Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dodging definitions in EFB

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul have demonstrated how easy it is to avoid proscriptive definitions on electoral advertising:

No-one is soliciting a vote for Ron Paul. All the blimp asks is that you Google him.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Public servants and other office workers are in fear for their life, or at least their lunch, by pigeons in Midland Park. Defenceless retail assistants are getting mugged for their muffins, prompting Wellington City Council to issue an ultimatum to park users. Stop feeding them and littering, or the pigeons will be "culled."

While council staff consider "the most effective and humane way of culling the population," here's a range of suggestions free of charge:
  • Have recordings of Jim Anderton speeches broadcast over speakers in the park. Either no-one will stay long enough to litter or feed the pigeons, or the drone will put the pigeons to sleep.
  • Taser them. If it's humane enough to use on humans, it's OK for pigeons.
  • Use up excess stocks of BZP by putting doses in raisins for the pigeons to consume.
  • Have some bodypainters paint the birds with the NZ flag and let Tame Iti complete his community service by shooting at them.
  • Turn John Key's mass of useless DVDs into shurikens. Charge $2 for a throw at a pigeon.
  • Trevor Mallard spends summer working as a scarecrow at Midland Park. Optional extra, he can threaten to punch people for littering or feeding the birds.
  • Sign up all the pigeons as National party members and let the Labour government do the rest.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A nice pair

Auckland is invading Wellington over the next few days. There's the Blammers and RB coming down for a gig at the Second AWAs tomorrow night tonight. Tonight If you miss out a spot at Might Mighty, there's Michelle A'Court and Jan Maree at the San Francisco Bath House Comedy Night. 8:30 onwards, $15 on the door (Cheap!) Next week, Ewen Gilmour takes the stage.

Thank you for whingeing, you *%$@!

Fidel's Cafe has been fined $600 for allowing smoking in the rear section of their premises:
"Acting on a complaint last year, smokefree enforcement officers from Regional Public Health contacted the cafe about the breach, reminding staff of their legal obligations. Though the cafe agreed to alter the smoking area to comply, staff let people continue to smoke and failed to erect non-smoking signs or remove ashtrays."
The last civilised place to relax with coffee and cigarettes has been dobbed in to the safety nazis. Not content with the huge non-smoking area available in the main cafe, some cum stain of an excuse for a human being has bleated to the health police about the back porch where people could relax and enjoy their rituals without being exposed to inclement weather. Tosser.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Roger

Although I didn't have a spare $90 to attend Sir Roger's birthday at the Beehive tonight, my heartiest congratulations to Roger on his 70th birthday. Cactus Kate has a good spiel on His Douglasness.

I always enjoyed Roger's company when I visited Dad in parliament. Roger had a mellowing effect on the old man. Many years later, it was a pleasure having Roger at my roulette table at Sky City's VIP lounge, where I would try to section spin for him.

All the best to you, Roger.

Royale with Kiwis


Following the Green Party's call for an independent inquiry into electoral financing and the Ombudman's call for a Royal Commission on the criminal justice system, the goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust calls for a Royal Commission on Everything.

"Everything's completely buggered," Chief Executive of the goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust, Will de Cleene, says. "The hospitals are fucked, the prisons munted, the justice system a labyrinthine latrine which favours only those who can afford a decent lawyer. The tertiary education sector is nothing more than a kindergarten for retards, leaving our overcrowded and corrupt prisons as the best public education system on offer."

The goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust calls for a Royal Commission with infinite terms of reference. "This country's been pissing about for too long," says de Cleene. "It's time we got our shit together."


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

EFB Live

The marathon on the EFB has started. It's good TV til Outrageous Fortune. Just caught the end of a round of Points of Order that ended up recalling a very grumpy Margaret Wilson to the House. There are still no sign of the 150 amendments alluded to by DPF in the public realm.

Oh dear, votes now being taken on a number of amendments proposed by Chris Finlayson. Insert a word here, a subclause there. A vocal vote is taken, someone objects, party votes are taken labouriously. Each vote comes out the same: 56-65. It's fillibusting on a base level.

Maybe I'll just watch the sunset instead...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Final thoughts before urgency

Labour are determined to enhance participatory democracy by ramming through the Electoral Finance Bill by the end of the year. Tomorrow will see the start of one of the harshest, meanest, longest sittings in NZ's parliamentary history. For their sins, Labour have only themselves to blame. What remains to be seen is whether the Greens can regain any of the moral high ground.

It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in class listening to Dr Helena Catt outline her thoughts on how electoral finance could be reformed. It involved true transparency of election funding, with both state and private contributions playing their part. What with Parliamentary Services and the broadcasting allocations currently used to fund party advertising, it is a no-brainer to include taxpayer funding in any new scheme.

It involved simplicity, thereby fostering public participation by clarifying what the rule book said.

I may have misheard, but what little Dr Catt said about "third party" regulation involved a carrot and stick approach. Yes, third parties could be registered, but in return they too might have dibs on public funding to express their voices come election time. It was an inspired way to address the democratic deficit of falling voter turnout. Get people involved in third parties and lobby groups, saying things in their own voice in their own way. Handshake it into the mainstream audience through allocated funding. Brilliant.

So, back in April 2006, the Electoral Commission had a pretty good idea of how to tidy the whole thing up. There was nothing preventing the government from throwing these ideas out to the public forum then and there. Ineptly, they bled the state funding story out to test the waters.
It was an early sign of a complete mishandling of such a delicate matter. The waters seethed like a Rotorua mudpool and the government threw up their hands up in pain and defeat, dismissing public funding as political suicide.

Instead, they chose a more drawn-out method of self-immolation. The Electoral Finance Bill was drawn up in secret, a most novel method of increasing democratic participation.

The Electoral Funding Symposium in June was timed to coincide with the release of the draft EFB. It was a reasonable enough assumption. A light Order Paper allowed ample time for the process of legislating the Bill. Who in their right mind would attempt to push through such a controversial Bill less than 12 months before a general election?

The Symposium was to provide a forum on the EFB. Lacking a body to dissect, it ended up being an interesting morning of case studies and overview of existing electoral finance structures, followed by a yawning range of party policy statements in the afternoon.

The launch of the Electoral Finance Bill in July made the KiwiSaver launch look lucid in comparison. Mark Burton couldn't sell umbrellas to Aucklanders, let alone such a mish-mash of mischievous mayhem. I'm flabbergasted that none of Labour's strategists saw this mess coming. What is it with this year? Who died or quit? 2007 seems to be the year Labour lost its head and went feral.

And I have an abiding suspicion that the left wing voting bloc is going to get very feral next year. Methinks Labour have put a big banana skin in the path of the Greens and the Greens are blithely heading straight for it. Even in its current incarnation, the EFB will end up biting the Greens more than Labour. By supporting the EFB, the Greens may be creating their own nemesis.

Judging from Jeanette Fitzsimons launching the F Bomb on the steps of parliament, they are keenly aware of what is at stake. If the Greens are responsible for moderating the EFB in such a way that NORML may be exempt from its effect, that's all well and good. However, it does not remove the very strange precedents still embedded in this Bill. It does not mitigate the reprehensible way this Bill was put together, nor the way it will be rammed through without proper public consultation and input.

How can the Greens salvage some integrity? It's a shame that National have ruled out any deals on the Bill. For National, not the Greens. The Nats have eliminated any chance for bonus points on the Section 59 precedent. John Key will not save the day this time. It's up to the Green MPs to score the points instead.

On a minor victory level, the Greens could amend where they can, and admit the Bill is flawed and ugly. They could agree to the EFB on condition that an amendment is included that terminates the EFB after the next election. It would coincide with the death of the Interim Meaning Bill too. Russel Norman has gone on record for supporting a Citizen's Jury. A Royal Commission does not rule this out. The Nats have already said they'll repeal, so there's nothing lost in the end.

If the Greens are looking for a dramatic flourish, there's another option. Kill the Bill. Not in its entirety, just on necessary clauses. No-one in Labour has yet demonstrated the fixation on January 1st being the start of the regulated period. Three months prior is the generally accepted standard. Vote down January 1 and stick with three months. One could quibble over things such as fixing the election date in stone (notwithstanding a vote of no-confidence) as a pre-requisite. Or the Greens could throw out defintion (ii), therefore defining an electoral advertisement only as attempting to persuade to vote or not vote explicitly for a party or candidate (i).

Nandor, Meyt and Keith crossed the floor for the Dog Microchipping Bill. Surely they can do it again for a much more important reason?