Thursday, 22 December 2011

That light at the end of the tunnel is sounding its horn

Now that the dust from the collapse of the Laboured Party has begun to clear and their new bright hope has been anointed, we can see a few things a little better.

One such thing is the brighter future Jianqi and his band of merry revellers offered us once they regained access to the slush fund – I mean treasury benches.

Education is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? At least it can be if you can actually get a decent one. The National Disgrace has given us a glimpse of what the brighter future they have in mind for education is.

Jianqi and I agree on one thing; our current education system is failing far too many people. However when it comes to fixing that system we clearly have a different idea about that. For example I wouldn’t have thought a positive way to fix the education system would be to appoint a disgraced school principal to a specialist advisory role with the Ministry of Education. I especially would not if that unprincipled principal had tried to cover up some naughty noodlings of her husband with an underage pupil and was still subject to disciplinary action. What sort of a lesson is that?

I also wouldn’t have thought it a great lesson for the then Education Minister Anne Folly to lie to media about it, either. But hey, the Ministry of Ed knows best and as they very cleverly explain it; Folly was asked if they had a suspended principal working in the role, but as Mrs Mutu had resigned from her role she wasn’t technically suspended at that time. I guess I just keep forgetting it’s a dynamic environment!

Charter schools are not something I would have put forward as a fix for our education system either. This is partly because until a couple of weeks ago I had not heard of charter schools. I suspect I am not alone in this and I am pretty sure that if we were to conduct a poll of every New Zealander who was eligible to vote at the last election we would find very few who had. I am equally sure almost none would have heard so much as a whisper of charter schools during the election campaign.

This raises a couple of questions: What is a charter school and why the secrecy?

In answer to the first of these, as far as I can tell a charter school (in the USA, anyway) is a school that is funded by both the state and possibly private funders. It does not have to adhere to the national curriculum, but cannot charge tuition fees as it is still a part of the state system. I don’t know how accurate that is, nor what is envisaged by Jianqi and Heck Yeah and Banquo, but I’m buggered if I can see what it would achieve. I have heard talk of it picking up the kids who fall through the cracks in the current system, but surely a re-jig of the current system and regional support services assisting the schools would be better. Why re-invent the wheel, especially if that wheel has had a habit of falling off wherever it has previously been fitted?

As for the secrecy; you can only conclude there is something about them they know we won’t like. They must have been afraid it would have made some of their voters nervous, because if it was such a whizz-bang great idea, why weren’t they boring us to death with it all through the election campaign?

It has also become blindingly clear that Jianqi and his government are hell-bent on passing legislation through OUR parliament to please other nations. A really creepy example of this is the NZ Food Bill.

I am working my way through the ramifications of this and I can tell you it is one helluva doorstop. So far I have picked up that ‘Food Safety Officers’ would be given the power of search without the need for a warrant and the Minister may adopt a joint food standard (for example aligning us with some other country’s regulations). There is a little waffle about him ‘being satisfied adequate consultation has taken place under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (Australia)’. However it could just as easily be rammed through during a holiday period or rushed through under urgency with the excuse it was ‘vital to trade.’ They’ve already tied us into Australia’s medicines legislation and I really don’t think we want to surrender any more of what little sovereignty we appear to have.

I also notice the Minister will be able to designate some standards for New Zealand only while others will link in with Australia’s. Now that should make things blindingly clear – having two different Acts to keep an eye on! I have yet to find any references to seeds as has been claimed by opponents of the Bill, but as I said it is a weighty tome and I’ve barely scraped it’s slimy sides. However it is quite apparent the intention is to regulate us a lot more and there could be some tricky issues surrounding the harmless bartering of goods with neighbours. In any event; I think this Bill has enough things wrong with it for it to be a worry and I urge everyone to sign the petition that is trying to stop it in its tracks. You can find more about the Bill at

And finally the brightest future appears to have been saved as usual by the National Disgrace Government for those in our society who are most vulnerable – and no I’m not talking about those struggling CEO’s like the one at Christchurch City Council.

I am of course talking about the children of the nation – those who come under the ‘care and protection’ of that wonderful generous and efficient organisation run by Paula Bumfat. This week we saw how much Bumfat cares as she faced the nation, upper lip trembling to try and explain how it wasn’t her fault or that of the wonderful people at CYFS that a 9-year-old Auckland girl was given a taste of Abu Ghraib in the Waitakeres.

And of course it wasn’t. We all know that a monster a.k.a. the child’s mother inflicted all the injuries and has been jailed this week for those acts. But what should have happened is that various individuals from the 25 agencies that had been dealing with this family since the child was a few months old should be sharing her cell for their abject failure to come to grips with what was plain for anyone to see.

Bumfat was blubbing about how ‘manipulative’ the woman and her partner were and wants us to believe they managed to cleverly pull the wool over the eyes of all the so-called experts and even the Minister herself.

That is just ten foot deep bullshit. Granted many of the social workers involved WOULD have been taken in; but not because the woman was so smart. How smart can an uneducated dropkick with a bunch of kids who have all been taken away from her at one time or another and who probably only has a vague notion of who fathered whom amongst those kids, be? Lets’ face it; she is another scumbag (probably from some sort of local Westie scumbag dynasty) that anyone other than a brain-dead CYFS employee would have sussed out in five minutes. The CYFS personnel aren’t all so stupid, though; some would have been only too aware of what was going on, but too hidebound by ridiculous internal procedures to do anything meaningful (or timely) about it. As for Bumfat, she like most useless Ministers would simply have seen what she wanted to see. The scummy beater should get some credit for asking for help (albeit the serious abuse was already occurring), but letters like that need to go to opposition spokespeople. Sitting ministers never do anything that might uncover a slip up on their watch.

It is unfortunate the new Parliament only sat for the one day and there wasn’t time for the opposition parties to make a meal of Bumfat’s situation. Hopefully they will get together and give her a hard time when they come back next year. And as for the lame report by former ombudsman Mel Smith; stupid shit like better communication between departments and better training are just fatuous school kid comments. The best way to sort that particular department out is to de-politicise the entire health and welfare sector. Only that way will they be able to get the workers focussing on needs rather than political agendas. Professional standards of conduct would need to be raised, so strong and focussed management would be needed to change the slack ‘civil service’ culture that exists today. Finally individuals (and that includes Ministers) would have to be accountable for their actions or lack of them.

So we have already seen a glimpse of this bright new future and I have to say it looks about as dim as those who voted for this lot must have been on November 26. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact Jianqi is still standing in that Egyptian river over asset sales. Let’s hope he doesn’t notice how quickly the waters are rising – until it’s too late.

Have a great Christmas everyone and recharge your batteries for the battering we are in for in 2012. Either that or the battering we will give the government. It’s your choice.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Just supposing.........

I’ve been watching with increasing concern as those responsible for the Rena disaster seem to be successfully dodging all the bullets. Furthermore they have amassed an enviable arsenal of their own which they have turned upon those already hurt by their negligence.

Costamare Inc and Daina Shipping have been able to limit their liability to an outrageous extent, due in part to the carelessness of our Government. I say carelessness, but this is a rather generous view for me to take as the more likely scenario is that if we were to probe the issue deeply we would find some kind of concession for some kind of politician ‘coincidentally’ occurred after we agreed to the ridiculous piece of legislation that allows liability for such ‘accidents’ to be limited

Of course there is far more than money at stake in cases such as this. Damage to the environment and the wildlife that live in it are beyond mere dollars. Once animals are dead, money can’t replace them and once an environment is polluted by oil the consequences can last for decades.

So no sooner had our environment been assaulted by what will undoubtedly be found to have been a grossly careless act than we felt the cold steel up us as we learned the ship’s owners would have their liability for damages limited to $12.1M, and WE the people who played absolutely no part whatsoever in the grounding of this ship would have to pay the rest. Now to most of us $12.1M sounds like a lot of money, but to put it into perspective consider these reports:

·         As at 17 October 2011  (just 12 days after the grounding) the costs of the clean-up had reached $4M (NZ Herald)

·         By 27 October the costs of the clean-up had risen to $10M (ODT)

·         As of December 7, then Transport minister Steven Joyce said the cost had risen to $19.5M (NZ Herald)

So as of a week ago the costs had already exceeded the owners’ liability limits by more than 50 percent and we already had to fork out $7.5M of our own money to fund the clean-up which won’t be over for many months yet.

Of course additionally a lot of businesses lost a fortune in revenue over this matter, too. Tourist operations, fishermen, and water sports enthusiasts have all suffered a great deal since Captain Pugwash crashed his tub onto Astrolabe Reef. Some have suffered fatal financial losses and have basically no comeback apart from a few empty promises made a couple of months ago by Ministers keen to get re-elected. Good luck there.

But the latest kick in the guts that delivered to New Zealanders over this sorry saga has been the ransom demands made by the salvors to those unfortunate enough to have cargo onboard. At first they sent out demands to every person with goods on the ship, including private individuals whose cargo was made up entirely of personal effects. Then following a bit of shouting from their customers they made a small tactical withdrawal. They claimed the letters had been sent to individuals in error and should only have been sent to those with commercial cargo on board. It sounds like classic ‘softening up’ tactics to me.

But in any event I can’t see a huge amount of difference here. Both private individuals and businesses have already paid for their goods to be delivered to them. So why should they have to pay for the cost of salvage? Effectively Svitzer is trying to extract payment from the owners of the goods rather than the owners of the ship.

Now some might say this is a non-issue and as most people have insurance they can leave it to their insurance company to sort out. But we all know what happens following a load of insurance claims; premiums go up so the insurance company can recoup its payout. But what on earth could anyone do about it? These massive corporations are too big for a fight by a little man and it would seem the insurance companies can’t be bothered arguing about it. Why would they when they can simply increase their premiums and carry on as normal? Let’s not forget who it was that crashed this tub. Costamare and the rest should be relying on THEIR insurance company for cover.

But what if.....what if somebody found a way to challenge these modern day pirates and mounted a test case against them? It would be expensive and the only way it could ever happen would be through the philanthropy of somebody who cares enough about justice and hates highway robbers.

I don’t know if there is someone or a group of people who would love to give these guys a fright – probably not, but it would be great. I have a theory that is untried, but just might be the path towards how one could unravel this mess.

Consider this; the shipping company entered into a contract with their customers to ship their goods to them. The contract wasn’t to sail them all the way to Tauranga Harbour and then leave them out on a reef. It was to deliver them to the port and then forward them via land based carriers to their destination. 

Failure to do this is surely a breach of contract? The usual effect of a breach of contract is to bring that contract to an end. When this happens the defaulting party is usually expected to pay some kind of compensation to the person whose goods they have failed to deliver. Normally this would involve replacement of the goods concerned and/or a full or partial refund of the freight costs.

So my contention is that the shipping company would have no right to recover the costs of salvage from the shippers because that is simply an incidental cost they have incurred through their own negligence. Negligence that furthermore could be said to go beyond the bounds of a simple accident given the criminal charges filed against the owners and the crew.

It might be a lengthy bow I’ve drawn, and I am sure that even if I’m right there is probably nobody with the funds or determination to take these guys on. But just supposing someone did; wouldn’t it be fantastic for the common man?

Monday, 5 December 2011

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

Well Jianqi has corralled his lambs and just about got his coalition organised. And when you think of it; coalition is a good name for it since it will be putting out a lot of heat and black smoke and it will bring tears to your eyes before very long.

So what is that blinding light on the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Of course not, you silly buggers; it’s that brighter new future we were promised so many times during the last month.

What’s that? You can’t see it? With all due respect, I think you need to take the blinkers off NOW, because Jianqi’s brighter future is here and just keeps getting brighter each day.

Take the economy for example (I wish someone would...). Is that bright or what? Treasury figures are just out on the country’s operating deficit for the four months to Oct 31, 2011. Treasury gave all us voters the low down on how this would work out six weeks ago and now we find they were absolutely...wrong. It was out by 4.1 percent, which doesn’t sound much, but considering this prediction was only made six weeks ago (and half-way through the period in question) it is not particularly bright.

They tell us it was down due to lower Crown revenue and a smaller tax and GST take. So the taxation policy is working well, then...NOT. They can hardly blame the economy on Labour now they’ve been in total control for the last three years!

Maybe we should check out the brighter health outlooks instead. I see National Disgrace is promising to provide even more elective surgery. Goodness me, that sounds great. Furthermore they have a goal of all patients booked for elective surgery to wait no more than four months. Wow – two months less than now. Or is it? Actually no. The whole waiting times issue is a load of lies and deceptions.

You see the current system ‘guarantees’ patients on the list will be seen in six months, but how can they guarantee this, you might ask? Easy, I answer. If they don’t think they can see you in six months; then you don’t get put on the list. This was exposed on National Radio’s Nine to Noon programme of 10 November 2011 where surgeons told Kathryn Ryan exactly how it works and why we have Charity Hospitals in Auckland, New Plymouth and Christchurch performing much needed varicose vein and hernia operations as well as many other surgeries for painful conditions that the DHBs are ignoring.

Okay then let’s look at the brighter future for jobs. That’s always one to get everyone excited. Jianqi tells us the abolition of the youth rates lost us 9000 jobs in one fell swoop. Let’s suspend judgment on that for a moment while we check out the Nats’ brighter future answer to this.

They are going to introduce what they have dubbed a ‘starting-out wage’ which apply to 16 and 17-year-olds beginning work and 18-19 year-olds who have just come off a designated benefit as well as 16-19 year-olds in training in certain recognised industry training courses. It will be equivalent to 80 percent of the minimum wage (wow $10.40 before tax -such generosity). For new young workers this will apply for the first six months with the same employer. Which means if for some reason their employer decided to toss them out after three months (and what is to stop him/her?) they have to start again with their next employer at $10.40 for another period of six months. You see after six months the employer is obliged to pay them the adult rate, so with an easy out at three months it is easy to see what will happen to many.

So what is really giving us a brighter future Jianqi? Certainly nothing in this lot. But perhaps it is your plan for asset sales ... er sorry ‘the mixed ownership model’? Now in the lead up to the election we were told the change to the ‘mixed ownership model’ would net us $7B. That sounds quite a tidy sum, but how did the Nats arrive at it? Well, unfortunately we don’t know because they muzzled treasury and the Ombudsman before the election. I can think of only one reason why they would do that, and it has nothing to do with ‘commercial sensitivity’. It is ‘political sensitivity’ because when you discover the whole concept has been built upon figures that don’t add up, it suddenly becomes a far more worrying matter than simply losing the income from these assets. After all that pain was supposed to bring gain. But realistically what sort of gain could it ever bring other than a very brief elation rather like when you sell your house and have a whole lot of money ....but nowhere to live, because you didn’t get as much as you thought for it.

I am the first to admit that my understanding of economics is rudimentary at best, although lately I have begun to realise I share this level of expertise with those in treasury who get paid far more than I could hope to earn. So at this point I should defer to those who actually work in the money market.

Auckland financial analyst Brent Sheather, and NZ Herald business columnist Brian Fallow have both laid out a very convincing analysis of the situation You can find details of their analysis at but in a nutshell Sheather says To get these asset sales, the Government will need to price the companies at price-earnings multiples of somewhere around 14 to 16 times, which implies after-tax earnings yields of 6 to 7 per cent. The 7% is the profits of the company after tax. So the company could pay out 4% as tax free profit, and re-invest the other 3% for more growth. Either way, that’s going to be nearly twice the 4% cost [of the borrowing option.]. Again, these sums indicate that ordinary New Zealanders stand to lose by selling down the assets.

 Both commentators seem to be of the opinion their views are pretty widely shared within the financial community, who is pulling Jianqi’s chain? And more to the point; where is this brighter future coming from?

Maybe it’s coming through the communication companies who are rolling out faster broadband ‘all over the country’. Wow! But wouldn’t it be better if all of us had decent cellphone coverage and television reception first? I mean how fast does broadband have to be? You can only type or click so fast.

Or maybe it’s coming from those nice mining companies. You know the ones. . These guys bring lots of work – they are the good guys. We’ve got a mining inspector so it’s okay. The companies are responsible people. It’s just that they don’t need all that health and safety nonsense because they employ real men, not cry-baby scaredy-cats who worry about being entombed in their workplace, or blown to smithereens.

But wouldn’t our future be so much brighter if everyone just stopped complaining about silly things such as child poverty child abuse, drunk drivers, lousy employers, a failed health system, dirty dairying, degraded environment and a failed education system and just got on with helping Jianqi to help us?

Yeah, right! I might as well toss my shades away for the next three years.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I don’t want us to be number one

Well congratulations to us. New Zealand has had shameful placings in so many world tables lately, such as child poverty, the gap between rich and poor and youth suicide statistics. But now we have the chance to be winners again – and so soon after the RWC too.

So what are we winning? Well I think we are in the running for several trophies at the moment.

First of all our government should win the award for the most cynically rigged election since the last fiasco in Russia where Vlad the Imputin arranged for his mate to caretake the Presidency while he slid into the PM’s chair for a term so he can then jump back into the seat his mate has kept warm for him until next year. The National Disgrace Party started the fiasco by hand-picking the candidates of their potential coalition partners to ensure they were all on the same page. What the book was, we can only speculate, but it will have had something to do with silencing dissenting views and enriching themselves at our expense.

Because of the fact we have no written constitution to fall back on it would seem the party in power can do whatever they like. For example they are able to choose the date of the election, which obviously means they can arrange for it to be held at a time that is convenient to them.

This year they were able to play an absolute blinder in that regard by beginning the campaign straight after the RWC. This meant the whole thing was rushed through while everyone was still enjoying the ABs’ win and were probably still a little light-headed. It also meant that policy releases could be timed to perfection; that is to say they could be released at the last possible moment so nobody had enough time to check them out properly before they had to cast their vote.  

Then Jianqi decided he was too important to debate the issues with anyone other than Phil Goshisthatthetime. Phil foolishly took his cue from Jianqi and said well I won’t if he won’t. Television for some unfathomable reason also decided to get onto that particular bandwagon and gave the two twats what they wanted instead of giving the public what they wanted; namely a debate between all the major party leaders. The channels should have invited all the major party members to the debates and made a point of ridiculing anyone too pussy to turn up.

But once again – our political system allows this sort of nonsense, where candidates like STP (Simon the Pixie) and Toenail Vile can refuse to front candidates meetings in their own electorates and instead hold their own little bullshit fests with all the party faithful cuddled up close and cosy. Dissenting views are not what these people want at THEIR meetings. Heavens above if you allowed that, the entire fabric of their smug and selfish society would unravel and some of that poor underclass might turn up and stink the place out.

Then of course there was the teapot saga where Jianqi mobilised the force of the law to gag the press, sent the solicitor-general to ‘guide’ the High Court and goodness only knows what or who was sent to ‘advise’ the Ombudsman that his role has now changed overnight to that of Protector-of-things-the-government-doesn’t-want-you-to- know.

As you might have guessed our other table topping achievements also spring from this so-called election. The first of these is the neutered state of our press. In 2009 the freedom of our press was judged to be one of the best in the entire world. The annual international survey by Freedom House ranked our press freedom at a score of 14 where 1 is the top and 100 the bottom. The highest ranking in that survey was 10 shared by (not surprisingly) Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Only nine nations did better than us in that survey. We beat countries such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and USA. But that was before the Samovar incident. It was bad enough for Jianqi to threaten and intimidate our press over that matter, but it was far worse that they listened to him. What a bunch of nutless wonders. They just rolled over like big pussies to have their tummies rubbed instead of scratching the little shit’s face. November 2011 – the day the NZ Press committed sideways.

Finally the biggest trophy we will probably cart off will be decided this Saturday November 26. If my guess is right and so is the government we elect, then we will qualify for the dumbest nation on the planet.

Jianqi was publicly caught out in the following lies:

Standard & Poors have said they will downgrade our credit rating if there is a change of government

I didn’t lie about GST or Kiwisaver – it’s a dynamic environment

I can’t recall what was said in my meeting with John Banks followed by There’s nothing on that tape that is important and then It’s nothing to do with me what the police do (about the tape)

I have treasury advice that we can keep the asset shares in Kiwi hands

We have no plans to hold back on police recruiting

If the country returns this slimeball and his ragtag bag of greedies to the treasury benches then it rightly deserves the title of the most stupid nation in the world.

I can only hope that Kiwis wake up and the NZ press discover they only suffered severe bruising and still actually have everything intact and lift their game to ensure his ride is a very brief and bumpy one.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chumps’ tea party

Long before this election began I expressed the view that (sadly) there was probably only one way Jianqi could lose this election; and that would be if a really bad scandal erupted at a critical stage of the game.

The teapot tape might just be that, er smoking teapot. It is amazing to think a cup of cha could have such a potentially explosive charge. In fact, given the way Jianqi and Banksia have reacted I am more interested in what might have been in that teapot than what is on the tape. After all the tape is perfectly innocent, isn’t it? I mean it must be because His Right Honourable Prime Ministership said so. (Cue Tui sign)

There are many questions arising from this affair and not all of them will be answered by us hearing the tape. One that immediately springs to mind is, what is the offence Jianqi alleges has occurred here? It is clear there is nothing in the Privacy Act that could actually relate to this and in any case, that Act is administered by the Privacy Commissioner, not the Police Commissioner. So what piece of legislation is our toady little Prime Munter using for this?

My guess is the wanker is trying to drag something out from the National Disgrace’s considerable war chest of hastily passed legislation dealing with public order or National (geddit) security. Don’t forget an awful lot of flustering went on following 9/11 when ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation was shoved through at breakneck pace and further ‘amendments’ were whipped through following the Christchurch earthquake under the guise of ‘public order’ so it could be something from here.

I also thought it was interesting, nay damned troubling that police saw fit to deliver a warning to people not to publish. I don’t believe they are in a position to do this because I don’t believe there is a legal justification for it. But what troubles me more is why are they leaping to the defence of the PM and making an unnecessary and some would say, reckless and stupid statement about the legal position. Clearly little Jianqi has pulled rank and asked (read demanded) his big bully-boy mates come and support him and let everyone else know they’ll get the bash if they step out of line.   

But whatever he is trying to do, it seems an awful lot of trouble to go to for a ‘principle’. In any case I’d have thought principles and politicians did not belong on the same page never mind the same sentence. As I told Granny Herald this week, in an effort to encourage them to publish the bloody thing; why hold back on ethical grounds? That’s hardly a quality one could associate with Jianqi or Banksia – especially if, as I suspect they were running down old Duffer Dong and planning a coup de space. (That’s where one space cadet replaces another).

Clearly summat is afoot and someone is a liar. I sincerely hope we get to find out whom – BEFORE November 26!

As for the cameraman who allegedly accidentally left his recorder on, I have to say it is entirely plausible. I say this because I have done exactly the same thing on a number of occasions. What happens sometimes is you are interviewing somebody and you have to interrupt to take a picture of someone else because they are about to leave and it is very easy in the heat of the moment to leave the thing on. Several times I have been and done an interview and left and when I got back to the office found that the last 20 minutes of my tape are the sounds of me cursing at other motorists on my way home. It is much easier to do than most people would realise, especially when you are being rushed along by deadlines.

But to get back to my original point; this just might be the turning point in this election. At this late stage I would doubt it could completely sink the Nats, but it could certainly cut into their vote enough to make things really interesting. It might just expose the ACTors for the bit part players and pantomime dames they really are and sink them without a trace.

I don’t think little prissy Jianqi has a leg to stand on as far as obtaining any sort of prosecution over this, but I have urged TV3 and Granny Herald, and I urge all of you to urge them, to publish without delay, because if they don’t Banksia and Jianqi could seek injunctions to tie their hands. Then they could well face prosecution if they publish.

So carpe diem, Herald and TV3 and anyone else who knows what’s on that tape. It might be nothing, but then I might be two metres tall and the next All Black captain! We certainly can’t believe anything our incumbent Prime Munter says because he continually lies like a bloody flatfish. Oops sorry it’s not telling lies is it? We’re in a dynamic environment. Where is that dynamite when I need it?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Owed (Ode) to Tauranga

The Bay of Plenty in general and Tauranga in particular is a great place to live. I love living here and hope to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. But sometimes I wonder if I will want to.......

You see the problem is that many factors and fuckwits are conspiring to ruin everything good about the place.

For anyone who has not had the pleasure of living here, here are some of the benefits of living in Tauranga.

1.      The weather is possibly the best in the country taking into account all of the seasons. Every year Tauranga is in the top three towns in NZ for sunshine hours. That alone is a damned good reason to live here. Frosts are as rare as hens’ teeth and our rain usually has the good grace to get itself over and done with by falling on about a third of the days in each month.

2.      The cost of living is much lower than Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, despite being New Zealand’s fourth or fifth largest metropolitan area. If you include Western Bay of Plenty District, the total population is in excess of 150,000 yet you still have a kind of’ village’ atmosphere where people who don’t even know you smile at you in the street and pass the time of day like people do in small rural towns.

3.      There are excellent white sand beaches, mountains, forests, and excellent soil for growing produce.

4.      A great range of organic and biodynamic food is available and very often grown locally.

5.      There is an amazing community of outrageously talented artists musicians and creative types, most of whom do not carry the airs and graces and general ‘up-themselvesness’ of their equivalents in places like Auckland. (Sorry Aucklanders, but after 18 years spent living there I feel well qualified on that one).

6.      Traffic is not a huge problem with the rush hours being more like rush quarter hours and often much less. The drivers are just as bad as anywhere else though, although not as bad as they were here 20 years ago when the town had a huge elderly bias.

7.      The town and country are so near to one another. You can drive ten or fifteen minutes from the CBD in any direction and be surrounded by farms and bush.

8.      If you get a hankering to go elsewhere, Rotorua, Hamilton and Whakatane are all with an hour to an hour and a half’s drive, Auckland is just two and a half hours away (but why would you go there?) and you can be on the Coromandel Peninsular in an hour and a half or in Taupo in two.

I’ve probably forgotten a whole lot more good reasons, but that is enough to be getting on with.

So who and what are all these factors and fuckwits running this paradise?

The answers to most of the world’s problems can usually be found by ‘following the money’ and I think Tauranga is a classic case of this.

We have (not me I hasten to add) elected at least two consecutive councils that have done Tauranga no favours at all. Led both times by (Getusintoa) Stu Crosby; a man with a strong business profile in Tauranga through his family business – a holiday park.

Now a man with a foot firmly planted in the tourism camp might sound like an ideal Mayor for Tauranga, but unfortunately Getusintoa is an empire builder like so many politicians. He sees himself as the key man in the area and has already made noises about a BOP ‘supercity’, no doubt with himself as Lord Mayor. He is surrounded by a council of mostly like-minded individuals they appear to want to make Tauranga like the Auckland of the BOP. You can see it in the way they have built their newer roads and in their eagerness to build toll roads (just like Big Bro up North). This type of thinking has led them to the immovable notion that Tauranga needs millions of ratepayer dollars spent on a museum of some kind, rather than cleaning up the waterways and upgrading the general infrastructure of the town. Ultimately if such plans are allowed to progress Tauranga will begin to look so much like Auckland that you will need a GPS reading to confirm your location. Of course your rates will have risen dramatically to try and keep pace with Auckland as well.

Of course along with such ambition comes the need for more business, more people more cars, more roads, more mayhem! The ten or fifteen minute drive to the countryside will become an hour due to increased traffic and also because so much of the rural land near to town will have been developed into ghastly housing subdivisions with names like The Lakes (I know it’s there already), The Ponds that all look the bloody same and a GPS will be necessary to navigate your way home from work if you want to positively identify your own house and section.

Along with bigger business comes a larger domination by the big players and this will be most obvious in the case of the food available locally. If the supermarkets continue with their current policies of stocking almost no organic or biodynamic produce, then these will become increasingly difficult to source as more and more big ‘food’ barns squeeze out the smaller operators currently supplying a good range of these foods.

Another factor working against the great food is the Kiwifruit industry which most people think of as a benefit to the region. My take on that is that it is and it isn’t. It is great that kiwifruit grow here and I love kiwifruit, but what is not great is that most of that fruit is grown with the use of nasty agri-chemicals. The sprays and other nasties used by these growers have caused heaps of health and other problems in the area and unfortunately the discovery of PSA just makes this worse. The kiwifruit industry is so hooked on chems that every time they get a wee problem (or a large one) they reach for the chemicals. Of course the whole process becomes like the old lady who swallowed a fly. So look out for many more nasty chems and antibiotics on your supermarket kiwifruit in future.

Unfortunately Tauranga doesn’t seem to be that interested in supporting local live music at the moment. Fewer and fewer live venues are providing regular opportunities to hear good ORIGINAL local bands.

So that has pretty well starts to demolish reasons 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of my eight key reasons for living here.

The Rena has given us what should be a big wake- up call over our beautiful beaches. But Jezza ‘Billy Bunter’ Browneye still wants to drill for oil out here and I would be very surprised if this council did not also support that idea. So there goes that particular neighbourhood along with reason 3 for living in Tauranga.
Hopefully reason 1 (the weather) is beyond the reach of these metropolitan and national vandals. But if the cowshit does hit the fan I will be pleased that reason 8 exists and I can scarper elsewhere (albeit a little more slowly due to the increased urbanisation).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Campaign launch a bit of a fizzer

The campaign is supposedly under way for the 2011 General Election. But so far it seems this election is going to need some agriva or garvia or whatever other anagram they are using this week because it has had a dreadfully limp start.

I see Granny Herald is referring to the debate on TV1 on Monday night in far more glowing terms than it deserves. Leaders' debate's fiery exchange was the breathless headline on the Herald website on Tuesday morning. I’ve seen more fire in a dead matchstick.

Yes there were some tetchy exchanges, but overall the show was an enormous waste of time. Almost no policy was laid out aside from the short sound-bite type stuff they have been trotting out for the last couple of days anyway. There wasn’t a shred of solid policy from either of the two wastes of space who were extraordinarily given this platform to themselves.

TVNZ needs a thrashing for putting up such a pathetic excuse for an election debate. Guyon Espiner tried his best, under what I believe were circumstances beyond his control. Whoever decided in their ‘wisdom’ we needed a debate between these two no-hopers on their own needs shooting. Where have these idiots been since 1996? We have had MMP for 15 years now and the whole idea of the system is that we recognise the existence of and the need for more than two parties. It may also have escaped their notice, but every single government since that first MMP election has needed to be formed from a coalition of the biggest polling party plus one or more other smaller ones. Given that scenario I would have thought the views of those minor parties are every bit as important as those of the two largest ones because elements of them will have to be agreed to by the Government of the day in order to secure a working majority in Parliament.

Like many Kiwis, I hadn’t thought too much about the general elimption over the last couple of months (while the really serious business was going on). As a result I had no advance warning of the mighty election campaign coverage planned by TV1. So you can imagine my surprise when after picking myself up off the floor from realising TV1’s opener was a debate between Jiangqi and Phil Goshisthatthetime, I began to find out what other treats they had in store.

Well maybe like me, you haven’t got around to checking yet. But I can save you the time, because there appears to be nothing. At least nothing further this week. So the entire TVNZ contribution to the first week of the election campaign is one pathetic debate between the two twits who think they should be Prime Minister, neither of whom will be able to govern without the support of one or more other parties?

I’ve actually found the coverage on maori TV much better, but then they are only covering the Maori electorates, so it is a little limited in that way. You will notice I am not mentioning any election type programmes that might crop up on TV7 because there is still a sizeable number of people who can’t get that and an even larger number who won’t for much longer if Jiangqi and his motley crew have their way.

So what about the thing billed as a debate? Well the only worthwhile thing to come out of it was that Phil Goshisthatthetime (quite rightly) called Jiangqi a liar. I see that as worthwhile because the incumbent PM's response was worth seeing. “I am not a liar,” he squeaked, tears welling up in his little piggy eyes. “I don’t call you a liar and that’s actually because I respect the office of the leader of the opposition,” he blubbed. From which I can conclude it is all about respecting offices rather than the truth. As PG pointed out, Little Johnny told the nation before the last election he would not raise GST and then he did. Jianqi of course tried to be semantically pedantic insisting that he had said in 2008 he would not raise GST to try and balance the books. He then argued he had not done this because with the tax cuts his GST rise had been ‘fiscally neutral’. This of course immediately raises the question of why one would do it if it was to be of no effect. Labour has raised this before with him, but I don’t ever remember hearing an answer that made any sense.

I notice the fallout from the ‘debate’ (it was more like a mass one if you ask me), is all about little Johnny blubbing about Goshisthatthetime calling him a liar. And this from the man who lied to Parliament about Standard & Poors’ plans only a couple of weeks ago and got caught out in a fabulous press conference which you can view at

It should be shared with as many people as possible because they need to see the body language and enjoy the thrashing about of a man caught out big time in a big lie. A lie – lest we forget, that was designed to win votes from frightened voters who might have been tempted to believe him.

Meanwhile the other six or more parties who actually have a chance of being part of the next government are left to have to make programmes of their own on the Internet as the Greens did. And worthy attempt though that one was; it doesn’t really do a lot when it is simply a platform for the leaders of the party to get some policy out there via some sympathetic questioning from Finlay McDonald. They needed to be having a debate with the other party leaders to do much of a service to the NZ voter.

I think it is time we had some major reforms in our parliamentary system. Too much is left to the whims of those in power to decide. Election dates should be set in stone. Big stones that are too heavy for politicians to turn over (or crawl out from under). Likewise at least one leaders’ debate per week should be should be mandatory for the last three or four weeks of the campaign. Participation in these should be mandatory for every leader of a party that has an MP or who polled close to the threshold at the last election. Any wimps, prima donnas, or pussies who don’t want to debate with the other leaders get no other airtime at all. It’s time to make these bastards accountable. Who do they think they are to tell US who they will and won’t debate with? WE pay their over-inflated wages, even if we don’t have any control over how over-inflated they are.

Now if we were to move the election forward three weeks................we’d certainly have a good choice of ‘Guys’.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Making indicatives of ourselves

Okay it’s started and we are about to be bombarded with promises of things that will never be, by people who can make them safe in the knowledge they will probably never be elected. Things will get really heated with the usual name-calling reaching fever pitch and the current incumbents throwing out lollies to the huddled masses while claiming credit for every positive thing that has occurred in NZ in the last three years and shifting blame for every negative one to the opposition.

The more observant of you will have already noticed a number of ‘windfalls’ coming the way of various communities and Government Departments. Here are just a few from the last two months:

·         Health Minister Tony Ryall announces Whakatane Hospital has a new six-station satellite renal unit– September

·         Transport minister Steven Joyce says $55M Welcome Bay underpass could begin within the next three years- September

·         The Bay of Plenty is getting 12 new police recruits. - October

·         Education Minister Anne Tolley announces four Tauranga schools have ultra-fast broadband as part of the government’s rollout.– October

·         Environment Minister Nick Smith announces $15.2 million to clean up Te Aroha’s Tui Mine – October

·         Health Minister Tony Ryall announces $10 million into the health and justice system to combat drug and alcohol abuse – October

In addition to these sorts of ‘conveniently timed’ announcements there has been a welter of ‘good news’ stories. Many of these have appeared in papers and on news sites that make no attempt to question any of the apparent inconsistencies in them.

For example we learned earlier this month that crime in the Bay of Plenty and wider New Zealand had dropped and that within those figures murders had dropped. Sexual assaults and child abuse had increased but Western BOP Area Commander Mike Clement was allowed to explain that rise away by blaming it on increased reporting. He was not asked if the drop in other offences might have been down to decreased reporting. After all, many people can’t be bothered reporting smaller thefts and less serious assaults because it takes so long to get a police response and then the courts simply let the offenders off, rather like the local press did with Mike Clement.

In the midst of all this is a sneaky referendum about the voting system. I say sneaky because we will be asked two questions at the same time; do we want MMP to continue and which of the other four systems we would choose IF New Zealand decides to change. There are many things about this referendum that concern me. First it is now only four weeks until the election and there has been a zero information campaign to explain to the general public what the various other options entail. Then we will be asked to second guess the result of question 1 and choose another system ‘in case’ the majority vote MMP out. You can, however simply vote in the first part and ignore the second, and it would be interesting if everybody did that.

However what worries me more is that if more than 50 percent of us choose to keep MMP there will be a review to recommend changes to it. But it appears our input will not be required at that stage as we are obviously not smart enough to look at such things that parliament has previously decided including the thresholds to be eligible for a share of list seats, whether voters should can change the order of candidates on a party list and whether candidates can continue to have a bob each way and stand in both an electorate and on the party list. The Electoral Commission will have that job and it’s a fair bet they will give the Government of the day whatever they want. Although their brief does not include considering the size of Parliament, which is what many people are upset about, and they won’t consider the issue of Maori representation, they will be able to consider any other aspects of MMP they choose to.

If more than 50 percent of us choose to chuck MMP out, there will be another referendum in 2014 (this time a two-horse race) to run MMP off against whatever most people chose as the preferred option in part two of the poll this year.

But probably the most alarming thing about all these referenda is they are merely indicative referenda. Government does not have to take any notice of them if they so choose. It is merely an indicative referendum.
Wanna play democracy anyone?
Only if I can win!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Place your bets

I’m not usually a betting man, apart from my weekly Lotto ticket. And even that should be called a donation rather than a gamble, because up to this point it seems to be an entirely one-way street; I buy a ticket and am lucky if even one of my numbers comes up. The result is of course a donation to the Lotteries Commission. I don’t know why I don’t just set up an automatic payment and save the time of purchasing the ticket, as well as the weekly disappointment around 8pm each Saturday.

However this week, I am fired up with a few tips I have and think I should at least share some of these ‘sure things’ with those of you kind and patient enough to be reading these ramblings.

Now I should preface this with the advisory that you might not be able to get terribly good odds on some of these tips at the TAB. In fact some you might not be able to get any odds at all, unless you count the odd looks you get when you ask to place a bet on them. However, I believe life is for living and who cares what the boring people think? Life is for living and having fun.

My first tips are for the Rugby World Cup 2011:

1.      New Zealand will win the cup and I believe they will do better than the 1987 team. To do this they need to win by 21 or more points. At the time of writing this was a fairly good bet considering the All Blacks’ dominance at $3.30.

2.      Wales will beat Australia in the third and fourth place final. I think it will be fairly close which is a shame because if they win by 13 or more they will pay $6, whereas at under 13 they are paying $3.20

3.      The Rugby World Cup 2015 will be a very different beast to the 2011 one. Look out for changes to the turnaround time during pool play and a change at the top of the IRB.

4.      My long shot bet here would be the SANZAR countries, Argentina and the Pacific Islands leading a breakaway movement that will see the entire cup re-jigged and something like the mess that happened with the Packer circus emerging as the IRB lick their wounds in the aftermath of 2011.

My next bets centre on the Rena or RENA as I prefer to think of her (Really Environmentally Nasty Atrocity).

1.      The ship will break up before all the oil has been removed. I know that is hardly Nostradamus territory, but I just thought I should record it since so many with a vested interest in happy outcomes prior to a general election keep defending the inactivity of Maritime NZ and making out they have taken the best approach, which clearly they have not.

2.      The effects on wildlife in the Bay of Plenty will be measured in months at the very least, and quite conceivably in years. This is NOT a five minute wonder.

3.      The Rena skipper and his 2IC will get a pissy fine of a few thousand measly dollars that will disappear into that black whole known as the Consolidated Fund. Once the sentence has been passed the offenders will be smartly repatriated to their homelands before you can say oil slick.

4.      We, the taxpayers, and especially those of us unfortunate enough to be Tauranga ratepayers will be stumping up several times over to cover the full costs of this disaster.

5.      If re-elected, (see political predictions below) the National Disgrace Party will cite this disaster as a reason for their continued financial mismanagement.

And then there are the really political tips.

1.      National Disgrace will pitch themselves as saviours of the nation in the final run-up to the election, citing their ‘magnificent handling of the Pike River Mining Disaster 2010, the Christchurch shake festival 2010/11, and the Rena Obscener fiasco’ as examples of their ‘steady hands on the tiller – as opposed to sticky hands in the till, which is probably nearer the truth as more dodgy contracts emerge from the rubble of Christchurch. They will also claim credit for winning the RWC and say nothing about their mismanagement of the event.

2.      New Winston First will trip over their shoelaces at the start of the race and quite possibly (we live in hope), never be heard of again.

3.      The Ancient Codgers Together Party are so old with a collective age, I believe of about 98 that they might well have a couple fall off the perch before the election is over.

4.      Despite Hatfield making a lot of noise and insulting as many people as he can in a bid to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most obnoxious arsehole in the most pointless party in the world, they will be lucky to retain any of their deposits. That’s always providing they stump them up in the first place. Don’t laugh; they managed to get a member (and that’s a good name for him) into the wasp nest without even being properly registered, so anything is possible. However if and when they do come up with nada, expect Shonkey to spit the dummy big time and accuse all and sundry of electoral malpractices.

5.      Finally – unless the National Disgrace gets caught in a major scandal (and it would probably need to be something as bad as an active kiddie porn ring in their caucus), they will unfortunately win the election and we will have to live with the mantra: Three more years.

All of the above are to a greater or lesser extent, risky bets, but I do have one dead cert for you; Muammar Gaddafi.