Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tipping over the Edge

Here's another in the list of mountainbike trails that I've been posting here from time to time. Today's little number is the Tip Track. As you can tell from the picture it's a groovy little descent.

And you can even stop to admire the view on the way down.

Take it from me it's a track you want to always do in the downward direction. Biking up it would require a fortitude not found in mere mortals.

Though I understand there are some fitness freaks that can get to the top in under 30 minutes - not me though.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Paying it Back

I heard an interesting little story when I was ambling through Parliament the other day catching up with a few contacts. It involves Winston Peters, New Zealand First, and the party's election spending as identified by Auditor General Kevin Brady last year.

For about the past 10 months the Press Gallery has been hounding Winston on a regular basis asking him when he intends:
a) releasing the legal advice he sought on the matter late last year.
b) to pay any, or all, of the money back.

About 2-3 months ago Peters said an announcement was imminent but since then nada, nothing, zilch, zib, not a peep from the man.

So what's going on?

Well the rumour is (and I hasten to say it is only speculation) the legal advice Winston Peters has received states that the Auditor General got it wrong. Winston's now loathe to pay back the $160 thousand but is caught in a cleft stick as he knows what public and political condemnation he'll receive should he try to finagle his way out of the situation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Fashion Police

Where have I been? Blame Facebook. It's the greatest timewaster I've come across in an age thanks to Scrabulous. I've been play Scrabble almost incessantly for the past 3 weeks with various friends scattered from NZ, to the UK, and Papua New Guinea.

I guess it has its benefits - apparently "qi" is a word and so too is "jow". There's nothing like having some more useless information to add to the burgeoning list.

Anyway it seems the grip of winter (not that Wellington really has one) is loosening and spring is on the way. I guess this means I've run out of excuses not to be out and about on the weekends and trying to lead a semi-meaningful life.

Mind you Wellington's a bit of a weird place for socialising. The profusion of civil servants and other assorted professional types means there's a certain degree of decorum that I'm still coming to grips with. You see I'm a Canterbury boy by nature so I'm more used to the slightly more relaxed attitude that exists down there. If you feel like going out in Christchurch wearing jeans and a shirt you can pretty much get away with it. A little bit of scruffiness is perfectly acceptable there. Not so in the capital though. Here if you're going out you have to be reasonably presentable and woe betide you if you turn up wearing anything from Hallensteins. For a bloke that managed to get away with not wearing a tie until he was 33 I'm finding it a wee bit of a shock to the system. A few weeks back my trusty old boots ($29.95 at the Warehouse) finally gave up the ghost leaving me with no option but to buy another pair. The Wellington fashionista (or should that be facisnista) got to me and I've ended up with a new pair of $350 dollar footwear.


God help me when I finally get around to buying the shirts and pants to go with them. I suspect I may need a bank loan.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Parliamentary Porkie Pies

And believe it or not I'm not talking about David Benson-Pope.

On Tuesday Herald journalist Simon Collins had a beaut wee scoop about a new anti domestic violence/child abuse initiative that was about to be launched by the Government. naturally this had every other journalist in the Press Gallery scrambling to match it.

But what was the response from the office of Minister of Health Pete Hodgson?

His press secretaries were emphatic in denouncing the Herald story. They said it was completely wrong and no such initiative was planned. One staffer went so far as to suggest Simon Collins had got things mixed up and could be referring to a Ministry of Social Development announcement planned for next month. Even the staff in the office of acting Minister for Social Development and Employment, Steve Maharey, were running the same line.

That is until Maharey went on Radio New Zealand, Newstalk ZB, and Radio Live and confirmed the details of the Herald's story.

And sure enough the policy was announced today.

So what are we to make of this?

Well either Hodgson's staff are incompetent, or they're liars. It beggars belief that they weren't aware of the policy and that it was due for release. Press secretaries, by their very nature, are in those sorts of information loops. While evasion and manipulation is to be expected if they don't wish to talk about such things flat out lying is not.

While journalists always treat press secretaries with a fair degree of scepticism there is a firm rule that lying is not good form. Generally it gets found out and once it is there's no way a reporter will take anything that person says at face value ever again. Any residual trust is dead and buried - permanently.

Lying not only undermines the credibility of the press secretary it also damages the credibility of the the minister. Press secretaries are an extension of their minister, a mouthpiece as it were. Their actions reflect on those that titularly control them.

Pete Hodgson image is now tarred, and it's all because his staff didn't have the good sense to be straight up with the media.

One would have thought Labour would have learned a few lessons from the Benson-Pope experience.

Apparently not.