement as a threat but they really don’t want to take a case to Court and lose because if they do retailers will be back to the merry ways without fear of punishment.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Party Time.

Well it's been the last week in the House before a two week recess and because it's the middle of the year there's been a few gathering during the week. My spies tell me there's been some interesting attendances.

Tuesday night saw United Future and the Greens have their bashes. My spy eschewed United Future on the basis it would be red wine and communion biscuits and a lot of hearty prayer and made a beeline for the Greens. Apparently the organic beer was exceptionally good this year and the finger food superb (although Sue Kedgley was taken to task for its origins not being labelled). Among the usual Green Party hangers on there were some guests whose presence might not have been anticipated. Quite a few Nat's turned up, notably Party leader Don Brash and Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee. The word is being exposed to such a gather of rampant socialism didn't cause them to spontaneously combust and they actually appeared to enjoy themselves.

On Wednesday night it was the National Party's turn. According to my Molesworth mole the Nat's are party animals when they get going (which is kind of hard to believe from their everyday appearance)and this was no exception. Celebrations went into the wee hours leaving many MP's worse for wear the next day. Their attendance at Select Committees on Thursday morning was somewhat sparse.

Anyway in the spirit of reciprocity a number of Green MP's made it along for the event. It's hard to imagine Keith Locke boogying down with the Judith Collins and Murray McCullys of this world but apparently it did happen.

One can only imagine what the Labour hacks are making of this new Blue _Green relationship. Especially in light of the Government losing a vote on microchipping last week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Still Dancing - But is it Horizontal?

Some interesting observations were to be made in Parliament during question time today. After a lengthy absence through his Dancing with the Stars duties ACT Party leader Rodney Hide was back in the house.

The rhythmless one appeared to be making up for missed time being very feisty and essentially trying to take on the Speaker Margaret Wilson. He raised one point of order after another during the debate over Auckland's power situation. Now Rodney's normally rambunctious at the best of times but today it seemed as if he was puting on an extra special performance.

I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact his erstwhile dancing partner, Krystal, was watching his every move from the public gallery? It was very obvious that when Hide finished his performance and departed the chamber she was quick to follow.

So their TV dancing my be over but it seems there's still some lambada going on.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

When is Helen Going?

Rumours are floating around the circuit in Wellington as to just how likely it is that Prime Minister Helen Clark will remain in her current position. I’m not talking about a leadership coup, her position at the head of the Labour Party is secure for as long as she wants it. Rather it’s to do with the next job that she is seeking.

It is no secret that Clark has set her sights on the Secretary General’s position at the UN. That story has being doing the rounds for some time and most in political circles are well aware of her ambitions in that direction. However lately there have been a few developments that indicate the Prime Minister’s ambitions may be close to being realised.

So what is the evidence for this?

Firstly, look at the recent surge in State visits she’s been involved in over the past few years. By my count there have been well over 20 and many of them have involved countries that have little or no strategic or economic connections to New Zealand. Lithuania is a prime example. What is the benefit our Prime Minister being involved in such a matter? We do little or no trade with them so why is Clark taking the time to talk to their head of state? Canvassing support, soliciting a vote should she take a tilt at the UN job?

Secondly, a number of European Commissioners have been doing the rounds in Wellington lately. Some of their discussions in meetings with some of the movers and shakers in the National Party have included the possibility of Clark taking over at the UN when Kofi Annan’s term ends. Generally these sorts of conversations only occur when there’s some substance to the subject at hand. It’s common practice for opposition parties to be sounded out to see if they’re amenable before a concrete chain of events is set in motion. Naturally the National Party will be quite happy to see her go, as they’ll have a much better chance of winning the 2008 election if the Labour Party is fighting it with a new leader.

Thirdly, it’s the turn of the Asia-Pacific area to have a Secretary General at the UN. With the precedent now set for politicians to take the Secretary General’s post (e.g. Boutros-Ghali), Clark has a shot.

Fourthly, there has been some discussion about it being a woman’s turn to have the UN job. Historically it’s been a solely male position. If this speculation is correct it’s another factor counting in Clark’s favour.

While there are some strong arguments for Clark’s chances there is also one very compelling reason why she may fail in her ambitions. Namely, the opportunity for a member of the UN Security Council to veto her appointment. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what, or who, the stumbling block may be here. In a word the USA.

Clark is not, and likely never will be, flavour of the month with George W Bush. Apparently her act of sending a congratulatory message to Al Gore for winning the 2000 presidential election has left him holding somewhat of a grudge against her. If she tries for the UN it’s odds on he’ll block it if he can.

Still the discussions on the political cocktail circle are interesting. The fact that they’re happening suggests something might be about to occur.

Mind you it could also be bullshit.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ditch Crossing.

In light of this week’s budget (which was so boring I won’t go into it) there’s been a lot of cat-calling going on. It’s primarily coming from the Nat’s, and it’s all about tax. Well, tax-cuts to be precise.

Don Brash, Gerry Brownlee, and co have wittily suggested the only place that the average hard working Kiwi can get a tax cut these days is in Australia. Phrases such as the ”Bondi Brain Drain Budget” have been flying around willy nilly since Thursday night. Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, with his usual ascerbic humour has suggested if they reckon Australia is so great, then why don’t they just go there. That, he reckons, would be of inestimable value to NZ.

In light of this some wits in the Gallery (yes there are some with a sense of humour working there) having been coming up with suitable nicknames for these National stalwarts should they ever choose to up sticks and cross the ditch. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite:

Don “the dingo” Brash.
John “Coolangatta” Key.
Gerry “Billabong” Brownlee.

Yes, I admit they’re fairly weak. But the concept has potential.

Needless to say the coverage of the budget has struck a few nerves within the Government. The full page spreads and headlines bemoaning the lack of tax cuts saw Cullen’s press secretary, Mike Jaspers, bestriding the gallery corridors on Friday accusing certain media outlets of buying into National Party propaganda. Admittedly he was pretty tongue in cheek about it, but he said it nevertheless. Actually his stance has a certain irony, as it wasn’t too long ago that he was a business reporter for TVNZ, and in that capacity he was never shy of firing a few shots across the bows of Government economic policy.

Finally some questions worth considering:

1) Why were so few of the left wing of the Labour Party at Michael Cullen's post budget drinks?

2) Whose staffer was it that was literally throwing herself all over a certain (single) Cabinet Minister?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back In Circulation.

Either it's coincidence, or the Gods like to have their fun with me when I start a new job. I've yet to have a gradual easing in to a new work environment. It's always a case of finding myself up in it up to my neck and paddling furiously. The move to Wellington has proved to be a similar story.

In my first week on the job there's the biggest pre-budget leak in 20 years. How's that for an introduction to life in the Press Gallery? Never mind trying to find my way around the labyrinth that is Parliament, I also have to join the posse that's hot on the trail of the civil servant that knocked the stuffing out of Michael Cullen's Budget.

Proving that there's no honour among thieves Telecom's dobbed the mole in to the State Services Commission which is handling the inquiry. If a journo did this to a source they'd be hung drawn and quartered for the being a lily livered gutless swine. I guess in this case it's Telecom's last attempt to buddy up to the Government before its license to print money is ripped out of its hands. A futile effort at trying to get back in the Government's good graces.

As to who the leaker is ... well everyone is pretty much in the dark. Parliament's not normally noted for keeping stuff like this quiet but in this case most I have seen are still scratching their heads.

As it stands there are four areas where the leaker could come from. Within Cabinet and its associated staff. From the Ministry of Economic Development, which would have had a major hand in developing the policy. Treasury, which would have done the financial implications and costings. And the Ministry of Justice, which would have advised on the legislation needed for unbundling the local loop.

Now the Prime Minister has pretty much ruled out it being from Cabinet saying she has assurances from her Ministers (whatever they may be worth). However she has let slip that the Cabinet papers that were leaked did go beyond the cabinet area. This is where MED, MOJ, and Treasury come in.

If I was to put my money on it I'd pick Treasury as the source of the leak. I say this because of the tensions between this Government and Treasury (remember the ideological burp). That and the fact there's always been a commonality of opinion between Treasury and Telecom on certain economic approaches ... especially with regard to Government interventionism.

Either way we'll find out next week.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

T' Other Side of the Story

Christchurch man Daryl Falcon's gained a fair bit of publicity in recent weeks for his assault on an 11 year old boy at Mairehau Primary School.

Now here's what the family of the 11 year old boy have to say about the case courtesy of a press release via a local PR company. Make of it what you will.

Media release
April 21 2006

Statement from Michael Teague, father of the young boy involved in an
alleged bullying incident in a Christchurch school

Colin Lee, director of Christchurch company Waimarie, was so concerned at
the pressure that the case involving an alleged bullying incident at a
Christchurch school was having on one of his employees Michael Teague (the
father of the son in question) that he not only sent the father home on
stress leave, but also enlisted the services of a PR firm to help the Teague
family issue a statement from their side of the issue.

Michael Teague has already suffered two heart attacks and is concerned that
undertaking a series of media interviews will further endanger his health.
However, the Teague family realises that they must put their side of the
case to ensure there is balance to this alleged incident and the aftermath.

A Christchurch father, whose son was pushed up against a wall and had a
man¹s fingers poked at his throat, said his son has been unfairly painted as
a habitual bully.

Michael Teague said that only one side of the story had emerged since the
11-year-old, a pupil at Mairehau Primary School, was assaulted by the father
of a fellow pupil.

The two children sat side by side in class and had been sniping at each
other for some time. My son then became annoyed and pushed a book at the
girl¹s arm. The teacher saw the incident and took both children away from
the classroom and gave detentions to both. Does that sound as though my son
was bullying her?

Mr Falcon dropped his daughter at a different school entrance the next
morning, because he knew it was the one my children used. The attack was
witnessed by my other son and daughter, who were terrified. It was also seen
by other pupils at the school. Mr Falcon was called a gentle giant in court
but what he did was a premeditated act of violence.

My son is big for his age ­ he weighs about 69kg. But that is almost 100kg
less than Mr Falcon. What is it saying about violence to have my son treated
in this way by a huge man?

He has never made any approach to us to say sorry, so that¹s why we said
we did not want him to get diversion through the courts.

While it¹s a shame that Mairehau School has not been able to comment
publicly on the case, I understand that they have firm policies in place and
they can¹t be seen to take sides. They have been excellent to us. The
principal, his deputy and the chairperson of the Board of Trustees met with
me and said that there was absolutely nothing to the incident in the
classroom.

It¹s also been brought to my attention that the girl involved in the
incident later encouraged her friends to bait my son, to see if they could
provoke a reaction. A teacher stepped in to ensure this did not happen.

My son has had a couple of other detentions at school, including one for
pushing over a friend. But it was only a falling out between friends and
they have just been away on holiday together. If he was constantly bullying
other children, we would have been told about it. Instead other parents have
been ringing us to support us.

This case has caused enormous stress for my wife and I and I have been
prescribed sleeping pills and anti-anxiety pills to help me get through it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Time For a Change

I'm off to pastures new within a week or so and with the change of location (and job)will likely come a change of focus for the blog. It is with great regret I have to inform you that politics may tend to feature a little more often on this site than it has in the past. I'll try and restrict it to the purely salacious stuff though.

Actually the one thing I have realised is that uprooting and moving to a new city is a right royal pain in the arse. Getting possessions packed, the house sold, and moving companies organised is a unique sort of hell.

Selling the house has proved to be the easiest task of all. Thank God the property market is still trundling along nicely and there are still lots of suckers ... sorry I mean buyers ... out there. Still dealing with estate agents, open homes, and lawyers is not an experience I've enjoyed.

Packing is also a mixed blessing. Sure you find a lot of stuff you thought you'd lost. But you also find a heap of shit you really should have misplaced. Amongst my accumulation of goods I discovered a pair of black stovepipe jeans, black winklepicker boots, and the first two albums Madonna ever released. What the hell was I doing during the 1980's? Given that I also found two break-dancing tapes I sure hope it was drugs.

I've also noticed that moving companies have a nice little rort going when it comes to offering you insurance on your possession for the move. Unless you have a specific moving address identified your own insurance company won't give you cover for the move meaning you have to rely on the insurance package offered by the mover. Private insurance for property worth 150 grand will set you back a couple of hundred bucks. The same insurance from the movers is closer to $900. Is that a rip-off I'm smelling??

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Buiding Blocks

Here's an interesting tale doing the rounds in the construction industry in Christchurch at the moment. It'd be nice to know how much substance there is to it.

Apparently a brand new townhouse has had to be demolished in the Northlands subdivision to the north of the city because it was built on the wrong section. According to the rumour the house was being built while its owner was overseas. The crew that was to lay the foundations turned up sometime last year and came across two empty sections side by side in the sub-division. Somehow they managed to put the foundation down on the wrong site.

From then on every other contractor who was hired for the project naturally followed their lead. Up went the walls, on went the roof, plumbing was connected, plastering, wiring, the whole works. Until it was discovered ... "oops hang on a minute, shouldn't this house be over there?" In the end the whole building had to be taken down and there are a few red faces as a result.

I'm not sure how the stuff-up was discovered. I can only imagine the owner of the section turned up one day and got the surprise of his life.

Friday, March 03, 2006

OK, So the Other Bastards Beat Me to It

Earlier this week I was promising some interesting information on the chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Limited's chairman, Li Ka Shing.

Unfortunately The Press beat me to it. Damn their eyes! (Sorry no online link available for their story.)

It seems the inestimable Li Ka Shing has a very interesting background. See here, here, and here.

Mr Li Ka Shing, I don't know what to make of these stories but you seem to have an interesting back ground.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The President's Brain is Missing!

Have you ever wondered if Dubya had voices inside his head telling him what to do? Well it seems someone did.

Something Serious.

For those of you not interested in local body politics, and I suspect that's most of you, I suggest you look away now.

Recent events appear to be lending weight to the supposition Christchurch's Mayor, Garry Moore, is having some sort of political sea-change. Garry Moore is a member of the Labour Party and has long been an advocate of preserving Christchurch's assets in the ownership of the City Council. He was publicly in support of this approach as a councilor and also from when he became Mayor back in 1998. It was, and remains a part of Labour 2021's policy. In fact the City Council then earned the ire of the sitting National government for its approach and was given the moniker "The People's Republic of Christchurch".

However things have changed. In recent months the Christchurch City Council has removed the Red Bus Company and Christchurch City Facilities from the strategic assets list. This effectively gives the Council the scope to sell them off if it so chooses. Another major policy change has been the proposal to engage in a joint venture over the ownership of the Lyttelton Port Company. The Council's trading enterprise, CCHL, intends to buy out the remaining 31 percent of shares of the company and then sell 49.9% of the company to a Hong Kong based firm called Hutchison Holdings (more on it and it's owners soon).

This is a major policy shift for the City Council and one that begs a few questions. Such as:

1) Why, if retaining assets for the public good is such a good idea, weren't ratepayers residents consulted on this?

2) Why didn't the Mayor, who's wholeheartedly endorsed these proposals, run on it as a platform at the last local body election?

3) Why is Garry Moore following strategies that appear to contradict Labour 2021 policy?

4) Is this a natural result of ongoing Council restructuring which has seen long serving local government managers replaced by recruits from private enterprise?

Garry Moore's explanation regarding the Port Company deal so far has been to argue that a strong overseas investor is needed to make it viable in the long term. He believes the port has been held hostage by shipping companies which have been playing different ports around the country off against each other to get the best deal possible. On Newstalk ZB today he even raised the spectre that shipping companies were considering making Australian ports the hub of their main operations (which is a bit dumb really because that's the way it is anyway).

If the deal goes through the Council, through CCHL, stands to make about 41 million dollars. When you think about it this isn't a lot of money for a major piece of infrastructure, especially when you consider the cost of buying out the 31 percent of the LPC will have to be deducted from it. The word is the Council will only end up with about 14 million dollars on the deal. Even then there's no guarantee CCHL will return the money to the Council as dividend.

Tomorrow - some little known details about Hutchison Port Holdings and its parent company Hutchison Whampoa Limited, and HWL's chairman Li Ka Shing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cheney, Abu Ghraib, and Guatanamo Bay

I'll let the Daily Show say it all ...



I will be posting something vaguely serious in the next day or so.

If I get the time.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dead Eye Dick

There's just so much humour in US Vice-president Dick Cheney's shooting accident. I'd give it a crack but there are people who are far, far better than me. Here are a few samples.
(note broadband is advisable to view these)

From The Daily Show



David Letterman does his bit.



And so does Bob Rivers. Incidentally this is one of the better Aerosmith rip-offs I've heard in a while.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just Links

Have you ever wondered what 100,000 volts might look like? If so, then take a look at this.

Feel like belting a penguin? This will relieve your tension. (491.3 ft is my current best)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

If It Walks Like a Duck ....

This post is dedicated to the Christchurch Central Police Area Commander, Inspector Gary Knowles.

Last September, 17 year old Wayne Darias Silbery was at the wheel of a white 1989 Pontiac Le Mans that was involved in a multi-car pile up on Buckleys Road in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood. Five people required hospital treatment as a result. One teenager, 16 year old Rangi Wano who was a passenger in Silbery's car died from head injuries received in the crash.

At the time of the accident Silbery's car was being followed by an unmarked police car. The police had been trying to stop it as they were trying to apprehend Rangi Wano who had escaped from a CYFS home the previous day. Immediately after the accident Inspector Gary Knowles went to great lengths to impress on the media that police were only following the youths, that there was no police pursuit or chase (you'll have to scroll down a bit to see the news story on this link) happening at the time of the crash.

Well this is what came out at last week's depositions hearing. The driver of the Police vehicle, Constable Richard Carolan, gave evidence that there were two collisions between the police car and the youth's car in the course of the chase which went for about 2-3 km. He also said speeds reached during the pursuit (his words) were up to 100 km/h. This is on roads where the speed limits were 50-60 km/h. During the chase Silbery ran three intersections, crossed median barriers, and drove on the wrong side of the road at least twice before the fatal crash.

Now maybe I'm being a little picky but I reckon when there are speeds of up to 100 km/h recorded in 50 km zones, then it pretty much qualifies as a police pursuit. Doesn't it?

Other bits of information that came out in the hearing was that Constable Carolan had got his gold driving certificate (required training course in pursuit driving for officers) in August. When asked by Silbery's lawyer, David Ruth, he couldn't recall the number of pursuits he'd been involved in.

The issue I have here is not with the police actions in the pursuit, but how they were represented by senior officers afterwards. By categorically denying a pursuit took place Inspector Knowles has effectively hung the Constable out to dry. Constable Carolan now has to justify his actions, which in official terms were not a pursuit, but in reality were.

Did Inspector Knowles not realise details would come out later on in Court that would make his stance look like a deliberate campaign of misinformation. He's handed Silbery's lawyer the tool he needs to rip the police up one side and down the other when this gets to trial. David Ruth may not be able to get Silbery off, but he'll be able to make Canterbury Police look a bunch of incompetents.

On a final aside involving the Christchurch Police. They made an interesting, but unsuccessful, suppression application at this sentencing on Friday. The Crown's submissions bouyed police data which revealed the amount of violent crime had risen in Christchurch by about 40 percent in 2005 compared to 2004. Police had asked the data be suppressed as it normally goes through" further processes" before being released to the public. Good on Judge Erber for not having a bar of it! It'll be interesting to see Christchurch's 2005 crime statistics just to see what happens to the figures quoted in Court last week once they've been further processes.

Anyone care to make a wager that the rise in the"official violent crime rate" will be lower than 40%?