Friday, August 24, 2007

Stephen Franks running for National?

The DomPost reports this morning about the likely contenders for Wellington Central.

Hekia Parata, who stood for National in the seat in 2002, and former ACT MP Stephen Franks are also believed to be in the running to represent National in the high profile electorate.

Crime and incompetence

I had to make an unscheduled trip up the coast yesterday. We have property in Te Horo and a local farmer runs stock on it. He had rung to say the power had been cut, the electric fences were inoperative and his cows were were becoming difficult to control. After two days of tedious to-ing and fro-ing with the power company (they wouldn't deal with me as David's name is on the account) we were finally able to establish that power lines had been vandalised all along a stretch of road. Thieves steal the earth wire from those power poles which hold transformers. Why? For the copper. In the process of risking their lives they make around $10-12 per pole but cause apparently $10,000 worth of damage. An insight into the criminal mind.

Our power had not been reconnected because to do so risks a power surge which could have damaged appliances in the house also on the property but unoccupied. Somebody had to be present before the reconnection could take place. Fair enough but wouldn't you think the power company would have contacted us as the account holders. No. They just disconnected the power and left a note on the gate (despite many properties having absentee landlords). Not a thought for what they might have been cutting power to or the repercussions. Sounds vaguely familiar.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A perfect Kiwi ATM

I was initially nonplussed by this story because the only ATMs I have ever used don't supply $10 notes. But this was a different species. It was a Kiwibank ATM.

Yesterday the $10 slot was loaded with $20 notes and the $20 slot with $10 notes. People queued all day to get double the pay-out.

Of course some attempting to make larger withdrawals were penalised by receiving smaller amounts.

The perfect symbol for NZ society. A redistributionist ATM.

Just another handy feature from your very own 100% kiwi-owned bank.

Laying on a guilt trip

This has got to be one of the stupider things Pete Hodgson has ever said;

"In particular, all New Zealanders should be ashamed that Maori life expectancy is still lower than European New Zealanders."

Memo to myself when I look in the mirror tomorrow morning. Having donned sack cloth and ashes berate yourself over too many Maori dying prematurely. And while you are at it hang your head about too many men shuffling off the mortal coil before their partners.

But perhaps Pete should be particularly pointing the finger at Asians. I mean, they should be really, really ashamed because they are getting more than their fair share of life. Yeah. Let's blame the Asians. That might win you a few votes too Pete.

How I hate this collectivist claptrap that we are all somehow responsible for other people's outcomes. It's enough to drive you to an early grave.

Memo to Pete. Piss off. Please.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finished it - bugger

I loved Rodney's book. Have you ever read a book where you don't want the writer to move on? I didn't get enough about the long days spent working with his father on the trucks in and around the Canterbury Plains or backwards and forwards to the West Coast. It was another time. For anyone of my generation or older a deep sense of nostalgia develops for a New Zealand we won't see again. (Of course there are plenty of aspects we should be glad to see the back of but not in this book). Remember how you felt after watching the Fastest Indian and that's what the early stories evoke. I didn't want Rodney to leave New Zealand to go travelling because I couldn't possibly be as interested in life on an oil rig or in India or in Parliament in the same way. I needn't have worried. I kept turning the pages fascinated, repelled, frustrated, entertained, enlightened. It's a read that just keeps a hold of you.

An admission. When I'd initially read the extract in the Sunday Star Times I said to myself, "Oh my good Lord. What has he written". It almost felt Mills and Boonish. The struggles in the arms of the beautiful Krystal culminating in a bittersweet ending, turned triumphal. Yikes!

The problem is simply the chapter needs to be read as part of the entirety.

One day I will learn to trust Rodney. He knows what he is doing and where he is going. There's a fine line underfoot when someone decides to expose their life to the public. Auto-biographies risk a level of self-indulgence that can turn the reader off. Whether by intention or accident Rodney stayed firmly on that fine line. As I said, this is a book you get to the end of wanting more.

A film maybe?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Looking good - still time to make a submission

Regulatory Responsibility Bill—Submissions and Timetable

1. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Chairperson of the Commerce Committee: How many submissions have been received to date on the Regulatory Responsibility Bill, and what is the timetable for the hearing of submissions?

GERRY BROWNLEE (Chairperson of the Commerce Committee): I am informed that the Commerce Committee has received some 180 submissions, and that the overwhelming majority of those submissions are in favour of the bill, as was the case at the House vote when the bill was read for the first time. The select committee will set down a hearing programme that allows all those who want to be heard to be heard, and expects to report the bill sometime in mid-November.

Rodney Hide: Is it too late for members of the public to make a submission to the Commerce Committee—would it be possible for the committee to receive those submissions?

GERRY BROWNLEE: The select committee’s deadline for submissions was 10 August, so the official period has closed. However, I am certain that should people wish to make a submission on this particular bill, the committee would be prepared to at least receive those in the interim. One of the things that is striking about this bill is the overwhelming number of submissions in favour of it.

The on-line submission page is closed but if you go to you can find out how to make a submission to the Commerce Committee by snail mail.

Confession time

John Key says me too. I've been to a strip club.

So I better confess now - I went to a live sex show. In my defence I didn't have much choice. I had ferried three male workmates from Southend to Amsterdam for the weekend. They were determined to do everything there was to do. Tagging along I found myself in a seedy club trying not to watch two washed-out, disinterested people going through the motions. I kept falling asleep.

The great hilarity was the male performer was manually directing newcomers to their seats without a break in the performance. We wondered if he'd be selling ice-creams at half time.

What scheme???

This is news to me. Looks like the Children's Commissioner is getting her way. A scheme to check all four year-olds for health or behavioural problems will be piloted in Manukau and Wanganui and then rolled out nationally from February. But who is responsible for this huge undertaking? A search of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and Children's Commissioner websites drew a blank.

Found it. Announced yesterday by Pete Hodgson. B4 School Checks. That's cute. Perhaps they can link it up with B1 and B2 from Bananas in Pyjamas. Bananas. Yep. That's it. They have budgeted for the checks but not ensuing action.

Only in a nanny state is it necessary to check every single 4 year-old. And it is one more step towards this which has been introduced and vigorously opposed in the UK. Here is reaction from September 2006;

Civil liberties and children's campaigners are to hold a conference at the London School of Economics on Tuesday to highlight their concerns.

Terri Dowty, director of children's rights group Arch, said: 'Who is bringing children up? Are parents effectively nannies for the state's children or are children born to families and the state just helps families when they ask for it?'

Dr Eileen Munro, an expert in child protection at the LSE, said: 'The authority of parents is being eroded because the children's services, health education and social care are being asked to intervene.

'On the whole parents are the greatest source of safety and welfare that any child has.'

Jonathan Bamford, the Assistant Information Commissioner which polices access to information, said there was no justification for keeping check on 12 million children when only a small proportion were at risk.

He said: 'When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, is it necessary to keep building bigger haystacks?

'The cause for concern indicator against a child's record is expressed in very broad language. For example, it could be cause for concern that a child is not progressing well towards his or her French GCSE.'

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: 'We are heading towards a situation in which an entire generation of kids won't know what privacy is, as though we are preparing them for prison rather than life in a free society. It is time to ask ourselves why we sacrifice the privacy of our children first.'

Monday, August 20, 2007

Welfare Trivia

There are 17 beneficiaries on the Chatham Islands. 8 on the DPB and 9 on an invalid's benefit. I didn't know that till today. I wonder how often they have to check in with their case manager?

This represents about 3-4 percent of the working age population - much lower than on the mainland.

Going down in a blaze of glory

Would it be possible to singlehandedly rack up a $30,000 bill in any New Zealand restaurant?

(Showing my ill-breeding)

Manifestly iniquitous

Beneficiaries get priority healthcare

Beneficiaries will be fast-tracked for operations and depression counselling under a $10 million-a-year Government scheme.

From September 24, sickness and invalid beneficiaries will be assessed by GPs and case managers to get priority treatment, such as counselling for depression and operations for hernias and varicose veins.

The Ministry of Social Development says fast-tracking procedures for beneficiaries should not push others off hospital waiting lists because funding is separate.

Firstly, this scheme isn't new despite having a new name, Working New Zealand. PATHS has been operating since early 2004 when it was piloted in South Auckland. At that time there were around 112,000 people on sickness or invalid benefits. Now there are 125,000 and they are still rolling it out around the country. As an exercise in curbing growth on these benefits it has been a complete failure. BUT there are individuals that have positively benefited from it.

If I were an MP I would be asking these questions;

Why is the government prepared to spend millions of dollars on private surgery and treatment for sickness and invalid beneficiaries but not on the thousands of other New Zealanders currently on waiting lists?

Shouldn't it be as least as important to fix people before they get so bad they are unable to work, and if not, why not?

Notwithstanding helping people back to work is a good idea, why do those on benefits have a greater entitlement to private surgery than those who are not?

Why are millions of dollars available in the Ministry of Social Development budget to alleviate pain and suffering through private surgery, but not in the Ministry of Health's budget?

From 2003, when these ideas were first mooted,

• ACT Party leader Richard Prebble agrees that it makes no financial sense to pay a welfare benefit to people who could return to work if they had an operation. But why stop there? Prebble: "If it makes sense for accident victims and sickness beneficiaries to have operations done more quickly and cheaply in private hospitals, they why not have the same service available to the rest of us?"

Isn't that what we are made to pay tax for?