Archive for November, 2008

Fourth times a charm for NZ Cricket

November 26, 2008

And so yet another confident contender embraces the role of incumbent Black Caps coach. Congratulations to new NZ mens cricket coach Andy Moles, who will hopefully bring his Warwickshire batting experience to bear profitably on the all too fragile Kiwi batsmen.

(more…)

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NZ left-wing govt elected…or not

November 22, 2008

Grrrr – the desire to let vent with a righteous “I told you so” is incredible about now. The Chief Electoral Office has just released the final NZ 2008 election results, and the National-Act-Dunne government stands.

Total MPs are:

  • National 58, Act 5, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 43, Anderton 1, Greens 9

News and opinions are up at NZ Herald and Stuff (both based on a NZ Press Association article, which incorrectly equates a 0.32% party vote gain for the Greens as 70,000 party votes – it is actually a rise of 22,991 votes), and National party activist blog Kiwiblog (who notes how close Labour came to pinching another MP off National).

Update: The Greens now have their views up on the final result.

But it should have been close, and wasn’t. Why?

Because the arrogant left-wing parties that used to form the government refused to even consider the desperate need to remove the 5% threshold gerrymander (it was raised informally with them regularly over the last 5 years). Without any threshold (and with no rounding up of partial MPs), a Labour-Anderton-Greens-Maori-NZFirst government was possible. It would even have been able to be formed if we took the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold (equating to earning 1 list MP) and rounded. Sigh.

No-threshold results (meaning no discarded votes) would have been:

  • National 53, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 40, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 4

giving a total of 116 with a majority of 58 (including speaker) to Labour-Greens-NZFirst (the lower total seats is despite the 2 overhang seats of the Maori Party, and is caused by rounding all parties partial MPs down – they have to earn the full MP to get them).

Taking the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold and rounding up or down partial MPs would have given:

  • National 55, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 42, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 5

giving a total of 122 MPs with majority (including speaker) of 61 to Labour.

Of course, that assumes people would still have voted the same way, which they almost certainly would not have if they knew the threshold was changed or not there at all. One assumes voters would be less inclined to tick the ‘media stunt’ Bill & Ben Party, and that voters would be more likely to vote for minor parties like Family Party, Kiwi Party, NZ Pacific Party as they had a more realistic chance of getting the roughly 12,500 or 17,000 votes (depending on whether you round or not) required to EARN a list MP.

An interesting sidepoint is that with a 0.83% threshold¬† – or better still with none – the annoying “win 1 electorate and get all your party vote, even if under 5%” rule would be unnecessary, simplifying the rules nicely.

Incidentally, all other variations of threshold and ’rounding vs truncation’ would give a National-led government, sometimes with 1 MP each to the (supposedly) Christian fundamentalist Kiwi Party and to the Bill & Ben Party. But if people want those parties to represent their views in Parliament, so be it – that’s democracy. What is not democracy is the stupid Labour-Greens MPs and party workers sitting on their hands complacently, wondering why they are now in opposition for the next 3 years! And the NZ public have had 153,461 of their votes ignored…

The Essential Qualities of Marriage

November 19, 2008

It is hard to express how gob-smacking and insulting this French appeals court ruling on a marriage is. Tragic for the couple involved, but even more so for France, if a handful of witless ‘feminists’ and judges can overturn global human understandings of what a marriage is.

Summary of events – Islamic husband rejects wife on wedding night when he discovers she is not a virgin. She agreed the next day to his request for annulment of the marriage. Lower court annuls marriage, but ‘feminists’ howl, so gutless minister forces state to appeal, and appeal court overturns ruling. Meaning the marriage still stands, despute niether husband nor wife considering their marriage valid, and dishonesty of 1 party to the marriage going into it.

Stunning. At the heart of this decision is what the court accepts to be the ‘essential qualities’ of a marriage, breach of which are grounds for annulment. The French appeal court claims that a spouse lying, and misrepresenting their sexual history do not undermine the trust and love necessary for marriage. Which makes you wonder what French appellate judges consider marriage to be? I wouldn’t trust a business partner who lied to me, let alone misrepresented their business history to me; how much more important to be upfront in an intimate relationship like marriage?

Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states:

Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

How can the a spouse give ‘free and full consent’ if that consent is undermined by lies by the other contracting partner? Quite apart from trust, it is a legal nonsense.

And the court appears to have overlooked the implications – the most obvious of which is that they have come within a hair’s breadth of legalising adultery, and nullifying millions of divorces! After all, adultery involves a spouse lying about their sexual activity – same as this wife – but about sexual activity after the marriage takes place rather than before (as for the wife in this case).

But if sexual history and honesty about that history are not ‘essential qualities’ of marriage, a strong case can be made that post-marital adultery is no more a breach of marriage than ‘pre-marital adultery’ (fornication). With adultery being the sole grounds for a huge proportion of divorces, the Douai appeals court may have rendered such divorces void. Which would make for a really awkward Christmas, to say the least…

Sadly, a large part of the reaction against the initial annulment that led to this crackpot appellate ruling, seems to have been anti-Muslim bigotry. References to virginity having no place in marriage in this ‘democratic and secular’ France reveal nothing about the state of the claimed marriage, but a lot about the attitudes of those pushing the annulment overturn. Notice these hypocritical ‘feminists’ have not been howling over the woman who ‘divorced’ her husband over his ‘Second Life’ computer game adultery

Get a brain ‘feminists’ & French courts – no spouse (male or female) has a ‘human right’ to cheat on their husband or wife before or after the marriage. Lying about it certainly undermines the whole basis of marriage – the two people becoming one in love.

Scrap undemocratic thresholds!

November 10, 2008

New Zealand has voted in a new government, and this outcome would not be altered by variations on the current 5% MMP threshold, but…

The 5% threshold is nothing more than a disgraceful Labour & National gerrymander designed to inhibit the number & size of the minor parties that get elected, and consequently keep the 2 big parties entrenched (alternately) in power. A truly shameful and undemocratic farce. No Right Turn and Graeme Edgeler have both blogged on this already (update: and so has National party activist David Farrar at Kiwiblog and a more rational post by Green party member Ari at g.blog).

Tiddler parties find it relatively easy to get the 500 voters they need signed up as party members, so they can register their party and have it appear on the list of parties (so they can get a share of the party vote). But the hurdle is then enormous to get enough party votes to cross the ‘5%¬† of the party vote’ threshold to actually get MP’s allocated to their party (roughly 110,000 votes). So ‘conservative Christian’ Kiwi Party and ‘single-issue’ Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party parties register, but with only 11,659 and 7,589 votes respectively, they have no chance of passing the 5% threshold.

There is a backdoor way of avoiding the 5% threshold – get 1 or more electorate MP’s elected, and any amount of party vote your party has is counted. For example, Jim Anderton keeps winning Wigram electorate, so his 0.93% of the party vote is counted (though it is not high enough to get him a second list MP).

But what would the NZ election outcome look like if there was no 5% threshold? Depending on round-off, NZ First would have gained 5 list MP’s, and the Kiwi Party and The Bill & Ben Party would have got 1 list MP each, at the expense of 1 ACT, 2 Labour and 4 National list MP’s. Of course, if the voting public knew they had no threshold, the chances of the ‘joke’ Bill & Ben Party getting that many votes is far lower.

With 120 MP’s (unless there is an overhang, caused by a party winning more electorate seats than their proportion of the party vote would have given them), there is a ‘natural’ threshold of 0.83% of the party vote – every time a party wins 0.83% of the party vote, they get another list MP.

So having no threshold means a party either wins electorate seats or gets chunks of 0.83% of the party vote to get each list MP. This then gets complicated by the problem of what to do with the tiny proportions of party vote that aren’t enough to get that party another list MP. That is, if a party gets 2.7% of the party vote, that entitles them to 3 list MP’s (3 x 0.83% = 2.5%) but leaves 0.2% of the vote ‘wasted’ – not enough to get another MP.

So the Chief Electoral Officer junks the party votes that don’t earn another MP, or don’t give enough votes for a party to get even 1 list MP (assuming that party didn’t win an electorate seat). They then recalculate the party vote share based on this new, slightly smaller ‘pie’ of 120 MP’s, and allocate enough list MP’s to add with each parties electorate MP’s to get their total ‘slice of the pie’.

Removing the threshold altogether does run the risk of ‘extreme’ or ‘joke’ parties winn ing a list MP, but that is democracy – if people vote that party in, they should get the representative of their choice. And the prospect of joke MP’s is lower when people know there is a lower threshold. But even if such ‘extreme’ or ‘joke’ parties get an MP, they would have little impact. Peter Dunne & Jim Anderton have next to no impact on laws, with just 1 MP each.

But a large part of that is because party vote is rounded up or down to make whole list MP’s (instead of 1/4 a list MP, say). Truncating party vote means parties have to actually earn every vote to make up 0.83% of the party vote to get each list MP. Meaning the Kiwi Party, with 0.56% of the party vote would not get any MP’s, instead of having their 0.56% rounded up to 0.83% and get 1 list MP (and have Taito Phillip Field’s NZ Pacific Party – on 0.33% of the party vote – get rounded down to nothing).

Time to junk the 5% threshold – it is undemocratic, totalatarian nonsense. Of course, scrapping the 5% threshold just makes MMP more democratic – there is a whole other debate on why a party-based electoral system like MMP is nowhere near as democratic as it should be… (think MP’s ignoring overwhelming public opinion on issues that they hope will go away before the next election).

All hail the Obamessiah!

November 5, 2008

US Republican presidential candidate John McCain just conceded, and liberals all over the States have gone berserk, weeping and falling to the ground to worship the new President. It really is that stomach churning. And I’m not exactly a Republican kinda guy…

What is interesting is that in NZ’s Scoop website coverage, the first thing Gordon Campbell wrote about after the announcement of Obama’s presumed election (always wait for the official result – remember 2004?), was abortion. Namely, the US President’s ability to appoint new Supreme Court judges, and the impact Obama would have on the Roe vs Wade abortion legalisation decision.

Obama is rumoured to want a Freedom of Choice Act, similar to the legalisation moves recently passed in Victoria, Australia; removing all reference to abortion being the taking of a human life (current laws allow that unborn child’s life to be taken, but claim it is justifiable, so makes it legal). Will Obama listen to the pro-life voices, or will he trample on human rights of the most vulnerable?