Archive for April, 2008

S59 & Citizen’s Initiated Referenda

April 29, 2008

Grrr – the S59 Citizen’s Initiated Referendum petition on Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law (that tightened Section 59 of the Crimes Act to remove parental ability to use physical force to discipline children except in very limited circumstances) has fallen short on numbers.

This is not the cause of my Grrr – that stems from the appalling methodology of the beauracrats who ‘counted’ the petition. This issue has been commented on by bloggers from the left (No Right Turn) and right (David Farrar), the latter noting the ‘valid signatures’ count came from a “large random sample” of the signatures delivered.

This seems sound enough technique, so long as the estimated signature count is either well over or well under the required threshold of 10% of eligible voters (285,027 valid signatures).

When the claimed valid tally (269,500) is close to the margins of error of any such sampling though, closer inspection is required. This petition fell short by 15,527 or 5.4% of the requisite total. When you get this close to the error (typically around 3%), I would be more comfortable if such petitions had a fuller count.

Of course, the petition organisers may just collect another 15-20,000 signatures over the allowed next 2 months, but it may not be necessary if a closer check finds the original sampling was an underestimate. Point being, when the gap is that close, the officials need to check their methods more closely (which does not imply anything wrong with their methods, just that their ‘microscope’ can’t distinguish between actually tally and required threshold accurately enough).

Hence, the grrrr!

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Petty politics – poverty comes from the rich!

April 29, 2008

National party blogger David Farrar posts on the recent media reports about poverty. Farrar claims if the top 50% of taxpayers declared bankruptcy, then because the poverty threshold is defined as 60% of the median wage, this would drop the poverty threshold to zero, and hence eliminate poverty!

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Petty Politics – drop an anvil on Dunne!

April 28, 2008

I know it’s nasty, but won’t someone do NZ a favour and drop an anvil on the head of United Future leader Peter Dunne? ACME should be able to nick an anvil off Wile Coyote…

Dunne hibernates for 3 years between elections, then wakes up for a few months ‘common sense’ statements, before lurching off to lala land for another term of Parliament.

His latest offeringis ‘common sense’ support for National’s broadband $1.5bn public-private partnership plan. Regardless of merits (or not) of the idea, it is tiresome to have Dunne – whose only statements outside of the election period seem to be cheap personal attacks on the Greens – to call for party politics to be dropped for the glorious goal of faster broadband.

‘Common sense’ Dunne is not – his statements verge on the banal. Stating that faster broadband is a good thing (duh!) is followed by his killer remark that:

“It’d be excellent if politicians spent more time working out the answer to that question [how do we get…widespread, superfast broadband?]”

Now if only witless politicians like Dunne could do their job and actually think of some solutions, I would hang onto the anvil and not drop it on Dunne. It is the job of politicians like Dunne to ask Kiwis for solutions or to think them up himself – if he hasn’t done either then he is a total failure and should be sacked (ahhh, an election this year!).

Certainly commentators like Bill Ralston should not be heaping praise on ‘dead-loss Dunne’ for failing to do more than state the bleeding obvious. Surely?

NZ Rugby blues not solved by cash

April 28, 2008

It has been interesting watching the fur fly following the release of the NZRU report into the 2007 Rugby World Cup fiasco.

While ‘Pinetree’ Meads has called for the guillotine for all NZRU administrators (no argument from me on that!), and NZ Herald columnist Paul Lewis wants privatisation to solve all woes, it is clear that neither move will solve rugby issues in NZ.

Lewis himself scotches the idea that privatising the provincial rugby unions or Super 14 franchises (the latter currently owned by NZRU), saying

Once private investment comes to town… clubs can assemble a creme de la creme playing roster and pay them accordingly… private investment is probably the only way that enough money can come into the game here to prevent the wholesale drain of our big boys… [but] It is also a moot point whether this will attract enough money [to keep them].

Tempting as it is to agree with Meads that a reversion to 1 coach and emptying Joe Stalin out of his mausoleum to conduct a little purge at NZRU HQ, such moves are not going to solve the core problem.

When faced with a 25-40% drop in TV viewers and similar drops in gate takings at matches, it is clear that your ‘product’ (the rugby games) are either of such low quality people can’t even be bothered watching them for free, or that you have saturated the market with said ‘product’. Given the quality of matches does not seem to have dropped enough to cause the free fall in viewers, it is the number of matches that is too high.

 Elementary, my dear Watson, yet evidently too tricky for the NZRU to work out. Perhaps that is because recognition of the real problem carries the obvious conclusion the rugby union do not want to hear – less potential revenue making matches to flog to TV corporations.

Like the farmer who killed the fabled goose that laid the golden eggs (to try get more out of the gooses’ insides), the NZRU is faced with having to content itself with a certain number of matches to market, or drowning the market in matches and killing the marketing appeal of said matches.

One solution:

  • Scrap the Super 14 competition now
  • Use the vacant timeslots to develop a set of genuine regional competitions (say South Pacific,  North Pacific, European, South Atlantic) which opens up the comp’s to teams currently excluded, like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, while giving the US, Canada and Japan a competitve level of rugby in the north. Strengthens international rugby and reduces the need for players to nation-hop to get good rugby.
  • The above regional comp’s would still leave time (beacause regions have less national teams than the 14 Super 14 teams) for regular scheduled bilateral international tours, which also develops rugby as a global game.
  • Enforcing tight national player origin rules on the above comp’s allows the IRB and national rugby unions to relax player restrictions for club comp’s- not a total cure to player bleed to ealthy club comp’s but a start.
  • Add to the above a higher level of taxation by the national unions targetted specifically for supplementary player payouts, and the financial incentive is there for players to turn out for their national team.

Not that hard really, is it? Which makes you wonder why the NZRU hasn’t paid me a hefty consultant fee yet? hehe.

The last point is the key to solving player drain, but it will draw squeals from the foreign clubs, which are mostly privately owned. The big downside to privatised rugby teams – their owners just want maxiumum profits, so will always be opposed to higher levies on them to fund other aspects of the game.

Oh, and sacking NZRU ceo Steve Tew would help… maybe send Colin Meads to do it? (and wish to be a fly on the wall 😉 )

 

China – respect your citizens or lose the Olympics!

April 23, 2008

At least, it would be nice if hypocritical western governments would live up to such a threat. Instead, while western ‘leaders’ decry human rights abuses by tinpot dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, they seem blind to Chinese government murder of it’s own citizens in Malipo in Yunnan province.

The continued angry riots and confrontations between Chinese villagers and big Chinese companies (and the police/army units that back the companies) reveal the true suffering of most Chinese people.

Ignore the pathetic demonstrations by middle class Chinese students in NZ and other western nations – these are the children of the rich elite in China who made their millions on the blood and sweat of Chinese workers – of course these Chinese students protest in ‘nationalistic pride for China’. Methinks they doth protest too much…

True concern for Chinese workers would see the NZ government and athletes withdraw from the Beijing Olympics and lobby the IOC for the Olympics to be shifted to Athens (host of the last summer Olympics and traditional home of the Games). It would also see Helen Clark and John Key rip up the recently signed NZ-China Free Trade Agreement, which will cement in such human rights abuses (free trade deals ignore human rights).

Boycott Beijing Olympics and end ANC!

April 20, 2008

My mind’s made up – it’s time for all athletes and nations to boycott the Beijing Olympic games! Host the Games permanently back at their traditional home in Athens.

Why? Conscious that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the West slamming China for human rights abuses – when the US and UK are two of the worst rights abusers in the world (think Iraq, Guantanamo, etc) – I have tried to see the good in athletes being able to compete independent of politics.

The massacre of Tibetan freedom activists by Chinese troops made that view hard to hold, and now a Chinese ship has tried to force 4 containers of arms into Zimbabwe, right when dictator Mugabe is likely to create a bloodbath (he has a history of this) to retain the power he lost in the March 29 elections.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry still thinks it can peddle lies like:

“What we want to stress is China has always had a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms sales, and one of the most important principles is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,”

and people will accept such nonsense. No! Everyone has a right to interfere in another countries’ internal affairs when those affairs likely involve a government harming it’s own citizens (or claimed citizens). That is why China must lose the games (for Tibet and arms sales). 

<b>Update:</b> Matonga – see below – is actually Zimbabwe’s information minister. The ANC criticism stands though, asthey were very happy to let the arms flow to Mugabe…

Worse, the ANC government of South Africa is complicit, with ‘not so bright’ Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga saying:

“Every country has got a right to acquire arms. There is nothing wrong with that. If they are for Zimbabwe, they will definitely come to Zimbabwe,” he told South Africa’s SAFM radio.

“How they are used, when they are going to be used is none of anybody’s business.”

Wrong answer!!! After a series of oppressive moves against their own people (including privatisation leading to overpricing of basic amenities), the ANC has lost any moral legitimacy and should be removed asap. Would the ANC have said that when the West was selling weapons to the apartheid government of South Africa?

But the primary blame rests with China – still trying to sneakily sell arms to the world while acting like a ‘friend’ of the third world. With friends like these…

Huge congratulations to the SAWATU watersiders union who blocked the arms being unloaded, and the Anglican bishop and activist who took the legal challenge to the ship being unloaded. True heroes worthy of the ‘gold medal’ for upholding human rights!

Skins – but of what colour?

April 19, 2008

Gobsmacked, is how I would describe my reaction to the Australian company “Skins”, who were told by the Advertising Standards Authority to pull racist ads.

The Skins advertisement had a number of black athletes saying things like “If you look the way a black male is built, we’re more muscular, stronger. You want to be like us?”

Yet Skins are considering appealing the ASA decision, claiming they “never intended to offend”! Try substituting “white” for “black” to see if you think it’s racist, Skins…

What did they “intend”, to promote sales by ‘non-offensive’ racism? Bizarre.

Trotter take on liberal left & immigration

April 17, 2008

An interesting post from Dominion Post columnist Chris Trotter. Fresh from a savaging at the hands of the liberal left last year, after he presumed the police had a case against those arrested in the Urewera 19 raids, Chris now challenges the liberal left to answer Peter Brown and NZ First’s implicit questions on (Asian) immigration.

This is good, bold writing from Trotter – it is nice to see he has not been cowed by some overhyped personal attacks (though he should seriously ponder his position on the Urewera 19 and the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’). That said, Chris seems to drift off the plot towards the end.

NDU secretary Laila Harre claimed that Brown’s comments were not backed by any “organised political movement” (well, she could be forgiven for thinking NZ First were not organised 😉 ) Responding, Trotter poses two questions:

“What sort of society is New Zealand becoming?” And, “Are New Zealanders ready to embrace that sort of society?”

Sadly, Chris then wallowed in a sea of despair that pakeha (European) New Zealanders may not allow minority ethnic migrants to realise their equal place in NZ, because pakeha had been so slow giving Maori such recognition. Fair point, pakeha have been tardy Maori a fair deal (and still have a way to go!), but for different reasons to their treatment of more recent migrants. Maori have rights under the Treaty of Waitangi which – if honoured – would see them own a major chunk of NZ’s natural resources, which explains (though doesn’t excuse) pakeha tardiness in recognising rights over the resources that pakeha want to control and profit from.

By contrast, the issue with newer migrants from non-Anglo or Maori ethnic groups (which was Brown’s general point) is concern over integration, financial costs of migration (older, sicker, baby-breeding migrant costs) and the general issue of whether a society should be allowed to democratically decide to remain homogenous (and hence it’s cultural identity) in some aspect.

That is, is it legitimate for pakeha and/or Maori NZ to say “we don’t want a bunch of non-Maori or non-Anglo” migrants because we think they:

  1. May not respect the historic importance of the Treaty of Waitangi
  2. May inadvertently undermine the importance of our religious and/or social views – that is, change our culture from a Judeo-Christian and Anglo rugby-mad culture
  3. May simply not make much effort to form a community (‘what can NZ give me, and if a better deal is on offer from another country, I’m off’)

Note here that some Maori may hold such concerns exactly because many pakeha migrants ticked all 3 boxes above!!!

The example of Yugoslavia is interesting – did it work? Did Tito manage to make a country of disparate ethnic & religious groups into a multi-cultural society, or were they just oil and water co-existing until the state was weak enough to be split into homogenous smaller states as now? (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro)

Trotter is right about one thing – it would behove the liberal left to answer these questons rationally and politely, rather than just rant and bully. The Green and Labour party liberal left rammed through a whole raft of social engineering laws in the last year or so against massive public disapproval, and are likely to pay a heavy price in this year’s election. The only thing that may save them is fear of the extreme liberal capitalist National party…

I await the debate over a multi-cultural society, integration vs assimilation immigration with interest.

Petty Politics – immigrants & free speech

April 3, 2008

Hehe – blogger David Farrar correctly has a go at the Asian students apparently responsible for stealing 800 copies of Auckland University student mag Craccum (which featured a Falun Gong ad the students disagreed with), then Farrar castigates NZ First (for attacking Asian immigration levels).

While I agree with Farrar – Peter Brown of NZ First was borderline racist in implying Asian migration is bad while European migration is fine – we all know this is just NZ First dogwhistling (saying something acceptable, while meaning something unacceptable if publically said) in election year.

However, Farrar does not seem to have noticed the irony in lambasting NZ First for their asian immigration views, while highlighting the very concerns that NZ First sometimes express about Asian immigration.

That is, the socially conservative NZ First has concerns that widespread migration of people from non-pakeha/Pacific background will result in a big chunk of the NZ population who do not value and respect traditional ‘Kiwi’ values, like freedom of speech (say, the freedom to run a Falun Gong ad).

While Farrar critiques NZ First’s hidden message to pakeha voters (vote for NZ First, because we won’t let in people of other cultures), he fails to notice the validity in the ‘overt’ message NZ First sent in his previous post. Namely, that there is a real concern that some migrants have little regard for liberal western values like freedom to speak, assemble, dissent, protest, etc as shown by the Craccum theft.

I suppose it is too much to expect Labour or National to properly fund migrant training in classic liberal values?