Thursday, September 30, 2004

A sign that the Press is bored stiff... when they have nothing better to do but to put stories like this on the front page.

Doesn't the Herald read its own back-issues?

The Herald has a story today which breathlessly reports:
Britain has confirmed Australia was invited to take part in planning for war shortly after British and US military officials started preparations nine months before Iraq was invaded.

A report in London newspaper the Evening Standard today claimed, according to a leaked Pentagon document, senior British and US commanders met at a "UK and Australia planning conference" in June 2002 in Florida.
However in April of last year, the Herald reported:
At a meeting in London after the Queen Mother's death last year, the old Anglo-Saxon club began to part at the seams as it became clear its titanic offspring, the United States, was planning war on Iraq.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien shrank from the prospect; Australia's John Howard and Britain's Tony Blair, already committed to American primacy, were far more inclined toward invasion.
Since the Queen Mother died in 30th of March 2002, this means that Helen Clark knew that preparations were being made for war with Iraq in the month before this allegedly secret conference! I suppose the Herald has to print these gilliganesque beat-ups so people can read something else besides gloomy prognoses about the US presidential elections.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Voting: Environment Canterbury

Looking at the list of candidates for Christchurch West, there are four worthies of which I have to choose two. Normally I would stick with the incumbents, Alec Neill and Nicky Wagner. However Neil Andrews did some electron microscopy work for me when I was doing my thesis, so in a blatant act of returning a favour I'm voting for him instead of Nicky.

Voting: The Canterbury District Health Board

Voting for the District Health Board was slightly easier this time around. From a list of twenty-nine candidates, I purged:
Anybody that works in the medical field It's better to have people without such conflicts because if they know about the field then they would have to recuse themselves whereas if they weren't elected, the DHB would be hearing/ignoring their point of view anyway.

Anybody standing for Health Cuts Hurt Such people have a misguided impression of what the District Health Board does. The money they can spend is controlled by the government while the Board is dominated by the unappointed members. If any of the Health Cuts Hurt were to be elected, they would be unable to do anything or speak to the media about it. Moreover much of the District Health Board's time would be wasted by screaming, blubbering fits as these people come to terms with their own impotence.

People I have good reasons for not voting forThis includes Robin Booth (prat), Martin Hansen (eccentric), Paul Telfer (eccentric), Kevin O'Connell (dope) and Allison Wilke (useless).
Such a purge leaves behind eight people.

After ranking David Morrell (the former City Missioner and a sitting Board member) and Neville Bennett (who wrote good columns), I just went through the list alphabetically. Hence I voted for Rod Cameron, Alister James, Jo Kane, Kathryn McIlraith and Felicity Price, leaving Peter Stocks out in the cold. Sorry about that, Pete.

Voting: the Fendalton Waimairi Ward

After due deliberation of the list of candidates and consultation of the entrails, I'm voting for Mike Wall and Mark Kunnen. My observations on the candidates are:

Sally Buck Making It Happen - Independent One of the two incumbents. She is the sister of the previous Mayor, Vicki Buck, and, as far as I am concerned, got elected on her name. Largely invisible in council deliberations.

Faimeh Burke Christchurch 2021 Wife of Kerry Burke. Technically as he's a sir, she actually is Lady Faimeh Burke but flaunting that title wouldn't go down well for a council seat. Her blurb doesn't have anything about her Iranian origins which would have gone down well in Avonhead.

Michel Counch Christchurch 2021 An arts student and a student politician. As a matter of principle, I don't vote for people that have no experience with the real world.

Pat Harrow Independent Citizens One of the two sitting councillors. His blurb mentions the fact that he went to Christchurch Boys High but spoils the effect by also mentioning that he went to Lincoln College. The main reason why I'm against him is that his blurb contains a list of policies that he like to do and a list of council positions that he holds but no list of achievements.

Mark Kunnen Postive, Responsible, Accountable I've know Mark ever since school. In the beginning, he was a bit naive as I recall him saying how great National was in the dying days of the Muldoon government. At university, he managed to get himself elected Services Officer but he resigned after refusing to apologize to GUSS (Gay University Student Society) for calling them "a bunch of weirdos". If he had more acumen then, he could kept his position by pointing out that a number of other clubs (Killing As Organized Sport, Race Against Time Society, Gamers etc) were also weirdos so that GUSS should stop being so sensitive. He's had a couple of embarrassments with the law since then (careless driving and failure to file some tax returns) but nothing serious. But of all the campaigns in the ward, his has been the most prominent and professional.

Mike Wall Independent CitizensChairman of the Community Board and Police Youth Aid Officer. His blurb is good and solid although it's interesting to note that while Pat Harrow's blurb calls for zero tolerance to crime, Mike doesn't say anything.

Gina Williamson Independent Fairly okay. Her campaign photo which features prominently on her placards is a bit unflattering in a Cromwellian warts-and-all kind of way and makes her look amateurish.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Voting: the mayor

Well after studying the voting papers and the accompanying literature as well as consulting the entrails, I have decided to give my vote for Gary Moore even though he can be a jerk at times. The alternatives and my reasons for not supporting them are:

Blair Anderson: Mild Greens. No way do I want to waste my vote on a legalize pot dope. Even his blurb makes no sense. What on earth is one meant to make of the following?
There is duty of care supporting equitable advocacy and concern for minority stakeholders in our social order. Evidence is core in the contest of ideas.

The governance and politics of the vices that underpin civil society. Prostitution, Gambling, Alcohol and Smoke Free are obvious ones but so to is illicit drug policy.
The first sentence is pretentious waffle, the second uses "core" bizarrely while the the third is simply incomplete. The blah blah blah of the vices that blah blah what? As for the remainder, I find the reasoning behind the sentences deranged. Prostitution is a vice, gambling is a vice and alcohol is a vice. However tobacco and other drugs aren't vices but the efforts to control them are! It could just be that Blair cut too many words out of his blurb before the election officials would print it but then it may just be that he should lay of the dope while writing campaign material in the future.

Kyle Chapman: National Front. We all know he's a skinhead but his blurb, which I must remark is more readable than Anderson's makes hardly any mention of what he really believes. The closest is the following sentence:
I want to show the youth that there are better things to strive for in life
Undoubtedly this involves dressing up in paramilitary uniforms and jackboots, full-armed salutes, chants of "Hail Kyle" and beating up asians?

Jamie Gough: Our Christchurch - Our Pride. This jerk is full of himself. Not only is he too young to stop using anti-acne medication but his blurb states that he is descended from a wealthy family, that he was educated at Medbury and Christ College, that he's swotting for a pilot's license and that he's writing for some obscure magazine.

Michael Hansen: Economic Euthenic An eccentric that has been campaigning for as long as I can remember. His most famous promise was to ensure that Santa visit kids four times a year. His blurb is some daft rates proposal but the following sentence gives a gist of what he's like:
The use of a stingray, and a tingleray at election meetings and a very hot ray which can pass through walls is not acceptable, candidates should have the use of a Council car.

Aaron Keown: Independent Makes a reasonable blurb and there's nothing to suggest that he's a nutter or even odd. However I think he would have to make a name for himself on the council before he can seriously aspire to the mayoralty.

Sam Kingi: Anti-Captialist AllianceHis blurb starts as a amassive tour-de-force:
The ruling rich of the world are currently waging two wars. One is against the masses of the Third World, for instance through the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The other is against workers at home, through holding down our wages and attacking our overall living standards and rights.

Workers need to unite across boundaries of nation, race, gender and sexuality and fight for our rights as workers here and around the world. In NZ, we should support our fellow workers overseas fighting Western occupation and plunder of their countries and we should fight lay-offs and unemployment, low pay and all forms of inequality here in this country.
The poor sod's so deluded that he thinks Al-Qai'da, the Taliban and Ansur-i-Islam are manifestations of the third world working class which we should unite with. But I wonder why he bothers distinguishing between gender and sexuality?

Bob Nimmo Another independant. The blurb is too much about himself and not about his policies or intentions. I should add that since he has something to say about himself, he doesn't come across as wretchedly narcissistic as Jamie Gough.

Paul Telfer: U-ACT Another eccentric but this time with a bit of a nasty streak. He tried to pass himself of as an affliliate of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party at the last mayoral elections and was involved in a punch-up of sorts.

Annalucia Vermunt: Communist League Our perennial communist candidate returns but I do wonder why she was not able to run as part of the Anti-Capitalist Alliance? Looking at her blurb, I see that she that she has more concrete proposals than the Anti-Capitalists
such as:
I support worker's rights to organise unions.
I back efforts to unite working people to fight for: Jobs for all - For a massive public works programme; Support Maori rights to foreshore and seabed; Stop immigration deportations; Fight police brutality; Defend a woman's right to choose abortion; Debt relief for working farmers.
Ordinary people could agree with some of these proposals if they weren't aware that she was running as a communist. Has somebody ever suggested that running as a crypto-communist might get her more votes? Other proposals are slightly out-of-touch such as debt relief for working farmers because farmers aren't heavily indebted and they aren't a major voting block for the Christchurch City. But she does mix her semi-credible proposals with downright loopiness such as:
I oppose US and NZ military interventions against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hands of Cuba, Venezuela, Sudan.
I oppose Washington's and Wellington's drive to prevent Iran and north Korea developing needed energy sources.
I'm for a workers and farmers government that will abolish capitalism in NZ and join in the worldwide struggle for Socialism.
Last time around she was ranting against our involvement in East Timor and Bosnia so she does make the effort to keep up with current affairs. But I do want to know why she considers that Iran, a major oil producer, needs to develop nuclear power.

Council election stunts

Councillor Denis O'Rourke has named the candidate that has name suppression over a private prosecution for murder. Since Denis is on the verge of being kicked out due to the massive reduction in council seats and his own personal unpopularity, is he naming the candidate only as a matter of principle? Or is he trying to kinghit a competitor that might take his council seat? A quick perusual of the list of candidates for the Hagley-Ferrymead Ward reveals a name of a well-known person with a history of antagonism not only to O'Rourke, but also to the mayor Gary Moore who has also called for the candidate to either come clean or name himself. Matters were so bad between the two that during his first term, Gary called the candidate a "wanker" during a council meeting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Astrid is acquitted

Astrid Anderson has won her appeal against a criminal nuisance conviction. This had resulted after a woman was killed in a race that she had organized and the death was attributable to errors that she had committed, namely conveying the impression that a road was closed to outside traffic when it was not. She had fought this case tooth and nail, purportedly on the grounds that her conviction would deter anybody else from organizing a sports race. Since her conviction did not deter her from organizing the same race again, it's a good question of how well she believed what she was saying.

However the interesting thing about this case for me is that she won her appeal on the grounds that the standard for criminal nuisance should be recklessness rather than negligence. This is almost certainly based on the precedent of Derek Powell who killed a woman while driving through a picket. Despite this being a fairly famous case that had happened the previous year and was big news locally, neither the Judge nor Astrid's lawyers at the original trial seemed to be aware of the precedent. My confidence in the calibre of Christchurch's legal system is somewhat shaken.

UPDATE: Having now read the judgement (as opposed to leaping from conclusions from TV reports), I'll have to make a couple of corrections. Powell isn't a precedent and Astrid's lawyers did unsuccessfully make the case at the original trial that the standard should have been recklessness. So the interesting point of my post isn't.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Some free advice for Helen

Both John Tamihere and Clayton Cosgrove have apparently made threats to resign their posts if George Hawkins is ousted from Cabinet. If these threats are true and that's a big if, then the best course of action would be to find John's price and give it to him. Then Helen can sack George with the added pleasure of watching Clayton resign.

I'm left wondering why they would made this threat at all or even convey the impression of having made one. George is in Cabinet primarily because he's in the "right" faction and does some good in mediating differences within the Cabinet. He is not an effective minister and for that reason holds portfolios in which he can do little damage (such as the Police whose professionalism makes the need for a minister redundant). Even then, he has still managed to bungle matters, such as the Leaky Buildings affair, making Clayton's comment that George is a "damned good performing minister" somewhat bizzare.

If George were to be dismissed, then his replacement would be from somebody else in the right faction, such as Damien O'Connor. While this would make little difference for John, Clayton could expect a promotion as a result (assuming that Helen doesn't snub him yet again). John's threat or pseudo-threat could be interpreted as sympathy for somebody who has mediated between him and Helen but Clayton's actions looks completely deranged.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Another Damascene conversion

Seeing his confederate's cry of despair, Finlay McDonald the erstwhile editor of the Listener feels bold enough to put his own brave face on the forthcoming presidential elections.

Although the column is Finlay's usual lengthy waffle of half-truths and wishful thinking (which is undoubtedly why the Sunday Star Times has not put his column up on the web), two things mark it out. The first is the title:
Why a vote for Bush is a vote for world peace
and second is the conclusion:
Paradoxically, four more years of Bush might well be the lesser evil in the long run.
When one considers that Finlay was Editor of the Listener when it had treated the events of September 11th as America's fault, these words are a Damascene conversion. What has brought this about? Quite frankly, like Gordon, Finlay has despaired of John Kerry's ability to win the election (describing him as "about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" and quoting with approval Gore Vidal's quip that Kerry is reminiscent of "Abraham Lincoln... after the assassination"). The column is thus Finlay's attempt to find a silver lining in what he considers to be the equivalent of Hurricane Ivan.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Death Threats and Local Government

Revealed today was the news that an unnamed candidate for a local government seat is facing a private prosecution for making two death threats in 1996. We don't know who he is because his name has been suppressed and the case won't come to trial until after the elections.

The list of possible suspects can be whittled down. Since Gary Moore has urged the defendant to either come clean or withdraw from the race, I get the impression that the mayor believes the candidate has a good chance of becoming elected. The long delay between the incidents and the private prosecution indicates that the defendant wasn't running in the previous local body election. Likewise the information that the dispute was business related rules out quite a few people such as the mayoral suspects Sam Kingi (anti-capitalist) and Kyle Chapman (too thick).

However the case itself seems fairly trivial as the police have already investigated the complaint and declined to prosecute. Furthermore if the circumstances were so bad, then why is the private prosecution being launched now and not in 1996? It seems to me to be dirty tricks more than anything else.

Friday, September 17, 2004

A sufficient sentence?

Concern has been raised that Edwards' nine year sentence was too light. However the Judge gave his reasoning for the sentence in his decision which is available online.

According to the Court of Appeal, the best guidelines for appropriate manslaughter sentences in this country are found in the sentences for similar cases of manslaughter. The Crown sought a sentence of eight to twelve years while the Defence pleaded for four to five years. Judge Frater accordingly relied on the following cases, namely the Rota and Ali cases.

The Ali case concerned a youth killing his uncle after the latter made improper advances towards him. Ali was sentenced to three years (the prosecution sought six, the defence two). However the lightness of that sentence was due to Ali's youth (he was sixteen at the time), his character ("inexperienced and naive") and his lack of previous convictions, none of which are applicable to Edwards (who was 24, streetwise with 56 previous convictions).

I can't find much on the Rota case as the sentencing occurred in 1997. I assume from the suggested sentence by Edwards' lawyer that it was no more than four years. The relationship between the deceased and Rota was said by Judge Frater in her decision to be very similar. However Rota was also 19 at the time and had no previous convictions and so the sentence he received was not applicable to Edwards.

Aggravating the case were 1) the degree of violence used (forty blows to the head) 2) attempted strangulation 3) that the offence was committed while Edwards still subject to a sentence (technically this wasn't parole) 4) that Edwards committed the offence while he had just been released 5) the lack of attempt to call for help and 6) the theft of McNee's possessions. As a result, the Judge decided that the appropriate starting point was 10 to 11 years and took a little bit of time for Edwards' background (dire) and his limited remorse (The pre-sentence report indicated that Edwards felt no empathy for the victim and was more sorry for himself, as the wronged person).

Since the sentence is roughly what the Crown asked for, I don't see any prospect of an appeal.

Cereal-maker reveals lack of knowledge

After the National Business Review published a hostile investigative report on him (of which an article is here), Dick Hubbard angrily responded:

"That's gutter journalism, and you just don't expect that of a business publication such as the National Business Review," says Hubbard.

Come again? The NBR has engaged in gutter journalism and the like for as I can remember. That is why business people read it. If Dick Hubbard didn't know what the NBR was like until now, then that says a lot about his interactions with the business community.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Seabed Judicial Review: the aftermath

It's been two days since I last blogged on this topic and I am still no clearer on what happened. The anticipated questions in the house never materialized because either it passed Turia by (improbable as some other MPs have commented on the topic) or that people are waiting for Margaret Wilson to turn up. In any case, some mighty odd statements are being bandied about.

In the Press the next morning, the NZPA report that I referred to earlier, had the additional information that:

NZPA understands the appointment of a new judge is the court's response to the government seeking a judicial review and the Crown now believes a fresh look will be taken at whether the claim should get a substantive hearing.

Has the NZPA never heard of the principle of Judicial Independence? The NZ Herald clarifies where the drivel is coming from:

[Margaret Wilson's] spokeswoman said the invitation for the Crown to file a new adjournment application with Judge Milroy was behind the decision to drop the judicial review against Judge Wickliffe.

"It believes the legal principle behind the review is now being addressed, i.e. a judge with no legal bias is now hearing the claims."

Lovely ambiguity. Who invited the Crown to file a new adjournment application? I could have sworn there was another news item yesterday that reporting the allegation that the Judicial Review was a delaying tactic because the new Judge also had Ngai Porou descent (the original grounds for Judge Wickliffe to recuse herself). Since it has disappeared and Judge Milroy's allegiances are with the Tuhoe and the Ngai Whakaue, it seems that the allegation was hurriedly retracted once its falsity was pointed out. It's a shame that CBS couldn't be so quick.

The Edwards case: the sentencing

Edwards was sent down today for nine years with half of his sentence to be served before he becomes eligible for parole. Although the Solicitor General could appeal to have the sentence increased, the sentence is at the heavier range for manslaughter sentences although significantly below the normal minimum for murder (which was life with a non-parole period of ten years).

Since Edwards was sentenced, the police were now able to comment about the case and several details that had been revealed - namely that Edwards had been convicted of taking McNee's car a few years ago and that Edwards was involved in an attack at Morningside that went unprosecuted. The main points are:

1) The case was handled appropriately and free of third-party influence.

2) There was no evidence that McNee and Edwards knew each other before the night of the killings (this arose because Peters revealed in the house that Edwards had stolen McNee's car a few years ago).

3) They are convinced that offences occurred at Morningside and that the complainant was the victim (kudos to their careful phrasing).

4) Edwards was identified by DNA but the victim decided not to take the matter further.

5) The police, fearful of the victim's safety, questioned Edwards. He refused to talk on the record and so the police questioned him without a caution (making any statements inadmissable in court). As a result of this, Edwards admitted being there but his statement was at variance with the complainant's complaint. In what way the police won't say but in light of the McNee killing, it is probable that neither statement was the whole truth.

6) As a result of Edward's confession, the police issued him with a trespass order banning him from the Morningside property.

Now I have had concerns with the police handling of the Morningside incident but I am relieved to say they are alleviated by their statement. It's to clear that the police didn't drop the case after the witness said he wouldn't testify but did their best to push the matter further. Since neither the witness or Edwards would actually say what had happened, the police did not have any idea what really happened then until Edwards was on trial for the McNee killing. Hence their actions while not ideal with hindsight (I've said before that the Parole Board could have been informed) were nevertheless explicable and reasonable.

On a sad note, the wife of the Morningside victim is suing the Herald for defamation on the grounds that they reported Winston Peters statements about the Morningside attack. Although it's not exactly clear what defamatory statements she is suing about (is it the attack itself or the allegation of a coverup?), it seems to me that she is in denial about the circumstances of the attack. I can only hope that her lawyer is wise enough to reach a satisfactory resolution without exposing her further to public humiliation.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Seabed Judicial Review lost at sea?

Capital Diary cites an NZPA report that the Government has dropped its judicial review against Judge Wickliffe. The original decision to pursue the review had caused me some bewilderment.

So why has the Government dropped the Judicial Review? According to Margaret Wilson, it's because:
"The High Court judicial review was based on the legal principle that judges must recuse (stand aside) themselves from all hearings where there is an appearance of bias. Judge Milroy's appointment eliminates the basis of that application," she said.

But Judge Wickliffe had already recused herself after making the decision that angered the Government! The Maori Land Court was bound to appoint a new Judge even if a Judicial Review was never announced! The purpose of the review was to try to overturn Wickliffe's decision to allow a seabed and foreshore claim to go ahead. And now that has been dropped, her decision stands.

Margaret Wilson then denies what I suspected at the time the judicial review was initiated:
"I would like to reiterate that the review of Judge Wickliffe's March decision was taken by the Crown. It was not based on a personal decision of mine nor was it a personal attack on Caren Wickliffe.

As the advertisments for Tui beer put it, "Yeah, right". When questioned in the House about this case, Turia had phrased the question:
When was the last time an Attorney-General sought judicial review of a decision of a judge in the Māori Land Court?

Phill Goff, who answered on her behalf, did not even attempt to deny that Margaret Wilson initiated the action and instead claimed she had done so "out of principle". Given that the first clause of Wilson's denial is a Lianne Dazielesque lie, the second is also likely to be.

What could have caused the Government to call off the action? It can't be resistance within the Solictor-General's Office because that was almost certainly due to the delay in instigating the Judicial Review (the original decision was made in March, Turia's question is in September). Likewise the weakness of the government's case becoming apparent can't have been the answer as it surely must have been obvious to the Solicitor-General the minute he looked at the details.

I can only assume that because of the short period of time between Turia raising the matter in the house and the dropping of the case (just under two weeks), that Margaret Wilson initiated the action without informing the rest of the Cabinet. Thus when Turia raised the matter, it was brought to the Government's attention and they spend the next two weeks looking for some excuse to quietly kill the review.

I await with interest to see what happens during Question Time in the House tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Headlines I'd never thought I'd see...

The ERA strikes again...

Alison Annan, the controversial principal of Cambridge High, publicly announced her resignation and had it accepted by the Board. Now she has gotten her job back as the result of an decision by the Employment Relations Authority. The report seems to think that she won reinstatment on the grounds that her original decision to resign was merely only a declaration of intention to resign and that she never actually resigned.

However on fuller examination, her lawyer, being more rational, merely argued that her dismissal was constructive. The authority has accepted her laywer's submissions as "arguable" and a result ordered her interim reinstatement until a full hearing in October. This makes the authority's actions somewhat more credible and as a condition of her reinstatement, she is not allowed near the school unless the Commissioner asks her to (which the Commissioner has said won't happen).

However the result of Annan's initial legal success has gone to her head. Before she only wanted reinstatement so that she could respond to the ERO report. Now it's:

"I am determined to prove at the full hearing that I should be restored to my full duties as principal of Cambridge High School," said Mrs Annan.

"I believe that the best interests of the school will be served by my return. I am confident that I can work with the Commissioner and a new Board."

While I have a low opinion of the ERA, I doubt that they are so witless as to order a full reinstatement.

This week's Listener editorial

Gordon Campbell hijacks the editorial column to engage in a lengthy cry of despair because Bush is certain to be re-elected. While I won't be cheerfully counting chickens quite so early, I should note that I wholeheartedly agree with his analysis of what the Democrats' problem is:

In a year when almost anyone could have beaten Bush, the Democrats have succeeded in selecting one of the most unappealing candidates in living memory – a pale, haughty cadaver from the same political mortuary that gave us Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale in years gone by.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The next governor general?

The Sunday Star Times engages in speculation about who the next Governor General would be. However for the list of prospects, the article gave along with their odds. I added my comments.

Jim Bolger (4:1) - the main problem here is that he's a politician and there's an aversion towards pollies as Heads of State. As Governor General, Keith Holyoake was rather passive because he had been Prime Minister and cautious about political interference. Lastly I'm uncertain whether Spud Jim will be acceptable to the National Party in Parliament given his Kiwibank treachery.

Kiri Te Kanawa (10:1) - My only objection is being a world-renowed prima donna does not quite convey the impression that she has the necessary fibre for the position.

Penny Jamison (10:1) - Another Bishop from the Church of England? Once was unusual but twice looks like favouritism.

Tipene O'Reagan (12:1) - Two objections: a history of "sharp" business practices and the suspicion that he will use his position to routinely snub non-Kai Tahu Maoris.

Mike Moore (15:1) - Another pollie. The only problem is that Governer-Generals are required to give coherent speechs from time to time.

Brian Lochore (18:1) - I don't think Helen would be too enthused about picking a rugby legend.

Geoffery Palmer (20:1) - Yet another pollie. Has a mantle of Ivory-Tower aloofness that cannot be removed.

Doug Graham (20:1) - Still another pollie. I actually think his chances are better than Geoffery's considering that he's conservative and went to bat for the Treaty settlements.

Sukhi Turner (20:1) - Too extreme. Her politics are Alliance rather than Labour and her abrasiveness does not mix well with the post of Governor-General. But then again, Cath Tizard reportedly swore a lot...

Kenneth Keith (20:1) - "Connections to the Liberal Left" make him a contender? More likely they would be the kiss of death.

David Lange (25:1) - Unwell and unlikely to improve. He also acquired bad mana from his time as Prime Minister but that's probably faded.

Sir Ivor Richardson (25:1) - Another Judge. Look, the only reason they appointed Hardie-Boys was because an image of stability was felt to be necessary during the adoption of MMP. Since the fear of turbulence has passed, there's little need to appoint another Judge.

Stephen Tindall (30:1) - I've a feeling that his reign would mirror the quality of his merchandise - loud, cheap, brashly merchandized but before long, you are looking for a replacement.

Fran Wilde (30:1) - A figure of some respectability during the Lange government and a reasonable mayor (I could be wrong). The only problem is that her relative silence since then means she's an unknown throughout much of the country. What is she doing anyway?

Sir Robert Jones (30:1) - I don't think a pugilistic in-your-face attitude is compatible with being a Governor General.

Sian Elias (30:1) - You do know that she once made political controversy by challenging the basis of parliamentary sovereignity? A Prime Minister that appoints her needs to be committed.

Dick Hubbard (40:1) - Not a chance. He's still learning the ropes of running for public office and has yet to make his mark in Auckland.

Robin Cooke (40:1) - The Evil One whose reign of activism on the Court of Appeal caused acute apoplexy and hypertension of the governments of the time? Whose insidious doctrines have inspired Sian Elias? Well for starters, he's too old.

Edmund Hillary (50:1) - Too old.

Jenny Shipley (50:1) - Another pollie. Why is she way down the list compared
to Lange and Palmer?

Ron Trotter (50:1) - Too close to the boardrooms for the public liking.

Prince Edward (50:1) - Not bright and not born here. Why him and not Prince
Andrew who at least taught here?

Tim Shadbolt (50:1) - Not serious enough.

Jonathan Hunt (100:1) - He's getting bored

Titewhai Harawira (10,000:1) - Has criminal convictions for beating up mental patients. I don't think Helen would even think about someone who made her cry in public.

For what it's worth, the article screws up when it claims that Governor-Generals are "traditionally recruited from the senior judiciary". Nonsense. The following is a list of New Zealand born Governor-Generals and their highest rank prior to appointment:

Sir Arthur Porritt (1967-1972), Surgeon
Sir Denis Blundell (1972- 1977), Lawyer
Sir Keith Holyoake (1977-1980), Prime Minister
Sir David Beattie (1980-1985), Supreme Court Judge
Sir Paul Reeves (1985-1990), Anglican Primate
Dame Catherine Tizard (1990-1996), Mayor of Auckland
Sir Michael Hardie Boys (1996-2001), Appeal Court Judge

Before then, the Governors were a mixture of UK Peers and military men.

A question that probably shouldn't be answered...

One News had a saccharine news story about a woman who has donated her kidney to her fiance as a sign of her love. What I was wondering was if they split up, does she get the kidney back?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Council Poster Vandalism

Some anti-nuclear group has been vandalizing the election posters by painting nuclear logos on them. They were obviously arts students as the posters concerned were all in the vicinity of the university and the defacement was indiscriminate, regardless of what the candidate was standing for. They had even defaced a picture of David Morrell, chiefly known for his work with the City Mission and a candidate for the district health board. Further evidence of their idiocy is that a poster for Faimeh Burke, wife of Kerry who had voted for the controversial motion, lay only a block away but was untouched.

As for that motion, the fallout is still continuing. Kerry Burke wrote to the Press this week stating that he was against Nuclear Power and that the whole thing was a beatup. A letter-writer has responded today by quoting the original Press report on the mistaken belief that it was the actual wording of the motion. If ECan doesn't get the message out soon, the board is going to be slaughtered in the Elections.

Winston gets Red-Carded

In an effort to make political capital over the McNee killing, Winston Peters has gotten himself named in parliament. Since this is his second naming in the current session, he is grounded for a week.

Hopefully Winston will use his free time productively, like thinking of a rational explanation for what went on. As it is, his feverished imagination has not only lead him to declare that the Police Minister, George Hawkins, is involved in a cover-up (which is ludicrous because George wouldn't know where to start) but also to declare that the Speaker, Jonathan Hunt, is colluding in the matter!

More realistically, Winston will just use his free time at Courtney Place getting drunk and arguing over the fare with immigrant taxi-drivers.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Council Election Posters

While general elections have long had problems with people tearing down other people's posters, I've never seen it happen in council elections. Until now that is. Just up the corner from where I live, Sally Buck's poster has been taken down twice while the citizen's poster (for Pat Harrow and Mike Wall) have been left untouched. The only reason that I can think of for the affair is the CoolIT rort that Vicki Buck, Sally's sister and former mayor, was involved in. Since Sally got elected solely on the back of her sister, somebody seems to think it fair comeback.

Also on the same note, Mark Kunnen seems to be knocking on a lot of doors. On a nearby stretch of road, literally every second house is displaying a Mark Kunnen poster. Although the number of houses is only four or five, that's a level of placing that I've never seen before in any election.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Who shall Judge the Judges?

Something strange was revealed in the house today. The government is pursuing a Judicial Review of a decision made by a Maori Land Court Judge. They are claiming this has been done before but they can't say when the last case was and I know the standard procedure is an appeal on a matter of law, rather than a judicial review. Since the government hasn't tried to depict it as an appeal on a matter of law, the step seems rather unusual.

The case in question is pretty straight-forward. Judge Wickliffe was asked to rule on a claim for the seabed and foreshore for a tribe with whom she had some connections. The government wanted the case thrown out as the seabed and foreshore bill will remove the Maori Land Court's ability to hear such claims. Since the bill hasn't been passed yet, Wickliffe allowed the case to proceed and then recused herself. The government's position is that she should have recused herself first.

The thing that strikes me is that even if the Government is correct, so what? Her decision to allow the case to proceed was still a correct one as the Judiciary is obliged to follow the law as it currently stands rather than what the Government intends it to be (Fitzgerald vs Muldoon 1976). As a delaying tactic, it's rather extreme in that the Solicitor General could easily think of half a dozen more innocuous excuses to prevent the case from being heard until after the bill was passed.

The only theory that makes sense to me is that the Government is out to punish Judge Wickliffe by getting a judicial review that was critical of her actions. If one was obtained, she might be obliged to resign as has happened in the case of the Inspector General for the SIS over the Zaoui case. While there are valid complaints about the Maori Land Court, this is still a rather extreme way of settling scores.