Saturday, October 30, 2004

How stupid is our Chief Justice?

The Herald reports that Sian Elias didn't know that her criticisms about the Prime Minister's constitutional ignorance were going to be reported. This might have been tolerable except that after the earlier public scuffle, the damage control spin was:
It appears unlikely that Dame Sian or the two other Supreme Court judges who appeared in May before the House of Commons constitutional committee, Justice Kenneth Keith and Justice Thomas Gault, knew the cross-examination of their evidence was to be publicly posted verbatim.
While it may be constitutionally improper to have the Chief Justice's speeches vetted by the Beehive's Ninth Floor, I can't help thinking that idea has its mertis.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sian Elias wakes sleeping dogs.

Sian Elias, the injudicious Chief Justice, has decided not to let sleeping dogs lie and reopened a row between her and the Labour Government. In particular, she stated:
I spoke out on the issue of institutional independence in New Zealand, and our Prime Minister said I should have gone to the Governor-General or Attorney-General.

That indicates a profound lack of understanding about judicial independence and our constitutional arrangements and is, I suspect, quite a widespread view.
Two things spring to mind upon reading this self-serving prose.

The first is that a Chief Justice, who had previously made a fool of herself by attacking parliamentary sovereignity, should have known better to accuse other people of constitutional ignorance.

The second is that what Helen Clark was annoyed about was that the Chief Justice first refused to share her concerns with the government because "of [her] view that communication between judiciary and the executive and Parliament needs to be formal and needs to be public" and then spelled out those concerns to a House of Lords Select Committee. If the Supreme Court is ever called upon to study employment legislation, Sian Elias should recuse herself because she clearly has no idea what the concept of bargaining in "Good Faith" is about.

And the issue that sparked off this imbroglio? Sian is concerned that because there is a convention that Judges do not return to private practice after they retire (I guess somebody forgot to tell Michael Guest), their superannuation is onerous (the government currently pays $68,750 a year to the judge's super fund) and they have to retire "early" (at the age of 68) and so are unable to afford gold-plated toilet paper in their retirement.

Why is this so bad? She gives two reasons:
1. Retired Judges will be reduced to taking on jobs from the government and thus be eager to stay in their good books (which has always been the case - when Peter Mahon annoyed Muldoon about the Erebus tragedy, he wrote books in his retirement partly for financial reasons).

2. The lack of financial security means that some lawyers are turning down the opportunity of becoming Judges (never mind the fact that this has always been the case).
For Sian to place additional stress on the already poor relationship between the judiciary and the government in a squalid dispute about money only raises the following question in my mind: how is the superannuation scheme of her husband, Hugh Fletcher, holding out?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Good News from the Middle East

Two pieces of Good News from the Middle East within the same day. Firstly Israel has voted to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Kudos, Ariel. Secondly Yasser Arafat is "very, very sick". Adios, Yasser.


Nature has just revealed the existence of Flores Man, a new species of hominid. Notable about the new species is that the adults were only a metre high, had a chimpanzee-sized brain and probably descended from Homo erectus. What is mind-boggling is that the remains date back only 18,000 years. The last known Neantherthals lived about 30,000 years ago and they were a subspecies of Homo sapiens, which was a successor to Homo erectus. The new find is thought to give veracity to Indonesian traditions about the little people. What appeals most to me, being a recovering Lords of the Rings fanatic, is the imagery of Hobbits being devoured by a Komodo dragon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

You can tell the US elections are near when...

...the first two leading news articles on One News were about issues involved with the US presidential elections. One News has been relentless presenting them as Good News for Kerry, which makes me wonder if the News-reader will burst into tears in case of a Bush Win.

The first news item was about the 380 tons of high grade explosives that are now missing because the Bush Administration was negligent in setting up guards to cover Iraqi arms depot while the second was about Bill Clinton finally campaigning for Kerry. Unfortunately the news item they showed about the missing explosives was the latest word from NBC news. This actually said the explosives were already missing when the American troops got there! The end result was certainly balanced but it also had the effect of making One News look like morons.

Antonin Scalia visits

The Supreme Court Judge, Antonin Scalia, has just given a speech today in Auckland. Although well known in the states for his conservate views, he is almost a judge from another planet here due to his implacable opposition to judicial activism, the favourite doctrine of the Dark Lord of Thorndon and still prevalant among our judiciary.

While my own politics are much more liberal than Scalia's and I believe there is some place for judicial activist decisions, it is my belief that the judges of New Zealand have taken the doctrine too far thereby causing strained relations between Parliament and the Judiciary. Chief among the culprits is our very own Chief Justice, Sian Elias, whose decisions have been less than wise. It is with that that I found the following paragraph interesting:
He had a private meeting with New Zealand's Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, before his address yesterday. They talked, he said later, about courts' common problems.
I wonder what he would have thought about some of her past utterings, such as challenging parliamentary sovereignity and criticizing our government to the British?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

David Lange: Reluctant Revolutionary

I was watching Tom Scott's documentary "Reluctant Revolutionary" about David Lange tonight on TV. It was quite an informative and balanced program with one or two surprises. One of these, I have already blogged on before, while another - that David Lange was drinking too heavily for his own good at the start of his second term - was an eye-opener. Unfortunately the incidents weren't described because David is still alive.

The most poignant moment for me was the Oxford Union Debate, David Lange's finest hour. I watched it live then and cheered for David as he condemned at great length the American attempts to force New Zealand to accept nuclear armed warships. The poignancy of this moment is that I now know that this was one Big Lie. The Americans had actually bent over backwards to accommodate us by proposing the visit of the non-nuclear armed USS Buchanan but we had shat on their faces by turning it down.

Also new were some of the details of Lange's bad faith in his war against Roger Douglas (i.e. unilaterally pulling the plug on the flat tax package while Douglas was overseas despite having promised to Cabinet that he would hold off any action until he had discussed the matter when Roger returned). What was most interesting for me was Margaret Pope, who worked her way from Lange's speechwriter to become his mistress and finally his wife. She spoke at great length about the politics of the time and her actions therein, but she did not show any insight about her impropriety in influencing David's decisions.

The funniest anecdote was Prebble upon hearing the rumours that Lange is having an affair with Margaret. He tells Lange that if he is having an affair than he should transfer Margaret onto another position. On the other hand, if David wasn't having an affair then he should fire Margaret anyway because his last three speeches were just crap. David told Margaret about it and that was the end of a Beautiful Friendship.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Zaoui and Zundel: something in common?

I've not blogged on the legal mess that is the Zaoui case before because all that have happened since I started blogging are pointless court cases. But now I have something exciting to report.

Ahmed Zaoui is a former Algerian MP that belonged to the FIS, the Islamic Salvation Front. When the Algerian Civil War broke out, Zaoui made his way to Belgium where he became unwisely involved with the GIA, the Armed Islamic Group. He was convicted in Belgium of crimes related to supporting members of the GIA in their murderous terror campaign in France. He escaped from house arrest in Belgium and ended up detained in Switzerland with access denied to a phone, fax machine or computer. He appealed against these communication restrictions to the European Court of Human Rights but was abruptly turned down. The Swiss arranged for Zaoui to go into exile in Burkina Faso. While he lived in Burkina Faso, the French courts had convicted in absentia of crimes similar to those that he was already convicted for in Belgium. Ahmed then left Burkina Faso and spent three years in Malaysia. From there, he went to Vietnam whereupon he boarded a flight here and applied for refugee status.

Because of Ahemd's criminal convictions in both France and Belgium, he would not normally be eligible for refugee status. However when he appealed his denial of refugee status to the RSAA (the Refugee Status Appeal Authority), Ahmed had become a cause célèbre by the Greens and Civil Liberty Groups. In seeking support for his status, they submitted evidence that purported to show that Ahmed's convictions were a sham by corrupt governments that were seeking to punish moderate members of the FIS. This evidence was little more than a libel which made a big deal about unusual features of Zaoui's trials. The RSAA accepted these libels at face value because they did not realize that the alleged unusual features were in fact standard court procedure on the continent. Hence Ahmed's appeal was allowed and he became a refugee. The government could have applied for a judicial review of the RSAA's decision but decided against it because judging by what Paul Swain has said in the House, the review can only consider the original evidence placed before it and nothing else.

However Ahmed Zaoui was not released because the SIS had issued a security risk certificate, which declares that he is a threat to the national security of New Zealand. It did this on the basis of information given to it by other unnamed security services but an educated guess on their identity would be the French, the Belgians and the Swiss. If the Inspector General of the SIS (a retired high court judge) upholds the certificate then Zaoui can be deported. Practically every sane poltician believes that Zaoui should be "outski" (to use Laurie Grieg's words) because of his criminal convictions. Ahmed now waits in prison while legal wrangling continues (the pointless court cases that I mentioned before) about the terms and references of the security risk assessment. The Greens, Amnesty International and others are outraged because of the police state imagery of a person confined without a trial to be deported on the basis of evidence that he will never see. The fact that Zaoui is only detained because he choses to remain here is rarely mentioned; if he expressed the wish to go to Vietnam tomorrow, the government would pull out all the stops to ensure that he was on the next plane there.

However a similar case is occuring in Canada. Ernst Zundël has been in prison for eighteen months while the Canadian Government goes through the process of expelling him to Germany. The procedure that the Canadians are using? The Security Certificate! The procedure is slightly different but both Ernst Zundel and Ahmed Zaoui are being kept in prison on the grounds that they are national security risks on the basis of evidence they will never see. So why haven't people made a fuss about Ernst Zundel here and denounced Canada as a Fascist Police State? Is it because he's a Holocaust Denier? Surely what's good for the Zundël is good for the Zaoui?

Some might object that the Algerian government has sentenced Zaoui to death in absentia. However that sentence was passed before the 1999 amnesty which some sixty thousand blood-stained terrorists (about 85% of the strength of the GIA at the time) took up. So if Ahmed Zaoui asked nicely, he could get the death sentence waived and return home.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The SIS under the bed?

One News reported today that in 1986 the SIS informed Rod Dean, who had just become the State Services Commissioner, that David Lange, then Prime Minister, was having an affair with Magaret Pope. The affair didn't become public knowledge until 1989 when Naomi Lange had an on-the-record breakdown over the phone to an attentive journalist. Apart from possibly sending a shiver down the spine of a person whom I will not name, the story raises a number of interesting questions:

1. It's common knowledge now that in late 1987 Lange turned against Roger Douglas, his finance minister, because of the growing influence of Margaret Pope. That they were having an affair in or before 1986 makes one wonder whether Lange had turned against Douglas then when things were going hummingly and was just plucking up the courage to stab him in the back.

2. Just how did the SIS find out? I doubt they had an informer in Lange's office or a field agent under the bed. If they had picked it up through gossip then I would have expected articles about Margaret's influence before Lange and Douglas fell out as the journalists always find a way to make subtle hints about it in their articles (a case in point - Tom Scott once penned an article called the Schnapps election, which was a reference to Robert Muldoon having been completely and utterly pissed when he declared a snap election. This wasn't made public until after Muldoon had died for fear of defamation proceedings). I can only assume that the SIS received their information from the Police Diplomatic Protection Squad as the two organizations have common interests. For example, if a minister often plays ping-pong with a well-endowned table tennis scholar from China, both organizations have a need to know whether she is a security risk.

Helen Clark has issued a denial that snoping on politician's affairs is just not on the agenda of the SIS. I daresay they keep that sort of thing secret from the politicians so they don't shout it in the House.

The Frank Wood affair

Another Golden Handshake that was being asked about in the House today was that of the erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University, Frank Wood. This was embarassing to the government because the handshake was paid to ensure his early retirement after he had had an affair with an overseas student. The potential for mirth was unresistable:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of State Services: Did the former Lincoln University vice-chancellor who resigned last year receive a golden handshake; if so, what was the value of that payment?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of State Services): I am advised that the total remuneration reported in the recent annual report of the State Services Commissioner included salary from January to October 2003. Other contractual entitlements at the last day of duty end in an ex gratia payment made at the discretion of, and within the authority of, the council of Lincoln University after it had received legal advice. I understand that the council decided to make that payment rather than to pay extended sick leave to someone who had that entitlement. I was briefed on the matter after it became clear that there had been an inappropriate relationship with a student and that—

Judith Collins: Obviously not sick enough. [Interruption]
Of the affair itself, Frank Wood had described it in the Press (in October 2003) as being all about table-tennis (the student was a chinese table tennis scholar) apart from one brief, isolated incident. In other words, the athletic duo consumated their affair on the ping-pong table.

A thought about the Tamihere scandal.

For the past three days in the House, Michael Cullen has been trotting out the following argument:
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The one thing that is clear—and nobody has tried to argue this—is that Mr Tamihere received no payment to get rid of him from a job that he was not wanted in.
Let me get this straight.

If the payment wasn't intended to get rid of him, why then did John Tamihere publicly refuse the payment back in 1999?

Monday, October 18, 2004

For those among us who remember SMPs...

How times have changed. From the BBC:
"How is it you are able to farm without subsidies, when so many subsidised farmers in a country like Britain are struggling?"

That was when I became acutely conscious of the hum of the washing machine.

But seeing their nervous glances to one another as they struggled for an answer, it dawned on me that these young New Zealand farmers were not being evasive; they just could not conceptualise what having subsidies might mean.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tamihere asks to go on Leave

Because of revelations about an allegedly tax-free golden handshake received while he was running for Hauraki in 1999, John Tamihere has asked to go on leave while the matter is being investigated. DPF has a succinct summary of the questions involved. One question he does not raise is whether John will have more time to blog?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Crown versus Rich White Wanker et al.

David Richwhite, the well-known merchant banker and erstwhile director of Tranzrail, and several colleagues are up on charges of insider trading relating to their shareholding of Tranzrail. His company bought $31 million worth of shares as part of a consortium in 1993. They sold the stake in 2002 at $3.60 a share to financial institutions for a profit of $87 million with a further $10 million for advisory fees. Shortly afterwards, the share price of Tranzrail sunk like a stone and was trading at 30c a share in the middle of 2003. The Securities Commission press release is here.

If you're wondering how supposedly smart business people could make such an obvious effort of looting the till, the answer is that this is the first case of insider trading being brought by the Securities Commission. Previously it was pretty much open season for insider traders which is why the share-market took so long to recover after 1987.

The charges couldn't come to more deserving people. Richwhite was the business partner of Michael Fay, an obnoxious creep, whose principle claim to fame was that he tried to win the America's Cup through the Courts and expected everybody to kiss his behind for doing so. The Americans paid him back with his own coin by winning the races using a catarmaran. Richwhite was almost invisible by comparison but he was involved in the Winebox affair, which involved dodgy deals in the Cook Islands. He only appeared in the public eye following a cackhanded attempt by his assistant Michelle Boag to film witnesses when they were giving evidence before the Wine Box Inquiry.

The other people charged are Michael Beard (the fat controller of Tranzrail until he received a $3.37 million golden handshake earlier this year for three long years of incompentent management), Mark Bloomer (former chief financial officer of Tranzrail) and Carl Ferenbach (another Tranzrail director).

My only regret is that it is a great pity that the charges don't seem to carry prison sentences.

Poor Chris Carter

As Minister of Local Government and thus responsible for the polling fiascos, he was asked the following questions in the House today:
Heather Roy: Is the Minister not embarrassed that his local body elections using STV have produced such a shambolic result and been outperformed by Afghanistan, which has just had its first election in 5,000 years?
Larry Baldock: Has the Minister considered requesting the services of the United Nations electoral supervisory body once it has completed its task in Afghanistan in order to sort out the electoral botch-up that is affecting numerous local government elections here in New Zealand; if not, what assurances can he give that local government democracy will not be run like the elections in the state of Florida in the future?
Ouch. Ouch.

For what it's worth, Gerry Brownlee did raise an interesting point about whether the Ministry had any contigency plans (which wasn't asked due to the lack of supplementary questions). If there weren't any such plans, Chris now has twenty-four hours to think of a plausible excuse.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The continued uselessness of our vote-counters

It's now been revealed that the results of seven councils are in doubt and may be overturned because the vote-counters, Electionz, failed to process some votes! It could be a week before we know the results and those of the eighteen district health boards. Purportedly the excuse for the long delays being given is "lack of resources". Given the amount of work required to count votes is known and the complexities of STV could have easily been researched by a trip to Oz, I can only conclude that Electionz won their contracts on the basis of false statements in their tender. At the very least before the next election, they should change the name of their company. Based on their performance, I suggest VOTE-BUFFOONZ.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Democracy Watch

In other news, Howard has been returned to power for a fourth term increasing his majority in the house of representatives and possibly the senate as well. It is not yet known how many Taxi-drivers had their arms broken as Mark Latham came to terms with his defeat.

The Afghan election has gone very well with voting progressing peacefully and no sign of any disruption by the Taleban or Al-Qai'da. As Karzai is expected to win, his opponents demonstrated their excellent understanding of democracy etiquette by being sore losers and complaining of vote fraud. The Sunday Star-Times celebrated this happy event by reprinting a sour-grapes article from the Guardian, entitled:
An election is the last thing Afghans need
Surprising news has come through in Fallujah (scroll to bottom). Apparently the insurgents there want to be able to take part in the forthcoming January Elections and are negotiating with the government. Most media are so embaressed by this that they are burying the news underneath the truce in Sadr City.

Our Vote-counters are still useless.

It has been over twenty-four hours since the local government ballot boxes closed. Despite this, we still do not know:
Who got elected to the Canterbury District Health Board,
Who got elected Mayor of Dunedin, and
Who got elected to the Dunedin City Council.
This state of affairs quite frankly is a disgrace. The situation is being blamed on the late surge of votes, which is a pathetic excuse. If they had blurted out the real reason, namely that they couldn't understand STV, that would have provoked adverse comparisons with the inbred Tasmanians who also have STV but still managed to count their votes within three hours.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Environment Canterbury Results

According to the preliminary results, the councillors are:

NORTH: Judy Waters (9,500 votes) and Anne Carrol (8,800 votes).
WEST: Alec Neil (12,800 votes) and Nicky Wagner (12,500 votes).
EAST: Richard Budd (8,500 votes) and Elizabeth Cunningham (7,500 votes).
SOUTH: Kerry Burke (14,800 votes) and Bob Kirk (13,900 votes).

The nuclear resolution hasn't done any damage as far as I can see since both Kerry and Alec were returned with massive votes.

Christchurch Council Election Results

The preliminary election results have finally been released.


Gary Moore won with over 60,000 votes while his nearest rival, one Andrew Keown, only won 10,000 votes. Jamie Gough (who might have a girlfriend called Echo) comes third with 7,000 votes and Bob Nimmo only gets over 3,000 votes. Over 5,500 votes were cast for the no-hopers ranging from Kyle Chapman's 1600 votes down to Martin Hansen's 3,70 votes.


Norm Withers (famous for the Crime Petition) and Gary Condon were returned as Councillors. Dumped was Ingrid Stonehill whose chief claim to fame was quitting 2021 in a huff and firing off a nasty open letter to the Mayor earlier this year. The letter backfired when seventeen other council members publicly wrote a letter of support for Gary. She also tried some dirty tactic such as denouncing a fellow candidate for corrupt practices last week.


Pat Harrow and Sally Buck were returned with 7200 and 6400 votes respectively. Bugger. Mark Kunnen and Mike Wall came third and fourth with a respectable 4700 votes each.


Carol Evans and Gail Sherrif were returned as Councillors with over 6600 votes each. Chrissy Williams was ousted getting just under 5000 votes while her colleague Rob Davidson (Lianne Diazell's husband) came in fifth with 4400 votes (behind Kim Money with 4700 votes).


Helen Broughton was returned with over 7300 votes. This is despite getting a drink driving conviction and being forced to resign from the Road Safety Committee under pressure (having originally refused). Her colleague is one Bob Shearing with over 6000 votes.


Returned were David Cox (5000 votes) and Anna Crighton (4300 votes). What's more interesting is who didn't get in. Robin Booth (prat) came fourth with 2300 votes and the abrasive Denis O'Rourke only got 2200 votes. Perhaps Robin can unwind by getting something off his chest.


Barry Corbett (just under 9500 votes) and Sue Wells (just under 9000) were both returned. Carole Anderton didn't get returned despite a strong showing of 6100 votes. Is this the beginning of the end for her husband, Pope Jim?

Snafu in counting the votes?

Checking the results page at 5:50pm, 50 minutes after they promised the preliminary results would be up yields the following note:
Please note: Preliminary Christchurch City Council election results will be available as soon as they are received. In the meantime, it would be appreciated if candidates and other interested parties could be patient, and refrain from telephoning the electoral officer.
The last sentence makes it sound as if they are cracking under pressure.

UPDATE: It is now 9:05pm and there are still no results. The vote-counters are useless.

A big weekend ahead electorally

This weekend, three elections will be taking place. The Afghanistan Presidential Election, the Australian Federal Election and the New Zealand local government elections.

After a steady diet of doom and gloom about Afghanistan made by the same people that predicted it was a quagmire just before Mazar-e-Sharif fell, the elections will be a welcome bit of good news that they can't ignore. Everybody reckons Karzai will win so I won't make a prediction about that.

The Australian Federal Election is a little more interesting. As a New Zealander, I'm naturally lethargic about who wins in Australia. If it were up to me, I would root for Howard solely on the basis that Mark Latham made a silly promise to bring the troops in Iraq home by Christmas. Even if he really disagreed about going to war, he could have followed Helen Clark's lead and keep troops there on the grounds that they are needed without electoral condemnation. If he had done so, I believe Mark could have defused national security as an election issue. But then again, during the last election Labour agreed with the Coalition on an acute political issue (the Tampa refugees) and still got stomped. Because of that, I think Labour decided to fight about the issue rather than die on their knees. My prediction (although it's just based on the latest polls and nothing else) is that Howard will remain in power.

As for who will win what in the Local Government elections, I have no idea save that Gary Moore will be Mayor of Christchurch.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Gobsmacked at Cambridge High

I downloaded the ERO report on Cambridge High hoping to catch some juicy bits. Although the bland descriptions of poor management have widely been reported, some of the details are just stunning:
Until 2003 the school provided a central school library as the key resource for meeting students’ information and reading needs. Early in 2003, after several months of the library being closed for stocktaking purposes, it was announced that the school library would be closed permanently. After the closure, the library books were dispersed to departments to be set up as classroom libraries. Some books (about 180 non-fiction) were given to the Cambridge Public Library.

ERO report, p20
It gets worse. A Cyber-cafe was intended to replace the library but never got built. Because the library was converted into the Achievement Recovery Centre (the cause of her original downfall):
There are few spaces for students for quiet activities during recess and lunchtimes. Students who may prefer to read, study or eat indoors have limited access to appropriate areas in which to do this.

p12, ERO report
The school management seems to have been quite clueless. Firstly because of financial problems:
Resourcing. Funding for curriculum resources was reduced in 2001 to enable the school to recover from its major financial deficit. Trustees have not yet restored previous levels of funding for faculties and departments. Heads of Department stated that they did not receive adequate funding to meet the students’ learning needs. Heads of Faculty reported that faculties had not been provided with sufficient resources to maintain and develop classroom resources to compensate for the closure of the school library.

p7, ERO Report
The lack of funding explains the circumstances behind the notorious "boner" essay. The Teacher had set a damnfool question for assignment because she didn't have proper resources. And why wasn't the funding restored?
Physical environment. ERO found that the overall school environment was shabby. While the street facade appears attractive and new buildings are currently under construction [emphasis mine], inside the gates even quite new buildings are uncared for. At the back of the school the temporary classrooms, provided for recent roll growth, are poorly maintained and, in some aspects, unsafe for students.

p11, ERO report
So the school was busy putting up new buildings, leaving the departments starved of resources, the existing buildings in a state of neglect, the school library shut down and they hadn't even built a cyber-cafe! How on earth can Allison Annan be proud of herself? It will be interesting to see the reactions of people that had originally praised her in the coming days. Among them would be the Herald editor that described her as "clear-eyed, tough-minded" and lauded her reign as:
Her energy, discipline, determination and at least some of her standards will be missed by those who worry that secondary education is once again becoming bland, regimented and crushing of principals with spirit.
Given a choice between Annan and no library and a "spiritually crushed principal" with a library, I know what I would prefer.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

DNA discoverer dies.

Maurice Wilkins has died. Good riddance.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Donna Awatere Huata Saga

Today arguments were heard in the supreme court about the Donna Awatere Huata case. Richard Prebble is appealing against the stupid Court of Appeal decision that Donna can not be dismissed under the Electoral Integrity Act.

The Surpeme Court has reserved its decision but Donna might want to look for some new lawyers. According to Teletext, her lawyer argued that an MP should only be removed if he or she was a lunatic, criminal or had switched their vote. Donna clearly qualifies on the second ground as far as I'm concerned.

Guilty Plea in Pitcarin Trial

Dennis Christian, a defendant in the Pitcairn Island sex abuse trials, has changed his plea from innocent to guilty. While commendable in and of itself, the decision knocks a huge hole in the arguments of some Pitcairn Islanders and their apologists that what went on was perfectly natural. If they had really believed that then why did they convict Ricky Quinn for such offences in 1999?

Pointless Research

This just in. The Herald reports that "P's link to violence confirmed". In other breaking news, the Pope was found to be Catholic and Bears have been observed defecating in the woods.

Considering the horrific crimes of Antoine Dixon (who whacked two women with a katana), Ese Faleali'i (an armed robber who shot people even though they were co-operating with him), William Bell (another armed robber who killed three people and left another critically injured) and Steven Williams (who killed his step-daughter), all of which were committed under the influence of P, what sane person could possibly deny that P caused violence?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Spotted... Wheatsheaf Tavern yesterday, a poster with the legend:
Wheatsheaf Tavern - Helping Ugly People to have sex since 1875.

Friday, October 01, 2004

NBR's Hubbard Files

The NBR has now made the infamous Hubbard articles available on their website as a "public service". The articles are:
Hubbard's triple bottom lie,
The triple bottom line lie,
Hubbard struggles to hold line,
Strike loomed at stopwork meeting,
Hubbard's $1,000,000 Queenstown sandpit,
The dumbed-down City of Souls vision,
Charismatic churchgoer,
The self-styled 'plodder' rose from delivery boy and
Don't stand for office if you can't take the heat.
All fairly scurrilous stuff but there's no allegation of criminal activity and individual accusations are pretty mild compared to what politicians get called these days.

Some of the allegations I have heard before in context of the labour unrest at his factory in 2000. That alone showed there was an unhealthy gap between what Hubbard thought he was like and what his workers felt. On the other hand, the allegation that Hubbard lied about the number of triple bottom line reports that he produced rests upon an uncharitable interpretation of an ambiguous statement of his. Having seen the video clip of Hubbard making the statement, I'll have to say the NBR was wrong to characterize it as a lie.

The Press is chuckling with glee...

The Deborah Coddington/Roger Kerr story has more life in it. Catherine Judd, the ACT President, denied that she knew anything about the matter in an attempt to douse the storm in the teacup. The only problem was that the Press had obtained a copy of a letter which demonstrated that Catherine knew about the matter.


So a story that was one of the three stories on yesterday's frontpage (a coverage that was excessive) now covers the entire frontpage today! I think the Press has lost a sense of proportion over the whole matter as the malfeasance is trivial and there's other major newsworthy stories happening (such as the Air Adventure's coronial inquiry).