Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shadow Cabinet boxing

As a thought experiment, I had a go at listing a possible Labour Shadow Cabinet. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Partly due to the culling of Labour's new talent from the election axe, but mainly because there's more dead wood in Labour's caucus than in the Takapuna Reef Fossil Forest:
  1. David Shearer - Leader of the Opposition, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Education.
  2. Jacinda Adern - Deputy, spokesperson for Welfare.
  3. David Parker - Finance.
  4. David Cunliffe - Economic Development & Commerce.
  5. Grant Robertson - Health.
  6. Maryan Street - Senior Whip.
  7. Charles Chauvel - Justice & Police.
  8. Shane Jones - Infrastructure & Christchurch Recovery.
  9. Chris Hipkins - Junior Whip.
  10. Trevor Mallard - Leader of the House, Energy.
  11. Phil Twyford - Transport, Corrections.
  12. Nanaia Mahuta - Maori Affairs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting for The Fucker

Phil Goff and Annette King have announced their resignations. Well done, thou good and faithful servants of the Labour Party. Labour's decimated caucus has a fortnight to sort out a new leader. Phil Goff's done his successor less harm than Helen Clark's election night dump did for him. But not by much. Perhaps it's time for the H1H2 neophytes to have a swig from the poisoned chalice of the Labour Party leadership too.

It seems from the chatter that it's between Cunliffe/Mahuta vs Parker/ Robertson. Cunliffe's earlier running partner of Dalziel was dropped for the marginally less bizarre choice of Nanaia Mahuta. Strange bedfellows are mentioned elsewhere. Caretaker leader it is then, and so sez Gordon Campbell:
Given that the achievable goal this term may be only to get Labour back within striking distance of National, it will probably be the next leader after this one who gets to form the next Labour-led government. That’s how it worked out for National in its own climb back from defeat in 2002. (Bill English was succeeded by Don Brash, before Key finally did the trick.) Seen in that light, this may be quite a good contest to lose.

On a completely different subject, I can't wait for the next series of The Thick of It. BrickTop from Guy Ritchie's Snatch aka Alan Ford plays the new LibDem spinner. Here's The Fucker firing Tory PR twat Stewart Pearson in the finale of last season's cliffhanger:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Citizens for Rolling

Some advice for Labour; if you want another caretaker/stunt puppet leader to lose the next election, choose Cunliffe or Parker tomorrow. If you want a proper challenger, korero now, change in February.

In spite of Michael Appleby all but crowning Grant Robertson a Labour leader in waiting at the Aro Valley Candidates gig, it's way too soon for him to seek the top of that greasy pole. I haven't met David Shearer, but he can't have less popular appeal than Cunliffe or Parker. The latter two failed their 7 Days test and need to re-sit and do better.

Fortune favours Shearer on many fronts, not least his UN internment. Logistical know-how goes a long way in politics.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sound of Silver

The 2011 election result officially salutes the continuing rise of the gerontocracy. How else could an old stick in the mud like Winston Peters get 8 MPs? Expect to see more spending cuts across the board under Key 2.0, with the exception of the self-interested silver vote. Their loudmouth champion is back in the House.

Dying away? Yeah right, John.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Election 2011 live blog

7:45 pm. Just arrived at Back Benches. Quarter hour before filming starts, emergency red wine and cigarette in the smoking lounge. The Sports Bar has been closed off for the Nat's Wellington Central party.

4 percent of the result counted. NZ First at scary 6-7 percent, Greens at reasonable 10 percent (I'm betting they'll get 15 percent). Labour nearing National's 2002 election result with a not unsurprising 27 percent. National hovering on 50 percent. Once the expected overhangs are accounted for, it looks like Key won't get his natural majority.

UPDATE: 10:15pm. A lot can happen in a couple of hours. Now ensconced at the Green Party's campaign party at San Francisco Bath House. The place is packed with supporters, even though their vote seems to have levelled off at ten percent, a few short of where I expected them to be.

NZ First still sitting on an unbelievable 6.8 percent, the damage done by John Key's failed tea date has led to a resurgent NZ First and 8 possible MPs. Act is toast, with only John Banks holding Epsom and a slim party vote ensuring he will be their only MP. Dunne looks like keeping Ohariu, albeit with a reduced majority.

It looks like Clayton Cosgrove has lost the Waimakariri seat to Kate Wilkinson, while Kris Faafoi holds his seat against Hekia Parata in Mana. Christchurch Central will probably be so narrow as to go down to Special Votes between Brendon Burns and Nicky Wagner.

Ian Lees-Galloway and Chris Hipkins are shoo-ins for Palmerston North and Rimutaka respectively. National couldn't dent them there.

Shooting the Pook

"Yes I've voted" sez the orange man sticker on my desk. In light of the 7pm embargo on polspeak, let me entertain you with a true story coaxed out of the memory banks before the live-blogging begins. Shooting the Pook is Part Two of the Hunter Chronicles. Part One here.

This particular story is inspired by the Pook winning this year's Bird of the Year Award, and partly due to the latest iteration of George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant doing the rounds.


The old man must have set some kind of record for killing things in this country. Long before he worked the chain at the Longburn freezing works, he spent most of his spare youth in the hills shooting a wide variety of animals. Deer were his favourite target. Ducks were probably second. If deer was an epicurean kill and ducks the next skill tier down, rabbits were the equivalent of fast food.

Most days the .22 would lie in the car. Sometimes in the boot but, if he hadn't killed anything that day and there was a spare hour of light on the hills, the rifle would be within arm's reach of the driver's seat. The glovebox was always full of shotgun cartridges, the ashtrays full of live .22 rounds. I had orders to keep an eye out for rabbits as we travelled the back roads on the scenic route home.

"Wind down your window," he'd say as he put the magazine into the rifle and pulled back the bolt. The barrel would slide past my nose and out my window, aimed at the grassy knoll where a rabbit was having its last supper.

I learnt early on I could not be a doctor. I never got used to the smell of intestines. He'd bury the guts in the back yard under stones, so the dogs wouldn't dig them up. In with the dead cats with a bullet behind their ear, which he'd shot with the .22 from his bedroom window. There were strays living under the house, he insisted. Even after a Lost and Found report on the Palmy radio station matched the description and location of one such trespassing feline now pushing up stones.

My father had experimented with a kiwifruit farm out Te Puna way, west of Tauranga. It had what an environmentalist might consider a wildlife sanctuary, but what my father saw as a killing field. Ponds and gullies aplenty for the countless pheasants and California Quail who added their fates in with any ducks and rabbits. The poacher could stay home and shoot away to his heart's content. No need for stealthy racetrack rabbit hunts or Centennial Lagoon Duck massacres now.

It was no surprise that firearms were involved in my father's idea of a manhood ritual. One summer, the old man decided it was time for me to make my first kill. I had shot slug rifles at targets since I can remember, but shotguns were another step up entirely. It was time for my first .410 lesson. If I passed this exam, one day I might even get to use the .308, like my brother could.

My brother had been converted to marksmanship some years ago, and he accompanied Dad and me to the swamplands behind the caravans where we lived. No honourable ducks were at risk from this folly. The rabbits, quail and pheasant were too twitchy for a novice. Even the lowly Miner birds were considered too quick-witted for my first slaughter. I was going to shoot a pook.

Pooks were the very bottom of the skill tier. Strutting swamp hens, they only manage to get airborne from an ungainly waddling take-off. Most of the time they just stand like sitting ducks. They were generally left alone as they tasted much like the swamp crap they ate, but for the purposes of the ritual, this bird would suffice as the sacrifice.

We were downwind from the swamp as we approached its edge. It didn't take long for a pook to come into range. We lay prone on the grass and the old man signalled for me to pull the hammer of the gun back. I did so, closed my left eye and put a bead on the mired blue bird.

I lay there and nothing happened. The pook eventually meandered away and out of clear shot. I couldn't pull the trigger. At least, I knew I wouldn't. It was time to face the wrath of Dad and tell him that I couldn't shoot the pook. I wasn't expecting the punishment, which seemed to consist of never being invited to shoot anything again, which suited me just fine.

A few days after this manhood fail, when no-one was at the farm, I took the .410 and my brother's gun dog Rommel and went back to the swamp. Rommel managed to flush a pook out of the gorse bushes and I winged it as it tried to flee. It sat high up in the bushes squarking in pain. I sent the dog in to retrieve it, but he came back puffed but empty.

I shot at the pook again, but that seemed to make it worse. The branches were blocking a clear shot. I walked back to the caravan. It didn't take long until the shrieks were out of earshot.


And now, here is a photo of some black swans on Wharemauku Pond, a peaceful sanctuary favoured by ducks, pooks and swans alike:

Friday, November 25, 2011

If you don't vote, the vanilla people win

I've been mulling some witty verse to encourage people to vote tomorrow. Jitterati toonist Grant Buist has saved me a sore brain and done an Election Alphabet:

A is for Apathy, born of disdain,
B is for Bullies, who win through our pain.
C is for Children, to stick with our bills,
D is for Democracy, with attendant ills.
E is for Economy, sunk like a stone,
F is for Fear, of a future unknown.
G is for Goff, and his dismal demeanour,
H is for Hollow Men, meaner and meaner.
I is for Income, the median dropping,
J is for Jobs, which are ripe for the chopping.
K is for Key, the dead-eyed ex-trader,
L is for Labour, approaching their nadir.
M is for Map, to help Labour find its ass,
N is for National’s inertial mass.
O is for Outrage, at poor single mothers,
P is for Poverty, swept under the covers.
Q is for Questions, of asset sale sense,
R is for Recovery, at any expense.
S is for Smile-and-wave until you’re bored,
T is for Tax cuts we couldn’t afford.
U is for Unemployment, the gravest of sins,
V is for Vote, so the right lizard wins.
W is for Wage gap, increasing with Oz,
X is for Xenophobia, our charming faux pas
Y is for Yearning, for a future less fraught
Z is for Zzz. Sleep now, critical thought.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I see your nuked fridge and raise you a kitchen sink

As far as the MSM Election Orgasmatron goes, the Tea Tapes look to beat Key's "Show Me the Money" couch jumping to win the 2011 Defining Moment of the Match Award. And fair go too. If Key can escalate a plastic photo op into a legal battle over media freedom, thank Dagg he's not holding a nuclear suitcase or a Suez Canal crisis meeting. We'd all be in internment camps or dead or something.

But for me, the defining moment of the election campaign was what Act's Mana candidate blurted before his meltdown:

"My best mate moved to California and works as a cameraman. My sister's moving to Brisbane next week."

Wave goodbye to your future, NZ. This isn't a diaspora, it's desertion in the face of insurmountable odds on the home front. In all the candidates meetings on the campaign trail, I never heard anyone mention how to truly grow the jobs in New Zealand. The Greens were the closest with their "Green Jobs" initiative, which still seems as plausible a scheme as Canada's internet money scheme from South Park.

Labour talked up apprenticeships, but training's not really an issue. NZ has not just unemployment but also massive underemployment. We are shit human resource managers. There are taxi drivers with PhDs, overseas doctors working as Star Mart operators. Rod Oram spoke on this idiocy a couple of weeks ago on NatRad.

I declare that all parties lack the Vision Thing on economic recovery. All these mumbo-jumbo election promises are pointless when you factor in those dark brooding clouds in Europe, China and the US. 2012 is going to be a cunt, and all we've got to choose from is pussy soundbites.

That said, my party vote's going to the Green Party for the first time ever this election. There are lots of reasons behind that decison, but the three main ones are:

1. There needs to be an effective brake pad on National's use of urgency. I do not trust National to slow down their record of urgency motions. Labour don't cut it either. I trust the Greens to fulfil that function.

2. I want Mojo Mathers to be NZ's first Deaf MP. I hope she has an NZSL interpreter for her maiden speech. The vanilla people will have to get used to that mesmeric waiata some time.

3. After twelve years of being Labour's bitch, the Greens deserve a fair suck of the sav.

My electorate vote is going to ALCP's Richard Goode, because he deserves it, and Kris Faafoi needs to learn a lesson. ALCP are the only party campaigning on a "Grow the Economy" policy too. Hemp for Victory!

As for the referendum, I'll be voting to keep MMP. The alternative choice will be STV, insurance in case of improbable defeat. The FPP and SM vote will lickety-split the vote into meaninglessness.

Book seized, DVD still at large

Story here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Freeview ready for planned obsolescence

By the sounds of John Drinnan's Media column in yesterday's Herald, National are planning to not only kill off TVNZ7, but also seem to be winding down Freeview in much the same way Telecom killed Tivo. It looks like Sky TV will become the monopoly distributor of digital TV content in NZ, and National is relaxed with that.

Good news from Maori Television's Ian Taylor, who is keen to approach the channel's board to see if they'd like to rescue Media7 from certain death, seeing how NZ On Air has become a cross-subsidisation vehicle for commercial popcorn, reality shows and cop porn.

Friday, November 18, 2011

John Bags for Epsom

Voters in Epsom will be offered John Bags at the polling booths this election. The large brown paper bags, emblazoned with an Obama-esque image of John Banks on the side, are being offered to Epsom voters to minimise any harm during election day.

"John Bags have many functions," said Auckland City Mission organiser Les Bitten, who has supplied the thousands of bags. "They can be worn by voters as they enter the polling booths, so they won't be recognised by friends and family. Hyperventilating voters can use them to help ease the symptoms of voting for John Banks. They can also be used to vomit in, avoiding any embarrassment to affected voters."

Johnsonville parishes in the Ohariu electorate are considering a similar public service.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Responsible Tea Dates

How do you fuck up an afternoon tea? How? To avoid future faux pas, I have adapted NORML's Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use to Political Tea Dates:

1. Adults Only. Political Tea Dates should be R18 to ensure the appearance of a mature, constructive discussion.

2. No Ad Libbing. This is a photo op to sway voters to your implicit suggestions, not a place for free and wide-ranging conversation. Stick to the script.

3. Set and Setting. The responsible Tea Dater will carefully consider his/her mind-set and physical setting, and regulate language accordingly. Do not intend to have a private conversation when you've invited the national media pack to stand on the other side of a piece of glass, unless you want the Tea Date to look like feeding time at the zoo.

4. Resist Abusing Opponents. Use of Tea Dates to slag off one's opponents, to the extent that it impairs democracy, personal integrity or achievement, is still abuse, and should be resisted by the responsible Tea Dater.

5. Respect the Rights of Others. Do not complain to the police at the drop of a hat. It'll make you look like a wimp.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Now That's What I Call Pap

Do you want to groove along to John Key's rockingest hits? Sing from the same songbook as Paula Bennett? Then you need Now That's What I Call Pap 2011! Featuring dance hit the Mucky Rena!

Have you heard about the ship they call the Mucky Rena?
She's beached as bro on the Astrolabe Marina
Slowly breaking up leaking oil and containers
Hey, Mucky Rena!

Croon along to SOE Sold Cheap:

SOE sold cheap
Everybody owns one.
SOE sold cheap
To buy schools and prisons.
Funny thing
This money fling won't do anything
For long term growth or jobs.
It's just a short term fix for business groups
To shut their quarterly gobs.

Enjoy the folksy charm of I Am a Sock:

I've built walls
In mighty Ohariu
A stitch up clean and true.
I have no need of thinking; thinking causes pain.
It's being out of power I disdain.
I am a sock
I am a muppet.

Dress up in your government-issued uniform, grab your pepper spray and baton, and rock out to I Am the Law and the Law Rules!

Arresting scum and doped fools
I am the Law and the Law Rules!
I am the Law and the Law Rules!
All I need now is the right tools
I am the Law and the Law Rules!

When will Judy give me a gun?
To stop dead all of those drug mules?
And beat suspects with instead of stools?
I am the Law and the Law Rules!
I am the Law and the Law Rules!

Don't forget Anne Tolley's favourite NZ sea shanty, Failing:

So we're failing
One out of five
They'll never get help that they need.
They're failing
Rotten apples, ditched by middle class fear
So they're failing
Underclass overboard
We'll never see them again.
Out sight, mind. Their parents don't vote.
So we'll have no problems there.

Get your copy now! Available from all music retailers, in association with Radio Jive.

Sandbagging the Stop Banks

My existential opposition to John Banks goes back a long time. Way back before this blog started, further back than even the original gFBT website, where I fought against John Banks' monomaniacal philosophy in Auckland's council chambers on behalf of the strip clubs and brothels.

It goes further back than his time as Minister of Police under the previous National government, where Banks' lobotomised pitbull was unleashed. But we're getting warmer. The 90's were the hey-day of those two devoted Muldoon groupies, John Banks and Winston Peters.

My first experience of John Banks' wafer-thin narrow-mindedness first became apparent in the early 90's. The old man knew Banks, and appeared on Radio Pacific talkback with him. They got along like a house on fire.

The bunker vision was astounding, possibly a result of too much time alone in the maimai. At least I could understand my father's misanthropy. He was a lawyer, after all. But he was well read, whereas John Banks was... not.

John Banks has no time for the Other. Other people's lives, other people's ideas, other people's stories. Hell, even to this day, Banks has only watched three movies; Spice Girls, Laramie, and Sound of Music. Which begs the question of which is narrower, his mind or his DVD collection?

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'd rather cough blood than vote for John Banks. Alas, it is up to the voters of Epsom to determine whether the richest suburb in the land wants to be represented by the thickest twig in the thicket.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Banks of the River Vile

This video of John Banks is doing the rounds on Facebook:

This twatcock is in the wrong party. I keep telling my old Act mates (the ones that still talk to me, anyway) that it should have been Boscawen running in Epsom, not this hateful sack of shit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kissing Hands and Shaking Babies

I've got a bastard behind the eyes this morning. I suspect it may be due to overdosing on attending election Meet the Candidates meetings. This ordeal by fire might be necessary to test the stamina of the prospective MPs, but it has done my head in after only a handful of gigs.

The best of the best gigs was last night at the Aro Valley Community Hall. It is how all election meetings should be held, with wit and audience participation. The Dim and the Dom tell it like it was. The $2 sausages were also damned fine.

The next most fun one thus far was the Otaki bash, where that Guy got grilled. The Hot Fuzz Award for vanilla gothic community hall meeting so far is Maungaraki, where the first open question to the candidates started "This might seem like a self-interested question.."

The most surprising candidates gig has been the genteel and tolerant meeting in Whitby, where not only cannabis activists were welcomed, the 20 year old Act boy-candidate who had a panic attack on stage was treated with kid gloves. The last days of the Third Reich came to mind, where the powers that remained threw untrained boys onto the front line, and here was the "enemy" giving comfort.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bring Me Coffee or Tea

As John Key's coffee shop date with John Banks in Epsom draws nearer, only one question is on newspaper editors' minds; what is the ideal hot beverage for the two Johns to sit down with? I caught up with Emeritus Professor of Tea Service Dr Ted Cosy at Victoria University to find out the most appropriate herbal blend for the historic meeting.

"First off, coffee is not an option," said Professor Ted. "John Banks is on record as hating short blacks, and both men are wary of flat whites during photo ops, as the risk of milk moustaches is quite high. Thirdly, the caffeine levels could throw them off message in front of the cameras. Their PR won't allow that."

"John Banks is known to be very selective about his tea," Cosy said. "Black tea is not an option for obvious reasons. Banks also finds Ceylon tea distasteful. He is a well-known long-time opponent of Flowery Orange Pekoe, although he said that in recent times, his disgust has lessened to merely throwing up in his mouth on rare occasions, like George HW Bush."

"It is anticipated that beverages will be served with a large plate of dead rats to share between Banks and Key, so they should be looking for a tea that will disguise the food's flavours, not accent them. Earl Grey is a contender. Its dishwater base note would neatly overwhelm the dead rats," advised Ted. "Almost but not quite."

"No, the obvious perfect tea for John Banks and John Key is St John's Wort."

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fucking judges, how do they work?

Not as well as the parole board, according to National party policy.

I thought I had misheard NatRad's announcement of National's Law and Order policy. Even when Darth Vader in Pearls herself appeared on Checkpoint explaining the policy I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. But it seems that National wants the Parole Board to have the ability to appeal to the High Court near the end of someone's prison sentence and incarcerate them indefinitely. No Right Turn goes into the details.

Preventative Detention is available to judges during sentencing, a novelty borne out of the last decade of Labour and National outbidding each other to show how tough on crime they are. But this plainly is not harsh enough, and National now wants the ability for the Parole Board to add time onto full sentences served.

The whole point of the rule of law is to prevent arbitrary sentencing, yet this is plainly want National are seeking. Indeed, National's MO for law and order policy seems to be one knee jerk reaction after another.

Clayton Weatherston unsuccessfully used provocation as a defence, and National changed the law. The Waihopai Three used the "claim of right" defence successfully. Not only did National change the law, they are suing the penniless priests for damages. Tame Iti's Flightless Circus managed to get some video evidence ruled inadmissible and National changed the law (with the help of Labour). And now, with the imminent release of an unrepentant "Beast of Blenheim," National wants to change the law again.

National clearly has no respect for Lady Justice.

In unrelated news, Rodney Hide is threatening to disband the democratically elected Hamilton City Council for the losses incurred by the failed V8 money-spinner. Perhaps this is an obtuse dig at his Epsom replacement John Banks, who threw $2.5 million of Auckland City ratepayers' money down the toilet over a wasted run of My Fair Lady.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

147 Too Big To Fail Corporations on the Wall

Further to yesterday's look at the doomed round of G-20 talks, New Scientist points to research on the interconnectedness of international business. The capitalist network is made primarily of 1318 corporations, of which 147 companies are superconnected. The Top 50 list of these hubs is almost exclusively money movers and includes Lehman Brothers, due to when the data was collected.

Centre Left Insults Tories Offending Right Inclined Supporters

My, my. Aren't the Nats a bunch of sensitive little darlings all of a sudden. Must be election season. David Farrar, Cameron Slater and others are joining the latest round of Labour-bashing, this time over a radio blab. The conversation went something like this:

Cheeky Honky Nat: I'd nail Metiria Turei. I suspect she'd nail me. Who would you nail?
Smug Labourite: Well, I wouldn't nail Judith Collins ever.

Cue shock, horror and revulsion at Smug Labourite. The woman who doesn't mind being known as Darth Vader in Pearls is hamming up the perceived injury like a footballer looking for a penalty. The man who wanted a Governor General who looked like one of us is somehow off the hook, and Cunliffe ends up apologising to Collins.

This year's Used Panties Award for Dirty Campaigning still seems a shoo-in for the Nats, while Labour looks set to end up with the Skidmarked Gruts.

Friday, November 04, 2011


David Rothkopf over at Foreign Policy has a good list of 20 Things the G-20 could focus on achieving. Here's a taste from the introduction:
But the new reality for the United States is it can't bully anyone into action or make problems go away with a sweep of its check-writing pen. Nor, for that matter, can the Chinese, despite the size of their reserves. The Europeans will have to play a central role, and the rest of the world's leading countries will have to collaborate. Indeed, a central irony to this entire crisis is that though it looks like a debate about how tightly linked European countries wish to be, it is actually a demonstration that virtually all the world's countries are already linked far more tightly than any electorate would willingly approve in a national referendum. The markets have engineered the integration without benefit of public consultation, and it is now up to people everywhere to pay into this system of someone else's devising -- one which serves the interests of global bankers rather better than it seems to those of average citizens, lofty rhetoric about rising tides aside. (While rising tides may lift all boats, those without boats are left to sink or swim.) 
Several heresies are mentioned, including a global central bank and a Tobin tax. In related news, Bill Gates is the latest sleb to support a Robin Hood/ Tobin tax.

Palin Postcards from Otaki

Just returned from a cannabis law reform protest outside the Meet the Candidates Town Hall meeting in Otaki. I left my notebook at home, and ended up writing notes from the meeting on my palm. Hence, I have to blog now or let the night terrors wash my notes away.

Organised by the Otaki Rotary Club and held at the War Memorial Hall, I was somewhat disappointed that they had excluded local ALCP candidate Fred MacDonald from talking at the meeting. He was in the audience and wasn't so much as offered a two minute address during the ninety minute meeting. Mind you, Katrina Shanks didn't speak at last night's Tawa meeting either, albeit for different reasons. Shanks is not so eager to win her Ohariu seat from Dunne. Call it Goldsmith Syndrome.

The four permitted candidates for the Otaki meeting were incumbent National MP Nathan Guy, Labour's Peter Foster, the Greens' Michael Gilchrist and some old geezer for NZ First. I had the misfortune of sitting adjacent to Nathan Guy's campaign manager, so I had to put up with lots of happy clapping during Guy's answers.

Guy started the gig professionally enough, but audience derision started promptly after he justified the expressway bypass as good for Otaki. Freudian slips such as "National are encouraging people into unemployment" were unforced errors of his own design. When a question on the MMP referendum popped up, I was surprised that he limited his criticisms of MMP to rural electorate sizes. Not once did he mention the party line of SM.

His defence of National Standards was similarly limp. So much so, I felt confident enough to speak up and put the boot in a couple of times, much to his campaign manager's chagrin. So much for Stephen Joyce's apprentice. I was underwhelmed by that Guy.

Labour's Peter Foster all but read off his notes all evening. He seemed most clued up when advising on Labour's release schedule for policy in the coming week. He hardly scratched Guy on the SOE sell-downs. I would have expected more policy detail and conviction from a lawyer, yet Foster seems to be treating the candidate run as a fruitless part-time pursuit.

The Green Party's Michael Gilchrist had hot and cold moments during his responses. Even so, he was arguably the "winner" on the night. He mentioned the insulation scheme that the Nats pinched off the Greens, and was fond of the word alienation. e.g. alienation of state assets, of youth unemployment.

It is worth noting at this point that the only brown fellas in the room were Gilchrist and Foster. The audience was almost entirely elderly and white. No young families. The only genuinely young person in the room was the More FM reporter. Not exactly representative of Brotaki at large.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Printing Jobs

Prime Minister John Key today unveiled the National Party's Employment Initiative policy which, if implemented, could see up to 100,000 new jobs created in the next 12 months.

"The Brand Management Work scheme is based on our Labour-plus focus group results, which showed a strong preference for cost effective training programs as a welfare solution," said John Key at Goodfellow Motors on Parnell Rise, where he was opening a new BMW showroom.

"A range of solutions were suggested at the focus groups, such as work teams to dig holes and fill them in again. This idea meshed well with our Fear and Loathing focus groups, who concluded that the public are still worried about the road toll, even though it has been trending down for decades. Accordingly, National has been building roads of National significance in our first term.

"However, I'm sure that many of the familiar faces I see in the audience are aware that the road toll has been a fantastic smokescreen to subsidise the road freight lobby with greater cost efficiencies at public expense," added Key, ad libbing from his speech notes.

"National will continue this corporate welfare next term, with a massive re-branding exercise for welfare beneficiaries. Renaming all the welfare benefits will require hundreds of consultants, legal clerks and IT support to facilitate the re-branding. The printing sector, already undergoing a boom due to the election campaign, will continue to enjoy growth as all the paperwork will need to be updated," said Key.

His speech was interrupted briefly by Occupy Auckland protesters who chanted "JUN KEY, JUN KEY, addicted power and money" before the Armed Offenders Squad arrived to contain the protest.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Good times at Te Wharewaka

Good times were had last night as Maori Television's Native Affairs show held their live Kowhiri 11 at the brand new Te Wharewaka down on Wellington's waterfront. The Maori politics program is holding town hall meetings in all the Maori electorates during the election campaign, and last night was Te Tai Tonga's turn.

Your intrepid cannabis campaigner/ blogger was there to witness the evening. A bunch of cannabis law reformers staked out a mini protest outside the entrance to Te Wharewaka, educating the invited studio audience arriving before the gig. Had a few good yarns with a Mana supporter and an old Labour hand. In the quieter moments, I watched the TVNZ Key Goff-off on the cafe's TV. The reggae music that had been playing earlier on over the PA had been switched off in favour of the leader's debate.

We behaved ourselves and were rewarded with invites to the filming of the Native Affairs debate. I have been in the studio audience of TVNZ shows such as Media 7 and Back Benches, but Maori Television's way of doing things is unique. The floor manager kept the audience in check with korero and ka pais. During broadcast, the audience was more bolshie and good humoured than regular studio audiences, more like a wharenui crowd than the studio seat warmers.

But the big surprise of the night was how the electorate candidates handled the debate. The candidates for Te Tai Tonga are the Maori Party's Rahui Katene, Labour's Rino Tirikatene, the Greens' Dora Langsbury and Mana Party's Clinton Dearlove.

The Maori Party's Katene got some stick from the audience over the party's close links with the National Party. A seat at the cabinet table was treated with the disdain of lying down with dogs. Labour's Tirikatene seemed to rely on nostalgia and waffle for the most part. He had a mild panic over an audience question over the halted funding by the National government for the diabetes service. He almost promised that Labour would re-fund the service if elected, before hastily reversing out of any firm commitment to anything.

No, the big winners of the night were the Greens' Dora Langsbury and Mana's Clinton Dearlove. The former, while not Maori, answered more insightfully on the Maori language and training themes due to her work with Te Wananga o Aotearoa. The latter took the gift of the gab award for fluently and passionately outlining what he saw was wrong with the status quo.

It was an added bonus to meet fellow blogger, Maui Street's Morgan Godfrey too. He had rightly sheeted the thrust of the debate down to anger at National's treatment of Maori:

"The [Nats] are shitting on Maori tikanga."