Friday, July 20, 2007

Hard to swallow

The innocent pay while the guilty get it for nothing. What is it?
(hat tip Reason)

'Child ' offending

Ron Mark, responding to criticism over his bill to reduce the age of criminal responsibility;

“The current youth justice system is not working to reduce repeat and serious offending, and all the while those with vested interests within the system ignore its failings and continue to applaud it as a ‘flagship’ and ‘world leading’ system."

I tend to agree with this. While Principal Youth Court Judge Becroft says there are no statistics showing 10-13 year-olds offending is "spiralling out of control", the violent offending of 14-16 year olds is worsening. 13 year-olds don't suddenly become violent when they turn fourteen. And it is very difficult to find justice statistics that show they are a problem when they can't be charged in a criminal court!

Here are apprehension trends (Which Becroft also rejects because they may only be telling us about police resourcing, practices and recording)

On the other hand, I have reservations about lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Sending a child to court (and whatever ensues) can have the opposite of the desired effect and entrench his criminality. It's a debate that never goes away. Whether to be harsh or lenient. And there is no black and white answer because we are dealing with human beings. No two are ever the same.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bravo Judy Turner

Well said United Future's Judy Turner. I couldn't even be bothered blogging about this silly bunch of meddlers, the National Council of Women. But Judy Turner has given them and the 180 degree party (National) a good burst.

“So a report written by the National Council of Women will tell the United Nations that New Zealand is experiencing ‘marked change for the worse’ for women,” she says.

“What a load of hogwash. This is simply representatives of the women’s industry trying to justify their roles and push for more funding. They argue that sexist jokes are increasingly common, and more needs to be done.

“National had a ‘PC eradicator’ two years ago. Now they are chasing the women’s vote and proposing that the taxpayer fork out to increase the funding given to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to expand their role and mandate.

“I have to say when you look around the world at countries where women are sold and traded like commodities; and rape victims are murdered by their own family in the name of ‘honour’, it’s a little embarrassing that we have a delegation heading to New York to say that sexism is an increasing problem in New Zealand and sexist jokes are common place.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bugger the bureacrats

I see Rodney is shaking a few trees. From a speech he delivered in Auckland today;

Since the beginning of time our capital city has resented the fact that, while it is the one busily making the rules, it is Auckland that is making the money. It is Auckland that provides New Zealand with its beating industrial and commercial heart; it is Auckland that keeps the lifeblood of money, trade and commerce pumping through the veins of New Zealand.

Auckland is where the nation's economic might lies - and it is because of this that Wellington has always viewed us with a 'divide and conquer' mentality. United we stand, divided we fall - and with eight councils, seven Mayors and 6,000 bureaucrats there's not a whole lot of standing going on.

In essence, the plan itself is very simple - the best plans always are - set them up to squabble amongst themselves. That way they will never be united enough to demand their fair slice of the national pie - because, God forbid, they might actually get it. Because, shock horror, Auckland might start demanding that Auckland taxes actually be spent on Auckland!

Uh Oh

Just writing out a cheque last night and I thought, there's something vaguely familiar about the date. Is it somebody's birthday? Independence Day maybe? No we've had that. Tax Freedom Day? No. Had that. Did I have a dentist appointment? No. Been and done that. Oh yeah. It's my wedding anniversary. At least this year I remembered on the day. Sometimes it's well past before either of us notice. The last of the great romantics - I don't think so. But hey. At least I am not like that blubbering, noisomely sentimental partner of the Nigerian kidnapee. Thank God he was returned and we won't have to see or hear her again. Yuck.

Blame it on the missus

A new book about evolutionary psychology claims,

Men like Barbie-doll blondes, beautiful people have more daughters and a mid-life crisis is not about a man getting old – it's about his wife getting old.

Having read the article, if you are anything like me you will now be mentally going through a list of anybody you know who has had a mid-life crisis or more daughters than sons to see if the theory fits. Does it?

As I have one son and one daughter I figure I must be both rich and beautiful. That or I am neither. Face facts. It's the second. Perhaps I'll go ring a psychic to reassure me that one day I will be both. I need a new 'addiction'.

"When sex is bad for you"

I disagree with Tapu Misa most of the time but her column in today's NZ Herald strikes a chord. But I don't think the difference between men and women is as black and white as she paints it. Plenty of the male species want more than just casual sex as well. (Watch out for Cactus's post on this one.)
My thirteen year-old asked me the other day, not, where do babies come from (he seems to have cottoned on to that with little input from me) but, why would you want to have sex with someone you didn't know? (This after some media item alluding to prostitution.) Why indeed. A very good question.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This is an interesting site;

HAERE MAI TO ALL VISITORS! Welcome to the only website of its kind outside of Aotearoa (NZ). MIO ( has been online since 2004 with approximately 6,273,000 hits to March of this year and now mustering without effort over a million hits every few months! This gives us warranted reasons to move forward with the times as MIO grows from strength to strength.

Most of their news is dominated by Maori Party press releases so I submitted my piece about Hone Harawira's outburst and they have published it. Nearly 100,000 Maori live in Australia - around 15 percent of the Maori population.

In March 2006 there were 389,464 New Zealanders living in Oz and almost one quarter of them are Maori. Next to Poms (at just over 1 million) Kiwis form the next biggest group by country of birth.

Fuel efficiency is dangerous

US research shows that shaving weight off cars to make them more fuel efficient is resulting in many more lost lives. Additionally when drivers can get more miles per gallon they are inclined to drive more thus negating the fuel savings.

Let's hope that the House does not follow the Senate's lead and dramatically raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards across the board.

Raising CAFE standards would only accomplish two things: eliminating consumers' freedom of choice concerning the types of vehicles they can drive; and placing drivers at greater risk of serious injury or death in the event of an accident.

None of the senators have ever designed a car and sold it in the marketplace for a profit, yet they see fit to tell the entire automobile industry what is possible.,,,

....The CAFE standard is a morally bankrupt public policy – an experiment that has killed almost as many people as the number of military personnel lost in the Vietnam War. It's time to end, not expand, CAFE.

Rule of thumb. Whenever government seeks to solve a problem it creates another.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Maori Karaoke

According to the Sunday News;

Hardened criminals have been battling their way through winter behind bars by playing violent video games and competing in karaoke gaming competitions on brand new LCD television screens....Other video games available to the inmates included SingStar - where players battle it out in an on-screen karaoke contest.

Singstar?? I can't wait to see these guys singing "Material Girl" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go". They'll be practising to go on Homai Te Pakipaki when they get out. Brilliant Friday night TV. Have a few drinks while you watch and join in. Better than being at the pub.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Racist accusations an unfortunate diversion

There are communities in the Far North and on the East Cape where children have never seen their mum or dad - or even their grandparents - working. Demoralisation sets in. These communities are rife with drug-taking, crime, alcoholism, obesity and ill-health. This was what our Prime Minister said in 2004. And has the government done anything about the problem? Apart from the jobs jolt policy preventing the unemployed from moving to these workless towns, no. Neither did that policy prevent parents moving to or growing families in these places.

New Zealand has its parallels with Australia. It is not surprising Helen Clark was reluctant to criticise John Howard's overdue actions in the Northern Territories. Any disapproval would have drawn attention to her own government's inability to protect victims of child abuse.

Hone Harawira's outburst, on the other hand, was a red herring. If he had called Howard a statist or even fascist bastard we might have had the real debate which is about how heavy-handed should a government be in tackling problems that exist throughout society but disproportionately among indigenous, poor communities.

Anyone who listens to Willie Jackson and John Tamihere espousing their paternalistic solutions for Maori communities in south and west Auckland might wonder why Hone hasn't labelled them racist. Jackson and Tamihere want to control the benefits going into dysfunctional Maori families, to link the receipt of welfare money to behaviours they see as desirable - getting the children to school, feeding them properly, not taking drugs and boozing till all hours and not neglecting or abusing their children.

If these two men were Pakeha they would no doubt have also drawn the wrath of Hone and the Maori Party by now. And while their ideas haven't stretched yet to alcohol prohibition it is Hone himself who wants tobacco prohibition. Inasmuch as far more Maori smoke than Pakeha surely this, in Hone's terms, is a racist policy too.

There are Aboriginal leaders who have given qualified support for Howard's national emergency actions. One is Noel Pearson who has worked on the Aboriginal problem for decades and come up with similar solutions as Jackson and Tamihere. Is he a racist too?

So we can see that calling John Howard a racist was a complete waste of time and a unfortunate diversion from the harder question I have already posed.

The problem needs to be split in two. There is a law and order component and there is a social component. Howard has a duty to protect the children who are being illegally abused. This he seems to understand better than his detractors.

But, and this is the thorny but, is suspicion a good enough reason to enforce health checks on all aboriginal children? Because some Aborigines get paralytic drunk should all be stopped from drinking? And worse, with the inevitable criminality that goes with prohibition, will the children end up exposed to even more danger?

Howard is no longer prepared to simply speculate about the answers. He is going to find out. And the ends might eventually justify the means.

Meantime, in New Zealand, with its higher regard for human rights (but lesser regard for stopping crime) thousands of children will go on living perhaps not dissimilar lives to some Aboriginal children. Aboriginal children are four times more likely to be the subject of a finding of abuse (neglect, emotional, physical or sexual in that order) than non-Aboriginal. In New Zealand (when a breakdown was last published ) Maori children were twice as likely as non-Maori children to be victims.

Do we need to think about some short sharp doses of paternalism in this country too? Maybe the Jacksons and Tamiheres have it right. Ultimately people have to learn to stand on their own two feet and take individual responsibility for their actions. But if they won't, not even for the sake of their own children, then there is no other choice but to expect and exercise intervention. We used to talk about "breaking the cycle" but the phrase seems to have faded away as generation after generation has proved stubbornly immune to the efforts of social workers and opportunities presented by a strong economy.

Instead of simply slating Howard, Hone should be watching closely and seeing what can be achieved with this last-resort approach. Aspects of it may be needed here.