Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hunter's legacy

Hunter S Thompson, sinner and saint of 20th Century literature, blew his brains out while talking with his wife on the phone a few weeks' ago. I hope his wish to have his ashes scattered by being shot out of a cannon comes to pass.

Hunter had been making plans with his wife, Anita, to set up the Hunter S Thompson Foundation. It will be dedicated to helping people in the prison system "who shouldn't be there."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Too fucked to fuck

Recent research has uncovered the high cost of not enough sleep; bad sex and dangerous driving. Pity the poor buggers who only get five hours' sleep a night ;-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More puke

Not content with slurring one person under parliamentary privelege, Winston P accuses the entire Act party as defenders of "paedophilia behaviour and paedophiles in New Zealand."

As an Act (and Labour) party member, this stunt is getting a little out of hand. I do not like being accused of supporting paedophiles. As someone who has been sexually assaulted as a child, I find Winston P's comments more than a little distasteful.

After much sound and fury, Winston P withdrew and apologised to Act MPs. I doubt he will apologise to the rest of the membership.

It's a pity his father didn't withdraw and apologise in time. It would have saved everyone a lot of bother.

Question Time today:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received any information
or reports that in this House there is a political party that
seems to be a defender of paedophilia behaviour and paedophiles
in New Zealand?

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for another

Hon Richard Prebble: The matter does not settle there. Mr Peters is making a serious slur on parliamentarians. That is most certainly out of order, and if he was suggesting that I am defending paedophilia he is most certainly mistaken. I require him to withdraw and apologise for that very serious slur. It is all right for Mr Peters, and we cannot stop him from slandering anyone outside this House, but under our rules he cannot slander a member of this House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: First of all, the caucus of the ACT party is not a party—or anything like it, apparently. Secondly, I was prepared to allow that Rodney Hide had made a serious mistake
in helping someone who walked into his office, or had others walk into his office seeking an MP's assistance, and I am still prepared to. But when some member of Parliament rises, knowing that the evidence that is out now clearly points to such a person, then I resent in any way, shape, or form that it is me who is guilty of a breach of privilege, or has in any way offended the rules of Parliament.

Hon Richard Prebble: It is all very well for Mr Peters now to refer to some other MP. The person who asked the question was myself, and I take very deep offence at Mr Peters' statement. I was seeking clarification as to whether any crime had been committed, and as far as I can tell no crime has been committed and no evidence has been given of it. So I am now being slurred as being a defender of paedophilia, and I take very great exception to that. Mr Peters may make it his practice to slander people outside this House and may get popular support for doing so, but he may not do it to MPs. I am asking you, Madam Speaker, now that I have been so slurred by Mr Peters, to require him to withdraw and apologise, even though he has great difficulty in admitting that he has made mistakes.

Madam SPEAKER: I think I have heard sufficient argument on this. Obviously the question when it was first asked was out of order. Members know that they should not imply infamous or damaging conduct on other members. If the member did imply such conduct then he should either deny he was making that allegation or he should withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wish to raise a point of clarification for you to make on this judgment, and it concerns an event. I referred to a political party that stood, to a man and a woman, and cheered Mr Jim Peron just 2 weeks ago at its annual conference. I referred to a political party. I did not refer to anybody in this House, and Hansard will disclose that.

Madam SPEAKER: However, a member felt that the inference was to that particular member, so is the member denying that there was any such inference to an individual member?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am saying that my reference was to a political party. The specific details are of a political party, after the matter had been raised in this House, cheering, to a man and a woman, at its last annual general meeting, one Jim Peron.

Madam SPEAKER: Is the member saying, and I ask this for the last time—[Interruption] The member has taken exception to what was a serious allegation, from which a reasonable inference could have been taken, even though reference was made generally. I am asking the member, for the last time, either to withdraw and apologise or to state that no such inference was applied to an individual member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wish to make it very clear to you that a political party—and a parliamentary party—[Interruption] No, I am not going to apologise.

Hon Richard Prebble: Of course you are.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I am not. I am not going to apologise for accusing a political party—and I have given the House evidence for it—of being a defender of a paedophile.

Madam SPEAKER: The member is not going to withdraw and apologise. Are you denying then that the implication was that individual members of that party were supporters of paedophiles?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, obviously. I referred to a political party. But no one in this House can demand that because I referred to his or her party I therefore referred to that member.

Stephen Franks: Mr Peters said that the ACT party, to a man and a woman, stood and applauded Mr Peron. That is untrue for a start; I was there. He has included me in his inference, and I demand that he withdraw and apologise to me, for a start.

Madam SPEAKER: I refer members to Speaker's ruling 47/4, for those who are interested in these matters, and I know that those who are participating in this matter are interested: 'It has
traditionally been ruled that it is perfectly in order for members to say that the Government or a member has been influenced by somebody outside Parliament or has had advice from somebody outside Parliament. It is not in order to say that the Government or a member has been dominated by, has received instructions from, has received directions from, or has been dictated to by somebody outside Parliament.' That was the implication. Would the member then please withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will not, because I have made it very clear where my allegation lay, and with respect that Speaker's ruling covers no such thing; there is no reference to this matter
at all.

Madam SPEAKER: I refer the member, then, to Speaker's ruling 47/1.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We have here deliberate defiance of the Speakership. Just asking Mr Peters to withdraw so that he can make some TV stunt is not
sufficient. I believe he should be named. I take very great exception to what Mr Peters is saying. I say to you that, in my case—because I can speak only for myself—what he is saying is totally untrue.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If Mr Prebble and Mr Franks are offended by what I have said, then I apologise personally to those two members.

Madam SPEAKER: The member has apologised. We will now move on to the next question.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I, too, am offended by the Rt Hon Winston Peters' implication in what he said. I think you were right the first time you ruled—that
he should withdraw and apologise totally.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member withdraw and apologise to all members of the ACT party in the House whom he was referring to in that statement.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise to all those members, whether or not they stood in support of Jim Peron.

Madam SPEAKER: No; does the member withdraw and apologise?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Wrong number

My, my. Isn't this Electoral Commission pizza grab making interesting stories. It seems the Labour Party Creative Accounting division may have over-stretched themselves. The membership figure of 48,609 given to the Commission has been ridiculed down to a more credible 10,000. Jonathan Milne also reckons the Maori Party membership is higher than Labour's. Too right. Blood is thicker than any union official.

Good on Whig for keeping it real with the tally. Idiot/Savant, does Labour's quintuple-counting inaccuracies count as fraud or is misleading the Commission and the public all par for the course?

Full circle

There was a framed copy of a cheque on the wall of Dad's office. It was a Bank of New Zealand cheque dated 1974 and was made out for around $500,000. The year before ACC began, my father had won a record personal damages suit on behalf of a client. It was a relatively straight-forward case. Someone was negligent. A victim appealed to the court for redress. They got it.

Skip forward to today, and you wonder how much has changed. For starters, everyone pays. Every business and employee pays ACC levies. Every car user pays with petrol and licence ACC levies. These levies go up and down not based solely on claims, but largely due to fluctuations in ACC's investments.

We pay for squadrons of Health and Safety Inspectors to ensure the risk of anything bad happening is minimised, yet bad things continue to happen. Layer upon layer of bureaucratic tissue paper is added and then we wonder why we're so goddamn low in productivity. Even the Greens are bitching about stupid red tape.

ACC, like Inland Revenue, prides itself on Scottish miserliness. Like WINZ staff, the sheer quantity of cash proves too tempting for some ACC workers, namely Jeff Chapman and Gavin Robins. Then lawyers such as John Miller are in court on behalf of clients stonewalled by ACC's reluctance to compensate. Taking ACC to court is a growth industry.

How much has changed? Well, it's the same beginning and ending with a sackload of expensive crap in the middle.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good call

Both the judge and jury should be congratulated for a wise verdict in the Dixon "nutjob" trial.

Blaming P for Dixon's rampage is like blaming God for Brian Tamaki. The judge put it legal-speak by directing the jury that "the consumption of P on its own, even if it induces psychosis, is not enough to amount to insanity for the purposes of our Crimes Act."

As an old girlfriend said to me, it's not what you've got it's what you do with it. Role models such as Darren McDonald have shown that P is a relatively harmless stimulant (in a public safety way) if used by reasonable people. People who have a violent reaction to the drug should be monitored.

The black market is unmonitored. It will sell to anyone with the cash. From a public safety side of things, wouldn't it be worthwhile considering some rules to ensure someone doesn't feed the animals?

The toleration and trust that the Needle Exchange Program fostered amongst junkies has helped prevent illness and death. Even drug czar "Chairman Jim" has acknowledged the good work done. The concept could be expanded to include all things where risks are accepted and medication is observed. This is why bars and casinos have licences. Regulation provides a code that someone on site is held accountable for.

The Greens have released a Drug Policy that could provide an open and honest look at everything from alcohol to acid, methamphetamine to caffeine. Act, the Liberal Party, have yet to provide a better alternative. This is surprising given some truck drivers smoke P for professional reasons.

Passive Internet Dating

If any single Wellington women read this blog, please take note:

Your Seduction Style: Ideal Lover

You seduce people by tapping into their dreams and desires.
And because of this sensitivity, you can be the ideal lover for anyone you seek.
You are a shapeshifter - bringing romance, adventure, spirituality to relationships.
It all depends on who your with, and what their vision of a perfect relationship is.

I've always thought that you've got to know a bit about their head if you both want to screw their brains out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Democracy of the few

The Electoral Commission is busy trying to divvy up the cash for political party presentations on the box. In order to help get the proportional split of funding sussed, parties have been asked to divulge membership numbers. Some have publicly disclosed them, some haven't. Act won't disclose their membership numbers even confidentially to the Commission.

It might have something to do with partisan representatives on the Commission, it might not. Regardless, the membership numbers that have been released make interesting reading.

Labour 48,609
Maori Party 13,500
Green Party 3027
United Future
National confidential
NZ First confidential
Act not telling

At a guess, there are roughly 100,000 members of political parties in New Zealand. That's less than a quarter of the people who watched the debut of Campbell Live, according to the pollmeisters. Around 2 million Kiwis voted in 2002's general election. Based on those numbers, political party representation as a percentage of voters sits at around 5 percent.

Not all party members are active. Let's assume 20 percent of party members are active participants in their respective parties (and that's being very generous). According to all these goNZo guesses, 1 percent of the voting population (being generous) decides the constituency candidates and List seat paybacks.

NZ Democracy; by a minority,
of a minority, for a minority.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not fit for human consumption

Frontseat and the Herald have been searching for the best and worst looking buildings. While there are dozens of finalists for the ugliest award, few have been nominated for the best design. The Herald haven't found any in good ones in Auckland, while a Frontseat reader nominated the Town Hall, The Civic and perhaps Force.

The Herald's finalists in the ugly department feature the Auckland Central Police station and 8 Burgoyne St in Newton. I would nominate the heroin needle at KY City. In fact, I'd nominate the whole Auckland central city area. It has the appeal and aesthetics of a refrigerator graveyard.

The Architecture website shows a couple of good Wellington designs, the Futuna Chapel and the Epuni St apartments off Aro Valley (see image). I'd nominate the Council and Central Library buildings.

Then again, Wellington also has some really bad designs, such as the Beehive, Courtenay apartments and Wellington Central Police Station. The police station follows the precedent set by the Palmerston North City Council building, otherwise known as the Grounded Aircraft Carrier.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Do chimps make better share traders?

A recent study into complexity theory, randomness and "zero intelligence" fund managers has drawn startling conclusions. Chimpanzees may be just as effective share traders as human ones. Also, they'll work for peanuts and have no student loan.

Requiem for a domestic argument

The Act Party conference at KY City last week provided enough drama and conflict for Jonathan Milne to sum it up succintly in a Dear John missive in the Herald. It's a bloody pearler.

I hope Act do let John Banks slip the noose. My gut says that Act will be in Parliament after the election, with or without Banks. This could be either to Rodney Hide securing Epsom or, more likely, Act gets over the 5% threshold.

Please do not quote polls at me saying Act is lower than the margin of error. I'd rather trust tealeaves. I am a strong supporter of chaos theory, which bases itself on the premise of "system dependent on initial conditions." Rounding, assumptions and biases inevitably leak into the poll equation consciously or sub-consciously. Even small errors in measurement can leave answers as nothing more than gibberish. Therefore, statistics can be used to prove whatever you want. Bell curves be damned. When the election's done and the ballots are counted, that's when the wave function collapses. Until then, anything can happen.

Something always happens. I have high hopes for John Campbell's show starting tomorrow. He displays the anger of idealism combined with the loquacity of an articulate stoner. As a former supporter of Alliance (RIP), he has enough philosophical differences to chew out all election hopefuls with gonzo objectivity. Aging chihuahua Paul Holmes and Women's Daily frontperson Susan Wood should be justifiably worried.

The current affairs war is certainly rattling Bill Ralston over at TVNZ. In a rare display of brutal honesty, he has said that if he were head of Prime he would pour petrol over himself and throw himself off Auckland's tallest building. Thing is, he's right. I rarely watched the Holmes Show on TV One without cringing. I'd rather stick my face in a warm bowl of kava than watch Holmes on Prime. It's that bad.

Not that the Women's Daily, better known as Close Up at 7, is much better. If TVNZ want a realistic fight against Campbell Live, they need a decent interviewer. The best interviewers in TVNZ have been kicked upstairs, namely Ian Fraser and Bill Ralston. Where is the new talent?
Where is the next generation of Kim Hills? They can't scare the pre-Coro crowd too much, so that rules out Jeremy Wells.

But back to my second tangent about something always happening, the media are but one part of the equation. The electorates are volatile in a way not seen since 1996. Around the country, a large segment of registered voters are window-shopping for something to believe in.

Labour can't take anything for granted with some serious holes in their armour. National are still searching for a firm policy foothold, but "John Boy" Bill English is inexorably carving something interesting on his desk. Ken Shirley has likewise been kicking the triumvirate of Education Ministers (Maharey, Mallard, Benson-Pope) in the wanangas.

The police are suffering a haemorrage of public support not seen since the Red Squad days of the early-80s. The cops are in the docks or out ticketing minor speeders while waiting for lahars. And did anyone order a taxi?

John Tamihere wants rapprochement, but how soon does he want and/or deserve it? Frankly, he deserves to be in Cabinet more a than a few that come to mind. The PM must be weighing that card's chances carefully. If I played with a Tarot deck, John Tamihere would be the Knave of Pentacles.

The King of Pentacles, Don Brash, has been troubled by the public getting to read about the man behind the vacuum-cleaned garage. I would be very concerned for their mental health if any child said they want to grow up to be just like Don Brash.
For some reason, Six Feet Under's George comes to mind.

The tealeaves show that Peter "Captain Sensible" Dunne is distancing from some of his more unPleasant pre-ex-MPs. He is determined to walk the grey path of neutrality, lest he rule out a potential Host to latch onto. He can afford to look after "Captain Percy" Paul Adams and Larry "Baldrick" Baldock, while distancing himself from hard policy statements from Marc "The Narc" Alexander and seek the "Don't Know" vote.

The bottle is still spinning on Winston P. Last week's puke in the House has kept his mouth shut in Question Time for a week. But how long will it last? How long before he gets away from visiting his party's youth wing down at the bingo halls and opens his mouth in public again? Too damned soon.

At least Winston P gave us Rodney's Angry Face. We need to see more of it. The Herald has also been most forthcoming in Act needs to get back to its roots. Spot on.

Any pact Act makes with Banks will make them look like pussies. Rodney Hide should tell John Banks to take a flying jump at a full-length mirror. They don't need him. Perhaps he can shack up with Winston P. Go home, John. Stop trying to control everything.

There are also distinct rumblings from unforeseen quarters. It doesn't have a name. It is a feeling that can't be touched. It is a dream.

And so it begins...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Stupid graphic warnings

The do-gooders at ASH want to see graphic photos (that a small minority of smokers might get) printed on all tobacco products. Although you'd be hard pushed to find a single smoker in the country who doesn't know the risks of smoking, it seems more needs to be done to stop this awful, disgusting, yet enjoyable habit.

We don't buy cases of beer with graphic photos of wife-beatings on the side. Bottles of whiskey don't show possible side-effects such as a career in politics. SUVs don't have graphic warnings of squashed children on the back. But it's OK to demonise and persecute smokers as the lepers de jour.

A simple way to avoid existing and future stupid warnings is at hand. It's called... a cigarette case. I have avoided stupid warnings for over five years by using one. ASH can huff and puff but they won't affect me with their passive buffoonery.

Muriel Newman has launched the Smokefree Environments (Exemptions) Bill to try and encourage a little more toleration of smokers. Although it means well, it just looks like a lot of red tape on consensual agreement and so forth. More traction might have been gained by keeping it simple, and improving the property rights of businesses.

For example, the equivalent of an End User's License Agreement could be posted at the entrance to businesses. By entering the premises, consumers agree to the conditions laid out in the EULA. Such things could include a disclaimer that people might be smoking, drinking and having fun in the premises, and that anything they find disagreeable can be solved by going somewhere else. Catholic churches could then warn people that inhaling incense and candle crap might be bad for one's lungs, and you pray at your own risk. I don't see ASH raising a warning about this anywhere.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

TV3 democracy

Congratulations to TV3 News for having the guts to stand up against dictatorial censorship of filming MPs in the House. Although the network risks censure and perhaps a ban by showing David Benson-Pope's nap time in Question Time, the Speaker's decision to go ahead with the government's own monopolised feed means the media have little to lose by pissing them off. Banned now or later? BFD.

Courtesy of Stuff

In spite of previous Speaker Jonathan Hunt's reassurances that the government feed could happily sit next to the existing media, Margaret Wilson thinks that the gallery would be too crowded with all those cameras, and they do it overseas so that's OK.

Mainstream media and bloggers from across the political spectrum are up in arms about the censorship. TVNZ's Dick Griffin, Dominion Post editor and head of the Commonwealth Press Union Tim Pankhurst, TV3's Mark Jennings have all weighed in strongly opposed to the move.

I am heartened by Parliament wishing to provide video feeds of the House and select committees out of public interest. It's one small step to transparency and lowering the considerable barriers to public access in that most hallowed of zoos. However, it should not come at the price of open and free media.

The Press Gallery acts as third umpire, keeping a watch on the watchmen while the Speaker is preoccupied. Under the new state-and-computer-controlled system, an MP could make rude gestures to distract a speaking member without getting caught. Such actions might escape the Speaker's attention, especially if they are new to the job. However, MPs cannot have their eyes on two places at once (David Benson-Pope has difficulty focusing his eyes on one). An independent media provides an important check and balance.

That said, I hope the new public access feed will include 24/7 access to the camera above the Speaker's Chair. Then invite Paris Hilton over for a tour...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Big Brother Bear

The War On Real And Imagined Dangers (WORAID) has taken a great leap forward with Microsoft unveiling the latest threat to child privacy, a spy toy called "Teddy" (login required). Although a date for mass-production has yet to be set, Teddy showed up at a Tech Fair to show off his state of the art surveillance skills.

Armed with face recognition software, moving head and arms, four microphones and a sound system, parents and cargivers will be able to scream dire warnings of immediate peril to their kids from anywhere in the world by remote video link.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Smells like Muldoon

"Well, the one thing with writing stories about the rise of fascism is that if you wait long enough, you’ll almost certainly be proved right." - Alan Moore, Salon interview

Banks ready to Act?

According to John Banks, polling suggests that he would win the Tamaki seat this election if he stood there. Never mind pushing aside the moderate and all-round nice guy Ken Shirley. Nice guys don't win seats, especially in Rob Muldoon's old stomping ground of Tamaki. In the weird world of New Zealand MMP politics, a control freak who loses an incumbent mayoralty position can gain more power by appealing to less voters. I pity his wife.

What is it with Kiwis and their fixation on electing megalomaniac bastards? MMP was adapted from the German model specifically to avoid them, yet here we are with "Chairman Jim" Anderton, Winston P, and perhaps John "I now think I'd like to be Prime Minister of New Zealand one day" Banks. There must be some repressed demons within us, some masochistic streak we are hell-bent on using to flagellate ourselves.

A taxi driver once summed it up in the late '90s, when Jenny Shipley was patronising the Beehive. "Although I don't always agree with what Helen Clark believes in, at least she believes in something. With Jenny Shipley, I do not not know if she stands for anything." There, in a nutshell, is National's long-term problem. There is no Vision Thing. There never has been, at least not in living memory. The only time they get elected in when Labour implodes. National is to Labour, what methadone is to heroin.

Which is probably why Banks has ruled out standing for the Nats. With Act, there is potential for him to wrest the leadership off Rodney, especially if Rodney doesn't land a seat in Epsom and Banks takes Tamaki. Judging by sitting Act MPs, there are enough Rabids in caucus to provide both a successful leadership challenge and ideological support for whatever comes out Banks' mouth.

This gives Rodney Hide a damned good incentive to win Epsom. It will also focus a lot of attention on Act's Party List. At present, there are four Libs and five Rabids in caucus. John Banks has pointed out he should be near the top; a bit like scum in a stockpot I suppose. Like United Future, there will be much fighting in the game of musical seats. The balance of Libs to Rabids will prove pivotal to Act's election hopes, and Act's future ideological direction.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

May your God go with you

Dave Allen is dead. He was an anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian, non-PC alternative comedian before Monty Python, the Goodies and The Young Ones were around. With a fine eye for observation and a wry timing for telling truths, he once said:

"New Zealanders are the most balanced people in the world; they have a chip on both shoulders."
(Times have changed. My generation has a scoop of chips, while the teenagers of today have them super-sized)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Better than NCEA

I am 76% Asshole/Bitch.
Total Asshole or Bitch!
I am one of those people that love to hear the sound of their voice. That and my lousy attitude make for a mixture as toxic next-day-mexican-dinner-ass-drip.

Hat tip Vile File.

Campaign Song

Look at me, I'm Winston P!
Destroying lives for publicity!
I won't repeat
My filth in the street,
It lacks privelege Parliamentary!

Look at me, I'm Winston P!
Spinning shit to gold with sophistry!
My only friends
Are camera lens,
Red wine, whiskey and me!

Look at me, I'm Winston P!
Courtenay Place constituency!
Hedonism's OK
Unless you are gay,
And know an Act MP!

Look at me, I'm Winston P!
Please ignore my hypocrisy!
Don't mention Mark
Or his underage lark,
It's hetero History!

Look at me, I'm Winston P!
As seen in wet dreams of the pensionry!
No need for Queer Eyes
To choose my ties,
The taxpayer buys them for me!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ayn Rand, porn star

I was slightly stunned to read Winston Peters accusing Jim Peron's bookshop, Aristotle's, of being a porn shop. Having been to quite a few porn shops in my time (as well as strip clubs, massage parlours, gambling venues, houses of ill repute and Parliament), I have some knowledge of what they look like.

Aristotle's features a range of political books, with a certain specialty for Ayn Rand (Ayn Rand is one of the most popular bad writers outside Mills & Boon, but she certainly doesn't write smut). Under parliamentary privelege, Winston Peters described Jim Peron's business as "extreme political propaganda." Methinks Winston is transferring his own attributes on to others.

Rodney Hide looked so angry on Close Up, it looked like he was about to throw Peters a left hook. The election campaign just got dirtier.

Melbourne man attempts Darwin Award; fails

Weird, gutless, useless suicide attempt goes wrong.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Has Don Brash got John Kerry's flip-flops?

For the second week in a row, the National Party leadership has been hoisted by its own petard during Question Time. A patsy question from Winnie Laban on withdrawing Indonesia's ambassador provoked Peter "Captain Sensible" Dunne to ask:

Hon Peter Dunne: In light of the Minister's earlier answer that it is appropriate for New Zealand to express concern to Indonesia regarding the outcome of the trial in terms of any appeal that is to be lodged, can he now tell the House what specific actions, if any, the New Zealand Government has taken in respect of that?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I have asked the Ambassador to Indonesia, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ask the Indonesian Government whether it intends to appeal against the decision.
I am, of course, mindful that there is no way that we could instruct such a thing. I am also mindful of the fact that to demand such a thing, and for the Indonesian Government to be seen to be responding to a foreign Government's demand, would be totally counterproductive to what we are all trying to achieve against terrorism in Indonesia.

Rt Hon Helen Clark: How would the Minister react if another country threatened to withdraw its ambassador to New Zealand because the executive here refused to interfere in a court decision?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Quite frankly, to use the vernacular, we would probably tell it to sod off.

This is all part of Election Foreplay. Every party is wooing the middle vote, and it's survival of the fittest. Although Rodney Hide got some flak last week for lining the Nats up on Rongo Wetere's partisan affiliations, today shows it is an effective strategy. Even Winston Peters couldn't resist putting the boot in:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did the Minister or his colleagues see the disclaimer from the National Party leader as to the purport of his first demand that the ambassador be withdrawn from Indonesia, and does he give any credence to it?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I did indeed see the disclaimer. It shows that Dr Brash was last night scrambling to explain his statement, stating that he meant that New Zealand should withdraw Mr Elder for consultations unless Indonesia indicated it would appeal against the sentence. The report notes that that is not consistent with Dr Brash's original statement.

National plainly haven't learned anything from Simon Power's "without reservation" faux pas. Nothing turns off a swinging voter quicker than embarrassing policy U-turns.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Slow news day

Although nothing of consequence is in the national news today (for the fifteenth day straight), Neil Falloon over at Dog Biting Men has an apt rundown on the differences in political party supporters.