Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Christchurch East Candidates

The following candidates are standing for Christchurch East:
Boyd, Lynda (Alliance)
Chapman, Kyle (Direct Democracy)
Dalziel, Lianne (Labour)
Hopkinson, Paul (Anti-Capitalist Alliance)
McCammon, Mary (Green Party)
O'Connell, Kevin Patrick (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis)
Peters, John (ACT)
Round, David John (National)
Silcock, Karen (Jim Anderton's Progressive)
Wilson, Dianne (United Future)
The sitting MP is Lianne Dalziel who won it with a majority of 14,864 votes in the last election.

Lynda Boyd is yet another mysterious candidate. She's listed on the Alliance site as the deputy chair of the Alliance Canterbury branch and her email address indicates that she's a student at Canterbury but there is nothing else about her. The Alliance won 466 party votes and 315 electorate votes at the last election and given the nature of their voters, I expect their share of the vote to remain stable at best.

Kyle Chapman is well-known as the former chief obscenity of the National Front. His blurb makes interesting reading in what it does not say:
He served some time on the Christchurch Safer Community Council. His ability to get the job done was well known at street level - his qualifications being social work based. Through the years he has been part of other types of work [my emphasis - PHM] within the community. This has, at times, led to a high profile.
The "other types of work" happened to be being a contact person for the dissemination of hate literature. When found out, he was forced to leave the Safer Community Council. Also of note is the sentence "His political experience has grown somewhat since he stood for the Christchurch Mayoralty". That was last year. Why did he not mention his leadership role in the National Front, which began in 1997?

Lianne Dalziel has been a notable MP ever since she entered Parliament in 1990. Her majority of 14,864 at the last election was large but that could be in jeopardy over her forced resignation as Minister of Immigration as voters do punish erring candidates and MPs on election night. I don't expect her to lose her seat over this as she has spent over a year in the wilderness as penance (even if she's still spinning the circumstances of her fall).

Paul Hopkinson, the Anti-Capitalist Alliance candidate, is a teacher that was prosecuted two years ago for burning the NZ flag at a protest. He was acquitted on appeal because the Judge was a goddamned PINKO! decided that in light of the Bill of Rights Act, defacing the flag had to be something stronger than merely burning it. What that was, he didn't say but publicly using the flag as toilet paper would be a safe guess. In between his recent court case and now, Paul has moved from Wellington to Christchurch for unknown reasons.

Mary McCammon the Green Candidate has a background as a children's entertainer. Her views are harmless garden-variety greenies (she approves of Mike Ward) rather than being half-baked demented nonsense like Keith Locke.

Kevin Patrick O'Connell is standing for the Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis, which astounds me. Given that they didn't have a party political address this time around and given that Blair Anderson wasn't standing under their banner, I had thought they had overdosed on weed to the point of terminal lethargy. The party website is singularly uninformative about the candidate.

John Peters stands for ACT again having stood for it in 2002. Then he received 1,212 party votes and 841 electorate votes, a slight improvement on the 1999 results. I expect the numbers to be reduced in the coming election due to ACT's low polling. I note that in 1999, John stood for Te Tai Tonga, one of the Maori seats, but there's no indication of any maori ethnicity in his profile.

David Round stands for National. He has a good pedigree as a law lecturer but when reading his letters and articles in the Press, I always felt that his thought processes were wayward. National received 4,368 party votes and 4,920 electorate votes at the last election. I expect these numbers to improve significantly but not to the point of unseating Lianne Dalziel. At a list ranking of 56, he is not likely to become a list MP.

Karen Silcock is standing for Jim Anderton's Progressives. Her profile is somewhat odd in that just under half of it consists of a declamation of Jim Anderton's views on apprenticeships. I simply do not understand why this should matter so much to a "married mother of three" as opposed to Jim's policies on drugs. Jim's party received 1,171 party votes and 834 electorate votes in 2002 and, in my opinion, they are likely to receive even fewer votes this time.

Lastly Dianne Wilson is United Future's candidate. Her profile is fairly respectable but doesn't say anything about why United Future was the party for her. United Future received 2,394 party votes and 1,532 electorate votes in 2002; as with all United Future candidates, I expect a collapse in their support.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Christchurch Central Candidates

The candidates for Christchurch Central are:
Barnett, Tim (Labour)
Breach, Anita (Destiny)
Clark Byron, (Anti-Capitalist Alliance)
Culter-Welsh, Natalie (Green)
Gardener, Kevin (New Zealand First)
Gregory, Daryl (Māori)
Marshall, Shirley (ACT)
van Buren, John (United Future)
Vermunt, Annalucia (Communist League)
Wagner, Nicky (National Party)
Woods, Megan (Jim Anderton's Progressive)
Tim Barnett won the seat in 2002 with 17,190 votes while Labour only received 13,853 party votes so Tim is a very popular MP. Both sets of votes are little unchanged from 1999 so I don't expect much of a change given current polling results. The only mystery to me is why Tim isn't on the Labour list.

Anita Breach is standing for the Destiny NZ party, affiliated to Bishop Tamaki's Destiny Church. While her biography looks reasonable, the set of principles to belong to the party looks offputting. I expect her to pick up some of the Christian Heritage vote which numbered about 430 party votes at the last election.

Bryon Clark is another commie from the Anti-Capitalist Alliance. According to this article, he's a laid-off factory worker and an organizer of the Unite union. Unite is affiliated to the CTU but it doesn't have a website.

Natalie Culter-Welsh is a recent student. The Greens picked up 3,479 party votes in the last election but their candidate only gained 1,719 electorate votes. However in 1999, the Greens only had 2,421 party votes and 1,658 electorate votes. So it seems there is a hardcore of 1,700 Greenie voters in this electorate with up to another 1,800 being other voters who wanted a Green presence in Parliament.

Daryl Gregory is another obscure candidate. There's a picture of him on the Maori party website but little else. Googling further, he seems to be the manager of a Maori mental health trust. It's uncertain how many votes he will receive as the Mana Maori party only gained 10 votes in 2002. However that was before the Foreshore and Seabed row broke out and I expect the Maori party to do better.

Although Shirley Marshall is standing for ACT there's not even a photograph of her on their website. Searching further, I found this which doesn't indicate a strong candidate. ACT won 1,845 party votes and 762 electorate votes in 2002 which is somewhat in line with the 1999 results. Given the low polling of ACT this time around, I expect fewer votes to be cast for them.

John van Buren also doesn't have a photo but he does have a biography on his party's website. Which is somewhat surprising as he's the former owner of the Wheatsheaf tavern in Lyttelton Harbour (across Gebbie's Pass) who came to national attention for his defiance of the Smokefree Act. Given that United Future polled a respectable 2,118 party votes and 1,160 electorate votes in 2002, I'm puzzled as to why they didn't already have a candidate selected considering that John joined at a late date. I expect United Future's results in this election to return to its 1999 level, namely 154 party votes.

Annalucia Vermunt is the Communist League candidate having stood for the Communist league for a long time in council and parliamentary elections. If you want to know why she isn't standing under the Anti-Capitalist Alliance, my understanding is that the ACA are Trotskyites while the Communist League are Maoists. Maoists think Stalin is brill while the Trotskyites think him a terminal pain in the head; Maoists also think that communism can be built among the peasantry while the Trotskyites view this as heresy and so forth. The rest of humanity think they should get a life. The only biographical information that I can find out about the candidate is that she's a member of the Meat-workers union.

Nicky Wagner is prominent in Christchurch's political scene as a councillor for ECan. In the last election, she received 6,837 electorate votes while National received only 5,338 party votes. All that shows however is that National mucked up their electoral strategy by failing to drive home the importance of the party vote to their supporters. I expect both vote totals to improve significantly in the coming election but not enough to unseat Tim Barnett. Since Wagner is number 28 on the list, she is likely to be elected as a list candidate.

Megan Woods is standing for Jim Anderton's personality cult. She is fairly high up on the list, which only shows up the poverty of talent among Jim's chosen disciples given that ahead of her is Grant Gillon whose best-known contribution to parliament was to make a joke about sex with sheep. Jim's party received 930 party votes and 761 electorate votes in 1999. I expect the totals to decline further in the coming election.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wigram Candidates

The candidates for the Wigram electorate are:
Anderton, Jim (Jim Anderton's Progressive)
Dowie, Tom (Alliance)
Emile, Tetauru (ACT)
Foljambe, Anton (Direct Democracy)
Hansen, Michael (NZ Economic Euthenics)
Kingi, Sam (Anti-Capitalist Alliance)
Lomax, Allison (National)
Mora, Mike (Labour)
Roberts, Vanessa (United Future)
Roswell, Brian M (New Zealand First)
Suggate, Richard Malcolm (Green)
This electorate has been a stronghold for Jim Anderton but with the ouster of his missus from the Christchurch City Council last year, it may no longer be secure. Jim received 11,206 electorate votes but only 2178 of those people actually trusted him with their party vote. Since Jim received 16,940 electorate votes and 5,474 party votes in 1999, there is a downward trend that Jim should be worried about.

Tom Dowie is the Alliance candidate to unseat the Evil Traitor that destroyed their party. The candidate is somewhat vocal (three press releases in six months) and took part in a hunger strike against the sale of Queen Mary hospital last year. But about him as the candidate, I can find nothing. The Alliance received only 581 electorate votes and 611 party votes in the last election and Tom is unlikely to improve on those numbers.

Tetauru Emile is the ACT candidate. ACT gained 1,285 party votes and 685 electorate votes last election which is roughly the same as it recieved in 1999 (1,138 party votes and 631 electorate votes). I expect ACT to receive similar or smaller numbers in this coming election.

Anton Foljambe used to be the leader of the National Front until he resigned in 1997. Since his successor Kyle Chapman is also standing, one can easily conclude that Direct Democracy is a skinhead party. However it's not that simple. Direct Democracy has among its candidates Dilip Rupa Tim Chan, Paul Teio and Seira Perese. The answer lies in the figure of one Kelvyn Alp who is described as a "former leader of the Armed Intervention Force - the defunct paramilitary wing of the separatist Maori Government of Aotearoa". I do recall police comment in the NBR about the AIF being a "strange mixture of maori radicals and white power activists" but the only reference I can find to the story is here, which does not have the comment.

Michael Hansen is a well-known oddball who has sat for council and parliamentary office for as long as I can remember. He received 55 votes in 1999 but received 370 votes in the mayoral election last year.

Sam Kingi is standing for the Anti-Capitalist Alliance. According to Wikipedia, the ACA is an umbrella group of socialist parties that is not numerous enough to be registered as a party! Its politics appear to be Maoist with a website based in the Tokelaus (and you have to get past a capitalist adult advertisment first). The only information I can find about Sam Kingi is here, which describes him as a full time student.

Allison Lomax replaces Alec Neill as the National candidate for Wigram. Alec is still around but reportedly having too much fun in ECan to be bothered with Parliament. From her profile, Allison has roots in North Canterbury so I get the impression that she's learning the ropes as a candidate before standing for a winnable seat elsewhere.

Mike Mora takes up the challenge once again for Labour having contested the seat in 1999 and 2002. He has improved the electorate vote from 5,968 votes in 1999 to 8,030 in 2002. If Jim's share of the vote collapses as much as it did the last time, Mike will be returned as MP. Despite his long service, Mike not on the Party list for reasons I can't fathom.

Vanessa Roberts is standing as the United Future candidate. United Future won 2,402 party votes and 1,376 electorate votes in 2002 but based on the collapse in its support, it will be lucky to receive half the number of votes in this election.

Brain Roswell is standing for NZ First. I've been unable to find much about him apart from this blog entry. Even the NZ First website has sod-all about him (and candidates in general) perhaps because the webmaster can be arsed wasting time on losers.

Richard Malcolm Suggate is the Green Candidate. I find the use of the middle name to be somewhat suspicious as it's chiefly used if you're appearing in court on a charge and the exception that springs to mind - Richard Milhous Nixon -- proves the rule. His profile indicates that he's a conservationist Greenie although he does confess to having been in a commune in his youth. I expect the Greens to improve somewhat on the votes they received in the last election, which were 2,179 party votes and 1,681 electorate votes.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ilam candidates

I finally had a look at the list of candidates for the Ilam electorate:
Alexander, Marc (United Future New Zealand)
Anderson, Blair John
Blanchard, Julian (Labour Party)
Brownlee, Gerry (National Party)
Findlay, Quentin (Alliance)
Giles, Jo (ACT New Zealand)
Griffiths, Lois (Green Party)
Zhang, Zemin (Jim Anderton's Progressive)
The first thing that I notice is the complete absence of any candidate from NZ First. Looking further I note that NZ First did not field a candidate in the 2002 election (despite gaining 2,400 party votes) while in the 1999 election, the NZ First candidate, Andrew Gin, gained 1443 electorate votes and the party gained 810 party votes. So in not fielding a candidate, NZ First gets more votes? However 1999 was the year that NZ First was almost throttled in the polls by antagonizing three blocs of voters: the voters that wanted them to form a government with Labour back in 1996, the voters that wanted them to remain in government with Nation in 1998 and the voters that were profoundly disgusted by their list shennigans in 1999. The 2002 result is also anomalous in that 30% of the people that voted for National in 1999 had voted for other parties.

Marc Alexander is a United Future list MP. He did not run in 1999 as the United party organization had ceased to exist in 1996 after the defeat of the sitting MP, Margaret Austin (whose conversion from Labour destroyed the Labour party organization there as well which is one of the reasons why Brownlee has been so secure). He gained 1760 electorate votes in 2002 compared with 2842 party votes for United Future. Marc is highly unlikely to do as well because in 2002, United Future gained the undeserved reputation as a party of common sense which boosted the number of votes it received. Having received no such boost this time around, United Future is likely to be returned with at the most two MPs (Peter Dunne and Judy Turner) leaving Marc at a number 4 placing out in the cold.

Blair Anderson has no party affiliation listed but he ran in the 2003 council elections has a legalize dope candidate under the banner of Mild Greens. He didn't impress me then on the basis of his incoherent candidate blurb. The Aoteroa Legalize Cannabis Party only gained 125 votes at the last election so he is likely to lose his deposit and go without dope for the next three months.

Julian Blanchard is the Labour Party candidate. I've blogged about him before and didn't have much to say then. Given the revival in National's fortunes in this election, Julian is highly unlikely to oust Gerry. Oddly Julian is not on the Party List, which means that he has no safety cushion. I'm not totally conversant with the ins-and-outs of Labour Party List dynamics - I know why people like George Hawkins or Clayton Cosgrove are not on the list but I don't know why the same is true for Tim Barnett - so I'll avoid speculation at this point.

Gerry Brownlee is the sitting National MP for Ilam and most likely to be returned. I originally have a low opinion of him based on my brothers' experiences with him at St Bede's but that has mellowed with time. To give an example of what he was like then - in 1990 Jim Bolger and Mike Moore were holding a leadership debate at St Bede's as this was Mike's homebase (another debate was held on Jim's home ground and a third in neutral territory). Consequently the audience was largely labour faithful except for two people: Gerry Brownlee and Mark Kunnen. Because Gerry had such a deep, booming, VOICE, his heckling of Mike Moore was so strong that during an ad break, Jim Bolger turned to him and told him to be quiet.

Quentin Findlay, the Alliance candidate, is so little known that even the Alliance website doesn't may much about him other than he's no. 13 on their list. He seems to be the education coordinator of the Lincoln University Students Association and I find the acronym of the last organization to be quite apt.

Jo Giles is the ACT party candidate. ACT received 2482 party votes and 1327 electorate votes in the last election while in 1999, the respective votes cast for it were 3385 party and 1166 electorate. Given that the 2002 election was were ACT received party votes at the expense of National, it seems to me that ACT will get even fewer party votes this time around. I haven't heard much about Jo but looking at her profile, she's active in the radio (which I don't listen to) and in Halswell (which is some distance from Ilam and in the Banks Pennisula electorate). Hence I imagine she's standing in Ilam to rally the more numerous troops there than where she lives.

Lois Griffiths, the Green Party candidate, I know chiefly from her letters to the editor in the Press. Her profile does not inspire confidence. She says she would be a "good ally" for Keith Locke and complains about the destruction and occupation of Afghanistan. There's also her support for Keith Locke's goal of independance for West Papua - the only reason they are choosing West Papua is that the accursed Howard freed East Timor while the aims of Aceh have been resolved. Other potential conflicts like Tonga, the Solomons and Fiji are shunned because their ignorance and naivety would then be revealed.

Zemin Zhang, the Progressive Candidate, is a bit unusual in that he actually has some sort of a business background. Why he felt the Progressive is the party for him is unknown as I've not yet been able to find any speeches from him.

Finally I could have sworn I read in the Press several weeks ago that Robert Consedine was standing for the Maori party in Ilam but searching the net only turns up the story that he's only on the list.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Addresses of the Minor and Joke Parties

The first party to feature was the Christian Heritage Party. Ewan McQueen impressed me by apologizing for Graham Capill. The rest of the address was taking up by announcing the party's ABCs, Affirming Marriage, Building Families and Celebrating Life.

Then appeared the Democrats for Social Credit. I thought they disappeared ages ago, subsumed into the Alliance or something. The only interesting thing their spokeswoman, one Clare De Ruyter, mentioned was their unique financial policy (ie. printing money).

Next was Richard Lewis for Destiny New Zealand. His address was focussed on the family but the usage of "forefathers" at one point struck me as odd.

The LibertariaNZ spoke next about the twin goals of self-ownsership and self-responsibility. They were going to dump the Resource Management Act and the Treaty of Waitangi and slash taxes and tariffs to the bone.

The once-proud Alliance was next and they spoke about having to stop Brash and reclaim the country. They did flash policies at the bottom but I couldn't make them out.

The 99MP Party then spoke about slashing the number of MPs to 99 and Cabinet to 12. Supposedly the billions saved in this cost-cutting measure can be spent on fixing what's wrong with this country.

The Republicans said that the problem with our countryu was the British Monarchy. They were also going to dump the Treaty of Waitangi in favour of a new document.

Finally there was the Family Rights Protection Party, which spoke about increasing ethnic representation in Parliament (most of the speakers looked Maori or Islanders) as well as the Guardianship of God-given rights.

And that was all of the minor and joke party addresses. I didn't see the Aoteoroa Legalize Cannabis Party this time around. They were probably too stoned to make a political address.

Maori Party Political Address

The Maori Part speaker was Dr Pita Sharples, probably because Tariana Turia doesn't feel comfortable speaking into a camera. He was boasting about the Maori Party's membership and there were plenty of scenes of the Foreshore and Seabed, the issue that got the Maori Party organized. Pita then listed the five main policies of the Maori Party:
1. Honor the Treaty
2. Increased Health Spending
3. Free education and more Kaupapa language nests.
4. Repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act
5. Help People and Family
For a party that was formed by the Foreshore and Seabed Act, there was no bashing of the Government. Instead Pita placed great stress on the entry of an authentic and independant Maori Voice into Parliament.

Progressive Political Address

The Address consisted of Jim Anderton walking between two telescreens that displayed policy. He had a new line that the Progressive Party kept their heads down and got things done to explain away the fact that his party has been almost invisible over the last election.

Jim claimed credit for economic and regional development as well as the creation of 260,000 new jobs, kiwibank, 4 weeks leave and a doubling in the number of apprenticeships.

He then said that he wanted to create Thinkers not Drinkers and to do this, he would raise the drinking age to 20, ban Alcohol advertising and prevent Cannabis from being legalized.

He also said that he wanted to be the Minister of Education after the next election (which sounds like he's done a deal with Helen, he certainly can't be any worse than Trevor Mallard). To reduce student debt, Jim's policy was to have the government pay the loan costs for three years for every year that the student worked in New Zealand.

Jim then threw in some more policies which were:
Increasing superannuation
$200 winter power handout
No Prescription Charges for under 18s and Over-65s
Home Deposits by capitalizing the family benefit
Finally he spoke about how important it was to return more progressive MPs to parliament in the next election. Certainly, Jim! Who would these MPs be, by the way?

ACT political address

The address suprisingly started off with footage of Roger Douglas and then switched to an informal meeting of ACT MPs past and present as well as some of the hopefuls. The informality was an unusual tactic as I was expecting an address like the Greens. I assume that informality must be the in-thing as National also did it with their political address. Being a hard science wonk, I preferred the Green style although I can understand that ACT is trying to soften its image.

Because the discussion was so informal, the policies were interspesed with discussions about ACT philosophy. Not being a very fast writer, I only noted down the policies, which were:
Tax Cuts
Ending the Treaty Greivance Industry
Better deal for Farmers over Land Access
Zero-tolerance towards Crime
Criminals should serve out their full sentences
Allowing public money to be spent on private hospitals
Promotion of Teachers, Doctors and Nurses at expense of Bureacrats
There was an moving anecdote about a family that lost a daughter because the money couldn't be spent on operations in a private hospital. Then there was the mention of the Wanaga and discussion of Rodney's role in keeping the government honest by asking difficult questions. I do admit being surprised that the ACT's political address was less focussed on its leader than the Greens were.

Lastly there was a discussion about how National needs ACT in that they are better than NZ First plus a two final policies of scrapping NCEA and stopping welfare abuse.

United Future Political Address

The Address opened with Peter Dunne waffling about the family and shaking his head in an odd manner while doing so. It's not as bad as Alamein Kopu's wobbling eyes but it is still strange. He then says that he made six promises at the last election and achieved them during the term. He however only listed three, which were:
1) Families Commission
2) More Money for Families
3) Prevention of Dope legalization
The first is simply an expensive embarressment that has done nothing worthwhile so far. The second appears to be the reference to Michael Cullen's minor adjustments of the tax thresholds in three years time. If that's all that Dunne can bring himself to mention, one can only wonder what the three he didn't mention must be like.

We then had short speeches of the other United Future MPs mixed in with each other so that Judy Turner would say a sentence before shifting to Gordon Copeland saying a sentence and so on. Which made it a real pain to keep track of who said what. So I would just list the policies that I was able to record:
reduction of child poverty from 20% to 4%
This was to be done through Working for Families package.
Victim Rights Act
Sounds good but what was it about?
Condemnation of Conservation department in creating Marine Reserves
United Future can't say anything about the more important Foreshore and Seabed because the Government shafted them.
More tax cuts
Increase student allowances
Reduce student debt
No Dope legalization
No Hate-speech laws
Fairer Superannuation
More Police
Criminals serve out their sentences
Common sense conservation
Anti-political correctness
Humdrum stuff that isn't going to save their caucus from oblivion at the coming election.

Finally the issue of the government. Apparently United Future deserves the vote because it would be better than the Greens or New Zealand First. They don't have a tantrum and walk away because they don't get their way. Which is true largely because they are so wet that Helen can take then for granted and shaft them from time to time.

NZ First Political Address

The NZ first address focused predictably on Winston Peters. He described his party's achievements over the past twelve years as bringing free doctor's visits and prescription charges for the under-sixes, removing superannuation surcharges, voting against the Foreshore and Seabed Act and exposing the shambles of immigration.

Then he whipped out the Golden Age Card and from the way he initially presented it, it looked like a American Express Gold Card for the elderly. Then he laid into the "bro'rocracy" and Immigration before spelling out what the Golden Age Card would confer - namely lower power and telephone bills, cheaper rates and cheaper doctor's visits. In addition there would be more superannuation and if you didn't know that Peters was popular among the elderly, you should by now.

Peters then spoke about Law and Order. He aimed to bring in 1000 extra policemen per year from the next five years and demerge Traffic from the Police. Surprisingly he didn't have anything to say about tougher sentences for criminals that I have noted down.

The next topic was Immigration. Peters didn't have anything tangible to say on this topic and the most memorable bit was a conversation in which Peters asked "why don't you give me the power to do something about it?". The hairs at the back of my neck only heard the first seven words and immediately stood up. He had nothing to say about immigrant taxi-drivers, which was unusual.

Peters then spelled out what he would do about the Bro-rocracy. He would abolish the Treaty of Waitangi Commission and replace it with a real Commission of Inquiry. Long-time Peters observers would know that Peters always demands a Commission of Inquiry for anything - apparently he has never heard of a Royal Commission or a proper Judicial Court as possible replacements for the Waitangi Commission.

He then attacked the proposed Free-trade agreement with China. No surprises there. Next he declared that we were paying too much for our petrol and power. That may be so but how does Winston propose to bring our petrol and power prices down? He does not say.

Winston then laid out his five points on which he will fight the election.
1. Seniors
2. Immigration
3. Law and Order
4. Treaty
5. Economy
I would have mentioned the five points at the beginning of the address, not at the end.

Finally Peters addressed the issue of who he would support at the next election. It's whatever party would go furthest in supporting his policies. In other words - wait until after the election to find out.

Green Party Political Address

The Green Address started off with Rod Donaldson and Jeanette Fitzsimmons standing side-by-side speaking towards the camera. They stated the main themes of their government as being:
Clean Rivers
Safe Food
Fair Go
Clean Renewable Energy
They then spoke some more but the only note that I have of this is that Jeanette spoke about changing NZ's energy away from coal to Solar and Wind Power. Curiously nothing was said about Oil. The focus then switched to other Green MPs.

First was Sue Bradford who spoke about:
Ending child poverty
Raising the minimum age to $12/hour
Repealin s59 of the Crimes Act
The first is meaningless fluff, the second is economic idiocy that has little hope of being passed while the third is about ending the right of parents to use reasonable force to discipline their children (aka smacking).

Next appeared Sue Kedgely. She spoke about:
Flexible working hours
Labelling of GE food
NZ Control of Dietary supplements
Ending cruel agricultural practices
She didn't explain what her flexible working hours bill entailed while the GE labelling seems to contradict Jeanette's pledge to keep NZ GE free. The NZ Control of Dietary Supplements refers to NZ dietary supplements being monitored by a joint Australian/New Zealand authority - Sue thinks this is bad but won't explain why.

Then we had the execrable Keith Locke who claimed the Greens were responsible for freeing Ahmed Zaoui and not his laywer's making a bail application in the Supreme Court. He didn't have much to say except for bring peace to West Papua. Presumably his criticisms of the warmongering US were vetoed by the other Greenies.

Then Meteria Turei spoke. After a brief speech in Maori, she claimed the Greens were responsible for the establishment of the Maori Television Service. By keeping a straight face while uttering this lie, she clearly has the makings of a good politician. She also pointed out that the Greens voted against the Foreshore and Seabed Act but neglected to say what the Greens would replace it with.

Next on the Screen was Nandor Tanczos. Apart from the predictable legalization of dope, Nandor spoke about the Clean Slate Act, an inquiry into victim's rights, the creation of an independant prison inspectorate and an independant commission for appointing Judges. The last three sound like they were pulled out of Nandor's hair at the last minute since I've heard very little from him (except when it comes to dope) over the last term. This lack of visibility has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues who demoted him down the list as a result.

Mike Ward then briefly spoke about Waste Minimalization before the camera switched back to Rod. He opposed free-trade and spoke about wanting our clean green image to be a reality. So when the Greens have been opposing various projects and policies on the grounds that it would harm our clean, green image, they were talking about something that did not exist?

Finally the camera switched to Jeanette. She spoke of the Greens' efforts to keep NZ GE-free and "winning". Ordinary people would describe the end of the GE moratorium which she campaigned for extending indefinitely about at the last election to be a defeat. Jeanette then spoke about the end of cheap oil and how the Greens made the government buy back the rail network. She then said that the Greens wanted to shift funding from motorways which were "white elephants" into public transport and rail. In addition, the Greens planned to install half a million solar panels onto people's homes as an energy saving device. In conclusion, Jeanette pointed out that Labour could not govern alone and that a Labour/Green government was better than a Labour/NZ First government and that was the end of the Green Address.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Helen's motorcade: the verdict

The trial of the speeding motorcade concluded today with three officers being found guilty of dangerous driving. In delivering his judgment, the judge criticizing the police hierarchy in sending the drivers out without making it clear what was expected of them. After the verdict was announced, Helen Clark said that she would not be making any comment on legal advice.

Why? At first, I thought it was because the sentence has not been announced yet. But it has - the drivers were convicted and fined $675 but allowed to keep their licenses. So what possible reason does Helen have to keep silent? The only legal reason that might apply is incriminating herself but it's more likely that she's adopted the legal advice as an excuse to avoid an embarassing explanation why she said nothing during the drive even though she knew what was going on.

National Party Political Address

The first minute of the address is some writing about how they were going to do a big flashy advertisement but then decided to talk to Don Brash in his kitchen. This did appear to me as a gamble as being telegenic is something that Don's not too strong on. The interview was more relaxed than Helen's was and lasted the entire length of the audience. At the end of it, I felt it was fine but then again I am only one person. So onto the specifics.

I was intriuged by his usage "baloney" within the few minutes. This was something that he caught a bit of flak from Labour before until his party rose in the polls. So saying it again seems to be a challenge of some sort.

Don then made a quick punt about how he went into Parliament not to be the most insulting person, which did prompt me to remark "that's Gerry Brownlee's job", before going into detail about himself. Why he changed from Labour to National, why he washed his own socks while abroad as a Reserve Bank Governor, why he was a conscentious objector, how he was opposed to Nuclear Weapons, how he was not a spoilt rich brat and so forth. The intention here was to paint himself as a social liberal rather than being a hardline policy wonk that ate babies for lunch, breakfast and tea. Don didn't mention that he was a Marxist at Canterbury University as this might have frightened off more than a few conservatives.

Don then was asked about unpopularity and he responded with his Owera speech (which initially saw him damned as a racist but then the Government aopted many of his policies once he rose in the polls shortly afterwards). He said he was opposed to state-sponsored racism but then impressed me by saying it was not purely a labour thing.

Then we had a splash of National's policies on Racial Issues, which were:
Need, not race-based funding
No Maori Seats
A third which I couldn't write down in time but might have been prompt settling of treaty issues
Need-based funding is actually government policy so that's uncontroversial. The No Maori Seats looks radical but isn't. The seats were originally created because voting was originally on a property based qualification and this disadvantaged the Maoris who had owned their property communally. The seats were unnecessary once universal male suffrage was introduced (which the Maoris enjoyed a few years before the general population did) but have persisted out of sheer inertia.

Don then spoke about violent crime and how the police were concentrating on speeding tickets rather than real crime. Given George Hawkin's pathetic performance of the portfolio, this was like shooting fish in a barrel. The splash screen reappeared with:
Abolition of parole for violent and repeat offenders
More frontline police
DNA from all convicts
I'm less than enthusiastic about the abolition of parole as it removes a useful method of controlling released prisoners as well as impede prisoners from integrating themselves into the community. If there was a policy to improve the performance of the probation service, I would have been much happier. The other measures are okay.

The next topic is health and here Don spoke about how Helen had promised to fix the waiting lists but failed to do so. The National policies were:
More doctors and nurses
Better care for the elderly
Allowing public money to be spent in funding private operations
The first two look inoffensive to me but the third was interesting. If I recall correctly, it was policy in the Bolger/Shipley government that Labour abolished for ideological reasons.

The next easy target that Don Brash took aim at was Education. I shan't bore you with the details as I haven't noted them down. The National policies in this area were:
New Standards for English and Math
Pay Good Teachers more
The last policy is waving a red flag at the Teacher Unions. It's a good thing that Martin Cooney has been ousted from the PPTA or there would have been blood on the streets by now.

And now Don tackles Welfare. Here he has a problem as Labour has a good employment record (lowest unemployment rating in the OECD). So what does he do? Mention the absolute numbers of working class unemployed, how much worse it was than in the 70s and the numbers of working class unemployed and their children are as large as the populations of Christchurch and Dunedin combined. As Mark Twain puts it, "There are three types of lies; Lies, damned lies and statistics". The obvious labour response would be to point out that the increase in unemployed came from the economic reforms that Don Brash was a part of during the 80s. So I don't imagine Don will be saying too much about welfare in this election. The National Policies are:
Ongoing help and work for Dole
Tough sickness beneficiary checks
Part time work for DPB once their youngest kid attends school
More mild policies.

The next topic was growth. Don says some boilerplate about people leaving and how he plans to encourage growth by enticing them back through the policies of:
Lower Taxes
Fair Childcare

The last isn't actually a growth policy as such but placed here because there was nowhere else to put it. I'm surprised that the Lower Taxes didn't get more play in the address.

Finally there was the issue of trust, another government weakness. Don didn't mention the obvious examples of Doonegate, the Speeding Motorcade and so forth but instead described how Helen had made a promise of getting New Zealand into the top half of the developed countries and then abandoned that promise on the grounds that it was unachievable. Very wisely Don didn't commit himself to the same promise as it was a damnfool thing for Helen to promise in the first place. At the same time, he left the impression that he would carry out the policy, which impressed me as a masterful political achievement.

Finally the address ended with feelgood imagery, which unlike Labour, did have shots of other people in National and Don's wife. So to compare it with Labour, both Helen and Don's scripts were well-polished. Helen's delivery was optimistic while Don was more relaxed and thoughtful. There was plenty of policy meat in both addresses but Labour is hampered by the Government's below par performance in some areas.

Labour Party Political Address

The Labour Party political address started off with feelgood images and mini-speeches by supposedly ordinary New Zealanders about what a great place this is. Michael Campbell also said a short sentence or two but surprisingly he wasn't so prominent.

The camera then switched to Helen speaking to an off-camera interviewer. First she gave a passionate exposition of how great she felt to be a New Zealander before switching to three policy areas: Health, Students and Foreign Reputation. Once she had finished explaining a policy area, the address switched to a mini-advert reinforcing that message.

Helen's mini-speech on health was about the importance of Primary Care, how it will make New Zealanders healthier and all that. All very true but it does leave unanswered of what happens to the existing cases of poor health as measured by hospital waiting lists which is something that Labour hasn't done well in taming. Finally as a concession to the elderly (who will be largely unaffected by improvements in Primary Health Care), specific joint replacement and cataract surgery was mentioned. My overall impression was the package didn't quite mesh and that Helen was promising a few more bandaids. I do feel that the government has recognized that some reforms will have to be made (Michael Cullen said as much around the time of the budget) rather than keep on throwing more money at it. I would have prefered being trusted with specific policy initiatives rather than receiving bland assurances that all is well.

Helen's mini-speech on students was so bland and formulaic that all I saw fit to write in my notes is pointed remarks about the absence of anything about NCEA and Te Wanaga. She did mention the government's record on employment which is a point in their favour but hardly fits in with education.

Finally Helen's mini-speech on foreign imagery pointed out the nuclear free policy and the avoidance of unjust wars (ie Iraq). Due to the feelgood all-is-well nature of the address, she couldn't have laid into National as much as she wanted to. One small quibble was that if Helen was so opposed to Iraq why did she send our engineers to help with the reconstruction effort _before_ the UN passed the appropriate resolution? The mini-add that rounded off this section didn't connect. It was about a young woman sitting in the Berlin U-Bann with many tings about her being pointed as coming from New Zealand. Nary a word about Iraq nor the Nuclear-Free policy.

And that was all that Helen said. What didn't she say? She could have stressed her government's sound financial management and kept a straight face in the process. By not talking about it, she has drawn attention to it.

Having had enough Helen, the Address then spelled out ten reasons to vote Labour.
1. Student Loans
A massive financial bribe from a government that said we couldn't afford tax cuts for another three years and then it would be worth a packet of chewing gum a week for the average family.
2. More Operations
Specifically increased funding for cataracts and joint replacement operations. Given the wonders Steve Maharey has wrought in increasing paperwork, I'm less than optimistic that the funding is capable of being spent.
3. Kiwisaver scheme
A government operated savings account to buy your own home which has a government subsidy so small that you'll be lucky if it paid for the construction crew's smoko on the first day.
4. Rates Relief
Another impressive financial initiative to lighten the load on the camel's back by a single straw.
5. 5000 more apprenticeships
Okay. But I get the feeling that this policy is a sop towards the trade-unionists in the Labour party.
6. 250 more community constables
If they really wanted to create enthusiasm at this point, they would be saying "Sack George Hawkins" which Labour, to their credit, does intend to do. I do have the worry that the proposed increase will be implemented by reclassifying speed cameras and the like as "community policing".
7. Realistic settlement of treaty claims
I had to laugh at this. Labour is planning to impose a time limit on treaty claims and settlements, something which they've previously denounced as racist. But the votes of middle New Zealanders are worth more than the Maoris whom they've pissed off with the Foreshore and Seabed act.
8. 4 weeks minimum leave
They actually promote this on the grounds that it will create more jobs and better pay! The idiots. It's a cost in money and productivity to employers. Most will respond by employing fewer workers whenever possible.
9. Nuclear Free Status
Okayish but in my opinion, it's a pretty much redundant policy as the focus on international security has switched from the Cold War to the War on Terror.
10. Family Tax Relief
Why is this down at number 10? Given the size of it, it ranks far above the kiwisaver and the rates relief in impact. I can only conclude that it was something dreamed up at the last minute.

Finally the address finished off with a heavily airbrushed image of Helen Clark. I know that Helen isn't capable of launching ten ships on her looks alone and I try not to hold it against her. But when I'm confronted again and again by images of her as false as the paintings she signed, it aggravates my doubts about her trustworthiness.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lange: a tribute

David Lange died peacefully last night after a period of long illness. He was an enormously complex person whose legendary wit and affable charm far outshone his inconstancy, his duplicity and his cratered legacy.

Lange entered Parliament to make New Zealand a better place. When he became Prime Minister in 1984, ending Robert Muldoon's nine year reign, he had genuine hopes of governing as a popular and moderate leader. Unfortunately for him, the economy required unpleasant radical change and Lange had to pose instead as the public face of Roger Douglas's reforms. He was never quite at ease in this role and his growing dissatisfaction caused a public split with Douglas that destroyed the credibility of his government and himself.

The most rewarding part of Lange's leadership were his public triumphs on the world stage, the best-known being the Nuclear Ships row and the Rainbow Warrior affair. For daring to stand up to the United States over whether its ships could visit NZ ports, he was pleased by the resulting accolades. Yet the truth was that the row was unneccessary being caused by his mismanagement of a proposed US ship visit. By humbling the haughty French into apologizing for the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior made his star rise even higher. Yet Lange was not able to prevent the French from testing nuclear tests in the Pacific and his government's abject capitulation into returning the captured agents to the French haunted him in his final years.

The loathing inspired by his second term in government has largely faded now while the pleasant memories of him still remain. Even the malice of his memoirs has failed to reopen the old wounds that his government wrought while his colleagues have borne his backstabbings with commendable restraint. In short, David Lange will be best remembered for the elegance of what he said rather than the accomplishments of his government and he would have prefered it that way.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Clark versus Lange: Take 2

Helen Clark has another go at rebutting David Lange's allegations.
Helen Clark called the years between 1984 and 1990 a "particularly painful part of the Labour Party's history" and recalled the "shock" she felt when, as Housing Minister, she found officials were starting "to unpick the state housing provision as we had known it".

She went to Mr Lange and told him she could not support the changes.

Mr Lange then revealed he had had a "dismal" summer holiday and was "of a mind to re-examine things", Helen Clark said.

A short time later, he famously called for "a cup of tea" to slow the economic reform juggernaut engineered by Sir Roger.
So Helen is now saying that she signalled to Lange her opposition to the Flat-tax package after it had been adopted by Cabinet and publicly announced? In other words, Lange's recollection that she had said nothing in Cabinet was accurate? While I freely concede that Lange is being spiteful, it's hard to describe Helen's actions in such a way as to put her in a favourable light without taking liberties with the truth.

Helen Clark: "A very heroic drive"

More embarassing evidence for Helen Clark was heard today in the court trying the five police drivers and one other for dangerous driving. Clint Vallender, during a taped interview, had declared:
He relayed flight options from Christchurch to Wellington to another officer, who informed the Prime Minister and her press secretary David Lewis.

When he came back he said they wanted the 16.50 flight, and they wanted a police car in front as an escort.
TVNZ reports in a report not yet up on their site that at the conclusion of the drive, Helen turned to the drivers and described it as "very heroic". When discussing the matter before, I pointed out that Helen's defence is that a) she was engrossed with her paperwork and b) even if she wasn't, she wouldn't have seen anything unusual as Jim Sutton had testified. a) has been contradicted by the videoed statements of Constable Vincent played in court last week while her reported recognition of the drive as "very heroic" contradicts b). If true, I think it high time that Helen show a fraction of the heroism that she praised in her drivers and take full responsibility for the drive.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Clark responds to Lange's charges

Helen Clark responded today to Lange's accusations that she had sold out to Roger Douglas. Her first point, oddly, is to point out that she didn't vote for Lange as party leader but for Russell Marshall. Clark deserves some kudos for this admission of political foolishness which is only to be expected for a first term MP.

Clark then says that she sided with Lange over "planned asset sales and economic liberalisation". However Lange's specific charge was about the Flat-Tax package, which is not quite something that is covered by the concept of economic liberalisation. Moreover the context of the quote is about her relationship with Lange as part leader rather than her performance in Cabinet. Since Lange was identified with economic liberalisation during his first term as Prime Minister, Clark could have been pointing out that she saw the reforms as necessary as opposed to Jim Anderton who did not.

Clark then defends her attitude during the cabinet fights by pointing out that she had no power as No. 17 (does the current No. 17, Rick Barker, agree?) and that she was only one of the four who supported Lange. But Michael Cullen was similarly placed in the Cabinet pecking order and was more vocal in his support. She might have a case if she means that her presence during the debate signalled moral support for Lange's cause as opposed to someone like Margaret Shields who simply didn't turned up. Given that Bob Tizard was noted as taking potshots at Douglas, Lange's perception of her as being bought looks to me a fair characterization of what happened.

Lastly Clark points out that she saved State Housing from privatisation. This can't have been very difficult as Lange says that her price was continued supply for the Housing department. More importantly didn't she realize that if Douglas was successful in implementing a flat-tax regime, there was nothing to stop him from selling off State Housing as part of the reduction of government services that would have resulted?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lange on Clark, Cullen and Goff

David Lange has some rather unflattering things to say about the three most powerful people in the government. When the fourth Labour Cabinet was split after the repudiation of the Flat-Tax package, Phil Goff "liked to be in the majority". It's well known that he was a Rogernome then so this characterization of his position is simply cheap.

Michael Cullen is curiously described as being "close to tears" in the Cabinet fights although Lange softens the blow by saying that it was not a sign of weakness and suggests that it was out of frustration instead. I suspect that Lange's positive spin is a reward for Cullen for having stood up for him earlier in the Flat-tax debates but the whole passage still comes across as extremely odd.

Most damaging is the treatment meted out to Helen Clark. Lange describes how he placed her in Housing to protect it from the onslaught of Douglas's reforms. So how did Helen perform? Lange states that:
Douglas bought Clark off by promising supply in her housing portfolio. She responded by putting her head down. I do not recall her buying into any fight we ever had in Cabinet.
Ouch. Despite being placed in the context of the Cabinet Split, Lange conveys the impression that Clark was bought off by Douglas as soon as she entered Cabinet because she did not argue against the introduction of the Flat-tax package, unlike Michael Cullen.

However I don't believe her behaviour at this point can be attributed solely to being bought by Douglas. John Tamihere said in his infamous Investigate interview that:
But [Clark]’s no good with emotions. She goes to pieces. She’ll fold on the emotional side and walk away or not turn up. She knows it’s going to get emotional and it upsets her.
So, in my opinion, Clark's engrossment with her paperwork sounds like an avoidance of extreme emotion rather than a sign that her loyalty was bought although it was to some unknown extent. That said, I'm amazed that John Tamihere could be so much more perceptive than David Lange.

A guide to David Lange's memoirs

Extracts from David Lange's memoirs were published today in both the Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday. As can be expected from David Lange, the extracts are juicy, funny and self-serving. An example is when his cousin, Dr Michael Bassett, is told that he was being shifted from the Ministry of Health to Internal Affairs:
"This is a mistake," he said through very tight lips. He told me at one point that he would never speak to me again unless he had to, so the news was not all bad.
Many of the events that he speaks about often have details that Lange leaves unsaid. For example:
In 1988, when he was taken to hospital with heart disease, Lange asked Palmer to return from overseas to be acting prime minister. He did not want Mike Moore to do the job.

"This led to my parting of the ways with Mike Moore – who was hurt and disappointed at my passing him over. But God alone knew what Moore might do. There was no need for divine guidance when it came to Palmer's stewardship."
However from the Tom Scott's documentary "Reluctant Revolutionary", which screened last year and I blogged about it here, we were informed that Lange's colleagues were so upset about his speech at Yale that the ANZUS treaty was a dead letter, they were about to take serious measures. Lange escaped retribution largely because he was hospitalized for angina after he returned home which cause a upswelling of public sympathy for him. In that context, Lange's recall of Palmer looks more like a measure to forestall a coup rather than preventing Moore from screwing the country up.

Similarly in the leadup to his reversal of the flat-tax package, we are not told that while Douglas was out of the country, Lange had a cabinet meeting in which he discussed his concerns about the package. The result of that meeting, again revealed in "Reluctant Revolutionary" was that Lange gave his word to the Cabinet that he wouldn't do anything until Douglas had returned and a meeting was held to thrash out his concerns. But Lange didn't keep his word and the rest was history. If you ever wanted to know why Bassett was "venemous", that's why.

A final episode that Lange doesn't mention concerns his affair with Margaret Pope. Although he states that "an understanding" was reached in February 1985 around the time of the Oxford debate (answering something that had previously puzzled me), he states:
The only colleague who spoke to him about it was deputy prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, "who thought it his duty to warn me".

In mid-1985 he asked Lange if he knew about the gossip. "'I know,' I said. 'I'm flattered and she's embarrassed,'" Lange writes. "I changed the subject before he could ask me anything else."
Again that's not so. Richard Prebble also spoke to Lange about the matter. From my blog post about "Reluctant Revolutionary":
The funniest anecdote was Prebble upon hearing the rumours that Lange is having an affair with Margaret [Pope]. 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.
I'll blog on what he says about our leaders in another post.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Helen Clark: Safe at any speed?

The Speeding Prime Minister case has now ended its first week with the defence starting to present its evidence. Testimony from David Lewis, Helen Clark's press secretary, and Inspector Gaskin, the police area commander, has revealed that when the decision to drive from Waimate to Christchurch was made, speeding was not discussed nor did Helen order any speeding.

However once Helen saw how fast the convoy was going, didn't she have an obligation to tell her convoy to slow down? Helen has two possible defences. Firstly she claimed shortly after the event that she was engrossed in her paperwork. Secondly Jim Sutton, the Agriculture Minister, has testified for the defence saying that he knew the cars were going fast, just not how fast. So even if Helen wasn't engrossed in her paperwork, she would have been unaware of the dangerously high level of speeds reached.

However the first claim has been contradicted by the driver of Helen's Car in a police interview taken three weeks after the event:
"I could see her, she was seated behind the driver and she was leaning over to her left, more towards the centre of vehicle so she could look ahead," Simon Vincent said in a taped interview.

"She was looking in my direction past her driver...I don't know if she could see the speedo or not...she was definitely looking in my direction and I was looking at her face in the glimpses that I could see," he said.

"She was smiling and appeared to be enjoying the ride is how I would put it.

"Most definitely aware of what was going on in front of her and around her, and I can't recall her being engrossed in any paperwork."
Oops. Legally Helen's still in the clear (due to the testimony of Jim Sutton) but politically she has apparently just been caught telling a lie, which is not good for her electoral campaign.

Given the nature of the trial, there is unlikely to be any direct assaults on Helen Clark's credibility next week. It's not a legal defencee for the drivers to blame Clark while the prosecution has no interest in attacking her. I do get the impression of backroom deals for Jim's testimony looks to me like a pay-off to pacify the defence.

One final point interests me. On Tuesday, the Opposition raised questions about the matter during question time (Question No. 1):
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How could she not know about the speed of the car she was travelling in on the day in question, when the windscreen of her car had to be repaired and replaced, and a front paint job done because of the gravel and stones coming off the car in front of her car, the one she was riding in, and would not that be something she would notice in her busy schedule of reading her documents, at 140 kilometres an hour?
That hasn't been bought up by the prosecution as far as I can tell yet I would have thought it relevant to the question of dangerous driving (which means that the defence are unlikely to bring it up. Neither Helen Clark nor Jim Sutton would dispute the cracked windshield in the House yet it appears to discredit Jim's testimony that he saw nothing dangerous. It's unlikely to be discussed during the trial but it is something that I would expect to be answered after the verdict.