Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Government's week of Hell

I'm trying very hard to recall the last time when the government was under pressure on a number of fronts. In addition to George Hawkins blundering along, serious questions have arisen about:
1. NCEA scholarship exams. The level of variation in the scholarship results across subjects is simply ridiculous. There is a related issue in the handling of NCEA level 3 exams which creates the impression that NZQA doesn't know what it's doing. Certainly the failure to conduct rudimentary analysis on the results and the returning of papers before they can be rechecked gives the impression that an outbreak of spasticism has occured within NZQA.

2. Te Wanaga o Aoteoroa. The massive increase in size (from 861 students in 1999 to 34,282 students in 2003) and funding (1999 budget: $3.9 million, 2003 budget: $239 million) in only five years should have alerted education officials to the need for intense supervision to ensure that the institution's management doesn't run amok. Since it has (for example the institution has a fleet of 350 cars which are groomed fortnightly by a company run by a partner of an institution official), serious bloodletting is called for. What astonishes me is that Trevor Mallard supposedly had concerns about the institution during the period of time in question, had impetus to act after Don Brash's first Orewa speech but apparently didn't do enough to halt the mess. What stopped him from wielding the axe a year ago? Then any massacre would have been a vote-winner, now he just looks incompetent for allowing it to fester.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dog Bites Man Story: Hawkins Bungles Portfolio Again

It's been reported by the Dominion Post that George Hawkins did not know anything about the recent busting of an international Child Porn Ring until Time magazine published a story on Thursday about our authorities dragging their feet. This was despite Time magazine asking his office for comment seven days before! Given that the initial bust of the ring was major news and prominent in Australia, just what does George Hawkins actually do right in his portfolios?

That's Incredible!

Little tension in most peaceful Waitangi Day for years

Meanwhile in international news, the Pope is now said to be speaking clearly. Since he hasn't spoken clearly for several years now due to various ailments, this would have to be a miracle.

Friday, February 04, 2005

How not to handle a portfolio

Just when the government is cheered by the sight of Don Brash demoting Katherine Rich, George Hawkins scores an own goal. It all goes back to January 16th when Tame Iti carried a shotgun and discharged it onto a flag when the Waitangi Tribunal was being welcomed by the Tuhoe. Despite the police being present and photographic evidence available, Tame had not been arrested when parliamentary questions started for the year over two weeks later. There is the additional question of whether Tame should have been arrested for gross indecency for not wearing a shirt but I'll leave that aside.

On Wednesday, George Hawkins was questioned in parliament about the matter. He properly answered that it was an operational matter for the police. But that was not good enough for George Hawkins. Before he was questioned again on the matter the next day, not only was Tame arrested the very next day but his office issued a press release stating that it would be helpful that the police should issue a statement about the matter. Not only has he confirmed the impression of being asleep on the job in the first place but he has also given the appearance of clumsy-handed intervention in police matters. However I doubt this would be a sacking offence given that none of his other misdeeds have given Helen cause to dismiss him.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Good News and Bad News

The Good News is that Caffeinated Beer is going to be on the market.

The Bad News is that Budweiser is making it.