Thursday, July 31, 2008

My take on the Republican movement

TheRepublican Movement has announced its top 10 nominees for the first President of New Zealand.

It's hard to articulate why I favour our current status quo i.e. Queen as head of state.  My opinion is evolving over time.
The advantages of kinship and  friendship have been debunked.  Just ask anyone who have tired to get a UK visa. 
Economically there doesn't appear to be any advantage for being a sovereign nation.  Great Britain's trade agreement with the European Economic Community put an end to that. 
Traditionally the UK is the first port of call for any New Zealanders heading overseas, but since the EU enlargement many of the jobs we use to get have been taken by the Polish.
So what reasons does that leave for why NZ should stay a sovereign nation? 
1.  Everyone knows the Queen and the British royals.  This gives a small country like NZ prominence of the world stage when they visit.
2.  Uniqueness.  Republics are a dime a dozen.  Only 16 nations can claim to be a realm of the commonwealth; it adds to our character.
3.  Politics.  Having a head of state above political influence is refreshing.  Even though the Government General is appointed by the government (with the Queen's approval).  Governments come and go, having a fixed family as head of state is like a constitutional anchor.
4.  History. 
5.  The New Zealand's fascination with the royals; better inside than out. 
The reasons above are not as good as the used to be i.e. economic and immigration wise.  But they are good enough to justify remaining a sovereign nation.  I don't accept David Farrar's reasoning that we should become a republic in order to enhance our constitution (due to Labour's disregard for convention) because we can do this anyway through entrenching certain laws. 

"What I liken this to is imagine Santa Clause sitting down and hacking into your kids bank account, transferring money out of your kids bank accounts in to his, then buying you a present with them.  And you suppose to fill grateful for that".

The statement above was typed out word for word from Dr Cullen's piece on One News.  It a breathtaking display of hypocrisy given that Interest Free Student loans, Working for Families, and 20 hours free child care are essentially taken out of your bank account and given back to you in Labour gift wrapping.  These policies that Cullen has introduced are going to be very hard for any government to drop and will only increase in cost as time goes on.  They were introduced to win votes in the short term.
Tax cuts on the other hand stimulate the economy by offering a reward for the hour's you've worked.  
On the surface John Key's decision to adopt the full WfF is disappointing.  However, as David Farrar pointed out, to develop an alternative policy without the aid of government departments is difficult.  WfF would've been developed over a period of years by experts in the public service at a considerable cost to the taxpayer.  So with that in mind it makes sense to keep the policy until you have the government departments at your disposal to develop something better (and least intrusive). 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Three news Journalism or lack of it


Known for Don Brash's race relations rant four years ago, tonight it was John Key's turn. However this time it was not for any policy announcement, but rather the fact that he apparently did not want the media there to cover it.

TV three's political coverage is often schizophrenic but this story was particularly annoying. 

1.  What was the point of the story?

2.  Where do they get off calling Don Brash's race relations speech a 'rant' - an emotive word which conveys an opinion.  They should just stick to the news and let the viewer form an opinion. 

Siding with Winston Peter's is like making a pack with the devil, but he does have a point about political journalism in this country.  And TV one isn't any better - remember their shocking story that someone in the National Party wasn't a fully signed up climate change believer. 

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Helen's out of date!


...... car wise. 
The picture below is of BMW's new 7-series.   It goes on sale in the UK on 15 November 2008 - which coincidentally (or ironically) is one of the proposed election dates. 
Looks a nice car too - leaner than the current 7-series.  Though, on first impression, I don't like the tail lights and the oversized kidney grill.
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While John Key shared quality time with his family in Omaha and Bill English mixed pleasure with business in Samoa, there was no time for holidays in Labour-land.

To rub in the point, Helen Clark said of her National rivals: "They do tend to work pretty short weeks and years in my experience. I've found this job is pretty all-consuming."

In her attempt to have a dig at John Key and Bill "clever man" English over the hours they work, I think she casts herself in a negative light.  I would like the PM of New Zealand to maintain a work/life balance, just like anyone else.  If the PM has no time for herself, then to me that shows she's not working efficiently, or delegating appropriately, or is creating work for herself (she has to 'look after' the country). 
Don Brash was also renowned for his workaholic nature.  The difference with him is that he wasn't one to gloat about it, or more tellingly, use it for a personal attack.


At the 60th anniversary dinner, Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem delivered a strong message that Israel wants New Zealand to stand up for human rights around the world.

The subtext (delivered more directly in a subsequent official foreign affairs consultation in Wellington) was that New Zealand should take a more condemnatory approach to Iran, not just beat-up on Israel. 

I reckon Helen's much touted foreign affairs expertise is nothing more than a farce.  On the big issues such as Israel, a nuclear armed Iran, Iraqi situation, and Mugabe - Helen Clark is either silent or a vocal critic at best.  She offers no solutions, and she's not prepared to go out on a limit - just repeat her stock UN line.
But Downer is expected to be confirmed soon as special UN envoy for Cyprus and will continue to be a public voice on foreign affairs through his new blog.  Read it - it's probably the closest you'll get to obtaining a true conservative perspective than anything served up by National here.
I must find his blog and add it to my RSS feed reader.  And I agree with Fran O'Sullivan's point that National has a 'lily-livered' approach to foreign affairs.  But to do otherwise would invite Helen to accuse National of being an American puppet.  Helen has no qualms about damaging our relationship with the US in order to score cheap political points (referring to the 2005 election).


Had Labour given an inkling at the last election of the premium they have had to pay to re-nationalise the railway, and the fortune it is going to cost to cover its likely losses, National's last campaign would have feasted on the information.

But now that the deed is done, the politics have changed. The purchase is the status quo and National will not dare put re-privatisation before the electorate this year, though that may be what it ultimately does with the trains if not the tracks.

John Roughan is right.  I can't remember anti-smacking, Kiwisaver, or re-nationalising the railway being on Labour's agenda last election. 
So all the unreasonable demands for National to reveal what they'll do in government should be meet with the question 'what the hell will Labour do?'.
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

An insite into David Cameron

Put this or other choices on tax or climate change or social justice or social responsibility to a member of Team Cameron and they soon reply "Ah but he is a pragmatist". 
He sounds like a person who has been on a long political journey to get to where he is; the leader of the Conservatives.  Some interesting parallels with John Key.   
John Key and David Cameron represent modern conservatives, the future for their political philosophy and consequently our future.  They're socially liberal and concerned with social justice, but see them as secondary to providing effective, efficient government that doesn't squash personal responsibility and individual freedoms.
US conservatives (the Republicans) aren't quite their yet.  Which is why loosing to Obama could be the best thing for them. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TV3 reports that Clark got it wrong!

"Can I assure her that neither I, nor my family trust, was an owner of shares in Tranz Rail at that time, and she has misled the House."

Miss Clark made no comment, taking the back route out of Parliament. Through a spokesman she says she accepts Mr Key's word. He now wants her to say sorry.

"Sorry would be nice, but I won't hold my breath," says Mr Key.

Heh - Labour's most aggressive line of attack for a while, delivered by the PM herself (instead of

Cosgrove, or Cullen, or Goff) turns out to be complete rubbish.  I'm pleased channel three reported this because channel one certainly didn't and after such an intense battle in parliament one was left wondering. 
The thing is even if the PM's allegations were true, a man like Mr Key would have shares all over the place so it's hardly a demonstrated conflict of interest.  A real scandal would be if Mr Key had invested all his shares in one basket....and then said something so their value increased - which didn't happen of course (much to the PM's disappointment). 
This is the first time the PM has fronted the attack, so it'll be interesting to see how the public reacts.  To me it looks like she's clutching at screws big time!


News cartoons - NZ Herald


Quite extraordinary goings on in the house today.

1. The PM couldn't answer any questions on the cost of the KiwiRail but instead smeared John Key with an allegation that he personally benefited from the sale of the rail in 1993 (at least that's what I think she was alleging).

2. Rodney Hide rode to his rescue - way to go Rodney, he really got to the guts of the matter.

2. Key didn't respond to the allegation initially (why..?) but later tabled a press release revealing the PM is talking rubbish.

It was hard to tell who was more in trouble - Helen Clark or John Key.

The pitfalls of political economics were evident in the Prime Minister's remarks yesterday. "One locomotive can pull the equivalent freight of 65 trucks," declared Helen Clark. But one locomotive cannot take that freight to 65 different destinations. The train will need trucks to deliver much of its cargo at one end of the journey or the other, often both. Multiple handling probably costs more than single long haul saves. Witness Toll's wish to keep the railway's profitable truck depots.
^I was going to blog on this very point today's Editorial made.  The more I think about it the more I
question the viability of profitable rail in NZed.  In Aussie when transporting goods over a long distance e.g. Perth of Sydney it makes a lot of sense to use rail.  But in NZed, a country bisected by the Cook Strait, it makes more sense to use trucks.  On a 'long haul' from Auckland to Wellington a truck can deliver to various out of the way locations on the way. 
However, I still hope they're able to make KiwiRail successfull.
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