Red Alert

Archive for June, 2010

I/s on Finlayson

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

No Right Turn Gets it :-

So, National has responded to Chris Finlayson’s contemptuous refusal to fully disclose his pecuniary interests by calling for the rules to be reviewed to allow more opportunities for MPs to hide their interests. In other words, change the rules to make it legal. Why am I not surprised? National’s pretext is that the rules are “confusing”. I think not. Here for example is the clause Finlayson fell afoul of:

1) Every return of pecuniary interests must contain the following information as at the effective date of the return: (a) the name of each company of which the member is a director or holds or controls more than 5 percent of the voting rights and a description of the main business activities of each of those companies, and…

The agenda here is clearly more secrecy around MP’s business interests. And that runs directly counter to clean government and open democracy. These rules are the first line of defence against corruption. The fact that MPs must declare their interests helps prevent them from attempting to enrich themselves while in office. If anything, the rules need to be strengthened (by e.g. busting trusts and forcing MPs to declare everything), not weakened. But National has always opposed this sort of transparency, and they are taking the opportunity to roll it back. And we will all be the losers if we allow them to get away with it.

As I noted earlier, only a lawyer with a desire to hide things could convince themselves to ignore the plain reading of the words for a perverse, self-serving interpretation that it allowed some directorships to not be declared. And only a lawyer with a desire to hide things would think that the appropriate way of resolving such “confusion” was to pay another lawyer to say what you wanted them to say give an “independent” opinion, rather than ask the registrar directly.


The end of Te Hurihanga

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

Today Te Hurihanga closed its doors.  Some of you will remember me talking about this programme- it was a youth justice facility based in Hamilton and run by the Youth Horizons Trust. It focused on young offenders who had pretty long lists of offences to their names, working solidly with them and their families for 18 months.

Te Hurihanga was good. It worked. We know that because it was one of the few youth justice programmes operating in New Zealand that was evidence based, and evaluated.

Earlier this year Simon Power announced he would close Te Hurihanga, and today it did. And why?  He said it cost too much. A battle raged for a while over the figures- but whichever set of numbers you choose to believe the fact remains, it was still cheaper than the long term cost of imprisoning some of these young people for even just a few years- which is where most of them were heading.

But what happens now?  Back in February Simon Power claimed there would be an “open tender process”  to replace Te Hurihanga, but 5 months on we were told via select committee questions that “Child, Youth and family will manage the Te Hurihanga facility. This will not be contracted.”

This all leaves me with two questions.  How can the Minister claim Te Hurihanga was “too expensive” when he refuses to estimate, despite repeated questions, how much a repeat youth offender costs our criminal justice system, let alone our communities?  And if he can’t tell me this, what measure is he using to determine the value of a programme, and whether it is indeed “too expensive.”  And secondly, will the new service that CYFs establishes to replace Te Hurihanga be evidence based and evaluated in the same way that Te Hurihanga was? 

Until those questions are answered, I will continue to believe this was a short sighted call by the Government- and a really sad day for Te Hurihanga.


Goodbye shared equity scheme

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

As of tomorrow Labour’s Shared Equity pilot will end and the Government has made it clear they will not be providing any funding for it to continue.  This is despite Phil Heatley promising before the election that they would keep it at least until their Gateway scheme becomes available. The Gateway scheme has been missing in action since the election (and received no funding in the Budget) although we’re promised that some sections will be made available “soon”.

There is no doubt that the uptake of shared equity during the pilot was low. I’m not questioning that at all. But when Housing New Zealand was asked why this was, Senior Communications Adviser Michelle Williams revealed that Housing New Zealand was told to stop promoting the scheme after the 2008 election. Heatley confirmed this in the House today saying he didnt want to waste money on “advertising”.

The shared equity pilot started in July 2008. This means for twenty of the twenty-four months that the pilot was operating it wasn’t being promoted. Heatley says he just wanted to save money, but why waste money carrying out a pilot, at the end of which you have no idea whether the low uptake is due to it not working, the recession, or simply the fact that no one knows it exists.

Housing New Zealand are quite clear on why the uptake was so low saying that “Initial forecasting for this product suggested funding would be required for approximately 700 loans over the two-year pilot phase.  This has not been the case due to a change of government and subsequently change in focus. Coupled with no promotion and low awareness of product, demand has been very low.”

So not because it doesn’t work. Not because it has no potential in the future. Because people don’t know it exists. What a waste of time and money.


Locked out no more

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

Pleased to hear that 13 days after the Rendezvous Hotel locked its housekeeping workforce out, a settlement has been reached. 

The deal is a pay increase of up to 2% for a one-year term, with no cuts to the seven days of sick leave the workers are entitled to.

It took 11 hours of mediation, Employment Court hearings, 13 days of no pay for the workers and a tarnished reputation for the 4.5 star hotel.

I have to question whether it was worth it for the Hotel to to fight so hard over 1 day’s sick leave and an extra 0.5% pay increase, given the inevitable loss of business and standing.


Finlayson scuttling like trapped rat

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

What has the world come to.

The Attorney General of New Zealand has lost his nerve.

Too scared to come to the house past the media scum. scrum.  (apologies to the noble journalists)

Now comes through the basement.


Tibet, Norman and the freedom of speech

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman should be congratulated on successfully winning the game of name recognition.

When Dr Norman dangled the Tibetan flag in front of the visiting Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, repeating the words “freedom for Tibet, freedom for the people of Tibet”, wide debate instantly raged within the Chinese community in New Zealand.

Chinese community leaders demanded an apology from the Greens co-leader. Jerry Yang, editor-in-chief of Auckland-based United Chinese Press (published in both Chinese and English) said Dr Norman should apologise for abusing his position as an MP and stretching the boundaries of freedom of expression.

Based on the take of the opinion leaders there are two approaches to help us understand the relevant issues – a selfish approach and conversely, an open approach.

For some, they care more about the living standard and well-being of ordinary New Zealanders than the Dalai Lama, who lives thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. In that regard, how much damage has been done to our relationship with China, our second largest trading partner, due to Dr Norman’s actions remains to be assessed.

For the others, the real essence of human rights and freedom of speech should be argued.

In that vein, when National MP and Minister for Ethnic Affairs Hon Pansy Wong expressed her view in the Chinese media that Dr Norman’s actions were disgraceful, it struck a chord among the Kiwi-Chinese community.

(more…)


Agile and quality media. How do we get it?

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

Last week’s events in Canberra changing the leadership of the Australian Labor Party were huge from a media perspective. Janet Albrechtsen writes in The Australian how Sky TV News covered the story like no other broadcaster, with agility and flexibility. Unlike the lumbering ABC, the public broadcaster.

Read this excerpt and reflect:

After Wednesday, is the ABC asking itself whether it has the energy and team spirit that kicks in so readily at its poor cable cousin at Sky? Does it understand the urgency of 24-hour news, where mistakes will be made and quickly corrected? Or will the monolithic ABC, even with a 24-hour news channel, fall victim to its culture of bureaucratic paralysis and infighting between fiefdoms?

Last weekend on SBS, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was asked what he did on Wednesday night. He recalled “getting all these phone calls from journalists asking ‘What’s happening? What are you doing?’.” He replied: “Well, I’m sitting in my office all alone watching Sky News like you are.” What a disgrace that the federal minister who funds the ABC could not get the story from our national broadcaster.

It might surprise you to know that I agree with her. Though I’d add that much of the breaking news came via Twitter, which is leading the way for how breaking news events are starting to be delivered in real time.

I, like many of my colleagues, watched Australian Sky TV via the Sky news service in Parliament.

We don’t have an equivalent Sky TV News service in NZ. We don’t have an equivalent news service, really. I’d like to see a modern, adaptive, flexible news service. I’d also like it to be a public news service, or at least partly. But we’ve got some real thinking to do about how to make that happen.

But read the piece and tell me what you think.


Olympics in Auckland – Banks takes the piss ?

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

The Mayor of Auckland John Banks appears to have taken leave of his senses in suggesting Auckland could host the Olympics.

I don’t have a figure as to the cost but it would be several billion dollars.

The government, quite properly in my opinion, decided not to support a Commonwealth games bid on the basis that the cost/benefit didn’t add up. You probably add three zeros to the Comm Games costs to get a figure for the Olympics.

The Olympics ended in tears for the Athens and Sydney hosts, costings are blowing out to high heaven in London and we don’t have the resources of China.

I sometimes get on ok with Banksie but on this one I think he is taking the piss.


The Naked Economist: Part 2

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

So what does the end of the Washington Consensus mean for economic policy?

Firstly, borne out of the Great recession, there are no certainties – including whether the recession is yet over or, as increasing numbers of pundits from Krugman and Stiglitz on down are warning, we are in for a further deflationary spiral. 

Assuming no immediate major further meltdowns, we can probably draw some interim conclusions.

First, stable inflation will continue to matter, but should not be the only policy target.  It follows that monetary policy cannot rest on one tool, the OCR.  The number of tools should always exceed the number of targets.  

The OCR is a poor tool to target excess risk taking or asset bubbles.  IMF Chief Economist Blanchard recommends combining monetary and regulatory policy, such as countercyclical liquidity and prudential ratios, and directly targeting problem sectors such as housing. 

If this sounds familiar, no wonder.  The Governor of our own Reserve Bank has been quietly moving towards this in line with the other G20 central banks.   Isn’t it ironic that in New Zealand the only institution really defending the old status quo is the Beehive. 

Second, realistic stable exchange rates are crucial to small, open, trading economies.  This is what our export sector has been saying for years.  Now the IMF recommends central banks use reserve accumulation and sterilised intervention to do just that.  Labour has pledged to investigate reasonable means to help reduce the volatility of the NZ dollar, one of the most outrageously over-traded currencies on the planet.

Third, when investors desert key markets, the case for publicly supplied finance (liquidity provision) can be compelling.  However that implies that there is monetary and/or fiscal headroom available to offset a major recession (not necessarily true of some of the major western economies, worryingly).

It also implies that once recovery is firmly in place stimulus can be eased off in a way that is scially and economically sustainable.  Arguably Cameron’s Tory Budget violates that principle with slash and burn polices that could tip the UK back into recession, and even deflation.

Finally, Blanchard recommends counter-cyclical fiscal policy, augmented where appropriate by automatic fiscal stabilisers such as cyclical investment tax credits or enhanced transfers to low-income households. 

Counter-cyclical fiscal settings are not new to us and were used successfully under the last Labour Government (which reduced net debt to zero alongside full employment).  But automating that process would require careful thought.  One option used in other small open economies like Singapore is a countercyclical savings policy.   

This is all food for thought.  It is high time for our government started thinking.  But increasingly New Zealanders are looking for fresh ideas in the absence of a Beehive that seems capable of new thinking.

In Part 3 I will point to some of the areas, post Budget 2010, where Labour believes a new emphasis is needed.


Wednesday poll – should priority access to NZ state schools be an inherited right for descendants of old pupils?

Posted by on June 30th, 2010

Currently most New Zealand state schools have no enrolment schemes and anyone of an appropriate age can attend.

Where the school is full an enrolment scheme is introduced which gives entry rights to students who live close to a school and an entry priority to siblings. There is then a ballot for any spare places.

Anne Tolley has introduced legislation to give priority of entry to descendants of former pupils. Sort of inherited rights.

Doesn’t sit well with me. What do you think?

Should priority access to NZ state schools be an inherited right for descendants of old pupils?

  • No (72%, 138 Votes)
  • Yes (28%, 54 Votes)

Total Voters: 192

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The Naked Economist: Part 1

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

There has been a quiet revolution underway in economics in the wake of the global financial crisis.  The “Washington Consensus” is no longer a consensus.  The “Great Moderation” has become a Memphis meltdown.

 As in most revolutions, pressure begins gradually.  Someone then states what is already obvious to all: the “Emperor has no clothes”.  Suddenly, orthodoxy crumbles.  As shown by the recent Toronto G20 summit, in 2010 orthodox economics stands suddenly naked. 

 The foundations have been shaking for a while.  Assumptions of “rationality” have taken a hit from “behavioural economics”.  Stock markets over-react due to fear and greed.  Trickle down trickles up.  Asset bubbles inflate then burst, as in 2008.

For me the “no clothes” moment for macroeconomics happened in February this year.  The Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Olivier Blanchard, released a ‘position note’ entitled “Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy”. 

Early local media pickup focused on monetary policy, noting Labour’s recently announced withdrawal from the previous monetary consensus.  This has been comprehensively confirmed in two speeches last week by Phil Goff and David Parker.

Blanchard’s critique of “What We Thought We Knew” is, however, much broader than earlier local reaction:

  •  Monetary policy had one target, inflation, and one tool, the policy rate (our ‘official cash rate’ (OCR)).  With low, stable inflation the ‘output gap’ (unemployment) would be small and monetary policy would always do its job: spot the Tui billboard moment.
  • Fiscal policy (government spending and taxing) was secondary at best: hopelessly slow, un-necessary if monetary policy was sound, and subject to nefarious political influence. 
  • Some financial regulation was ok but financial intermediation (leverage, derivatives and stuff) didn’t matter much in terms of managing the broader economy. 

Welcome to the Washington Consensus:  “By the mid-2000s, it was not unreasonable to think that better macroeconomic policy could deliver, and indeed had delivered, higher economic stability.  Then the crisis came”.

Recounting “what we have learned”, Blanchard nails with laser-like clarity six home truths for our uncertain new world.

  •  Stable inflation may be necessary but is not sufficient. Housing bubbles, current account deficits and consumptions binges are serious problems.
  • Low inflation limits the scope of monetary policy in a severe recession.  There may not be room to cut policy interest rates far enough to avoid deflation.
  • Financial intermediation matters.  When financial markets are segmented and arbitrage (interest rate pass-through) breaks down, the OCR no longer works as a policy tool.  Our 2009 Parliamentary Banking Inquiry found just that.
  • Counter-cyclical fiscal policy is an important tool.  Take a bow Michael Cullen, who cut Crown debt by saving surpluses then timed perfectly the recession-fighting 2008 Budget.  That gave NZ a buffer to limit the 2008-09 slump.
  • Regulation is not macro-economically neutral. Weaknesses in US financial regulation amplified a local property crash into a global crisis.  More generally, deregulation is no cure-all (not welcome news in the current Beehive).
  • The “Great Moderation” looked good for so long because it coped with small imbalances and had not faced the full consequences of understated systemic risk, especially around financial leverage and exchange rate exposure.

So what does this all mean for the next generation of policy makers?  The next era should retain the best of the previous consensus, while creatively addressing the challenges that previously lay outside it.    

Part 2 of this post will follow shortly.   Comment is welcome on Blanchard’s critique.


Economics for Everyone #2

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

I said I would post as I work my way through Jim Stanford’s book, “Economics for Everyone”.  It’s important to note that the book is designtonybiddlecartoon1ed for the grassroots, for activists and for those who feel disempowered by current economic debate. I apologise in advance to all of those with superior knowledge and understanding of economics, but the appeal of this book is making it accessible to ordinary human beings like me.  

Like many of you, I tend to graze through a book like this, rather than religiously follow it chapter to chapter, so my posts will leap around a bit.

In chapter 2, “Capitalism – one kind of economy” Stanford sets out to describe what he calls the “C-word”.

“We live in a Capitalist economy, so we might as well name it… more importantly, we might as well understand what we are dealing with.”

Capitalism is a relatively new phenomenon.  Human beings have lived on the planet for 200,000 years and there’s been an economy all that time, because we’ve always had to work to meet the needs of survival (food, clothing, shelter).  Yet Capitalism is only around 300 years old.  Students of economics will know all this stuff, so I won’t dwell on it, but what I found particularly interesting was his analysis of the “kinds of capitalism,” in Chapter 3.

Stanford argues is that even under neoliberalism and despite the pressures of globalisation, there are still clear differences. There are four broad “types” of capitalism among the developed countries in the world. They operate very differently in terms of how harshly workers are treated, how economically active government is, and the sectoral make-up of the economy. The “Anglo Saxon” version of capitalism (which could include New Zealand), is the most unequal of all.

It is characterised by small government (where the NACTs want to head), an overdeveloped financial sector (the US), big gaps in inequalities (definitely here) and lower union density.

There’s more to come. I’m particularly exercised by Chapter 8 – workers and bosses – why labour is different – and am looking forward to a robust debate on this one!


Common Sense from the High Court on Adoption – Now it’s Parliament’s Turn

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

Last week, a full court of the High Court (this means 2 judges – commonly the way that test cases are heard and decided) significantly widened the pool of adults who can legally volunteer to adopt children in New Zealand.

The last time Parliament considered the issue was back in 1955 when it passed the current Adoption Act. Not surprisingly, given the values of the time, Parliament restricted eligibility to adopt to married couples by the use of the word “spouse” in the Act. When the civil unions and relationship property acts were passed, the definitions in the Adoption Act were left unchanged.

The test case came before Justices John Wild and Simon France, both highly regarded members of the Court. What they had to decide was whether the term ‘spouse’ as used in the Adoption Act 1955 should be interpreted today as including unmarried people living together. It was argued that it should, largely because the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, as enacted in 1990, contains a prohibition of discrimination on the ground of martial status. The Bill requires an outcome consistent with its provisions wherever possible.

The Court found that, to give effect to the ban on marital status discrimination, it had to interpret the word “spouse” as including people in de-facto relationships. The parties to the case had agreed that the interpretation they were seeking extended only to test whether heterosexual relationships were included in the ruling, and the Court records this limitation in its reasons for judgment.

However, logically, the ruling extends eligibility to be considered for adoption to anyone in a marriage, civil union or (straight or gay) de-facto relationship. This is so for two reasons – the definition of “marital status” and the fact that “sexual orientation” is also a ground of prohibited discrimination in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The number of adoptions that actually occur each year in New Zealand is small -guardianship and other legal forms allowing for the care of children without legally extinguishing the birth relationship are more usual these days. But the decision is important. Children who are in need of adoptive parents should have the right to have those parents selected from the widest pool of appropriately-qualified people possible. Unless amended, the current Act, as now interpreted by the High Court, restricts them to people in a relationship. At some point soon Parliament should widen the pool further. Who can seriously argue today that single, or divorced, or widowed people can’t make great parents? And as you would imagine, there are other anomalies in legislation that is now 65 years old that need fixing up.

Right now, though, it’s good to read a sensible decision from our Hight Court that shows the Bill of Rights to be a valuable tool in keeping the law up to date.


Naming the elephants #1

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

Right now it feels as though there’s a few elephants in the room that need to be named.

Today’s is Telecom and the relationship it has to the Govt’s $1.5 million  $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband rollout.

There’s currently a tender process underway for the big contract with Govt to do the rollout. That process has a nominal deadline of 30 June for the initial partner selection process and contracts to be completed by Crown Fibre Holdings, the Govt entity set up to manage the UFB process.

Despite the Minister saying he was confident that the timetable remained on track, it’s hard to see how. Because concurrently we have the extraordinary situation of Telecom deciding whether to separate its business in order to qualify as a UFB  bidder. It’s obvious to everyone that they desperately want to and need to be in the running. And that the Govt expects them to be in.

Meanwhile the Govt is pretending that it’s oblivious to Telecom’s very public twisting and turning. Until last Thursday, when Steven Joyce came before the Commerce Select Committee and acknowledged that the Government has not ruled out taking an equity stake in Telecom’s network arm, Chorus.

Joyce has this uncanny ability to make extraordinary statements sound ho hum. But it wasn’t ho hum. For the first time he said the Govt would be prepared to invest in Chorus in new fibre infrastructure. The DomPost reported on this exchange last Friday. Update: There have been several stories today on the liklihood of delays.

I said after the select committee that I believed the tendering process was now in question and could have been undermined. I’m saying that again.

This is public money. Crown Fibre Holdings are trying to manage a tendering process under very difficult circumstances. But the public has no idea what’s going on.

The process is approaching a farce. It’s being called a farce privately by commentators and other bidders.

It’s clear that Telecom’s involvement in UFB is nto a matter of  if, but how. And it’s time to call it what it is. Steven Joyce can’t get away with pretending that the Govt has no interest in what Telecom is doing re structural separation. Perhaps it’s time to call a halt to the bidding process until Telecom works out what it’s going to do.

Getting ultrafast broadband right is in the national interest. Let’s not have a situation where there’s a major cloud over the decision on who got the contract to lay it out.


Back benches this week

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s  topics!

ETS DEADLINE: On Thursday, the nation’s new Emissions Trading Scheme comes into force. While the scheme has fewer teeth than originally planned, farmers plan to fight the new scheme until the end. Will the ETS unfairly hit us in the pocket? Or is it the cost of playing our part on the world stage?

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Cuts to Early Childhood Education has left several centres considering leaving the “20 hours free” scheme. And if they do—those costs get passed onto parents. Are we doing our youngest citizens a disservice by not funding early childhood education? Or do early childhood education centres need to find new ways of adjusting to the funding changes and if so should that include firing staff as they become qualified?

Live  pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of June at 9pm, drinking from 7ish. The panel: ACT MP John Boscawen, Green MP Metiria Turei, Labour MP David Parker, and National MP Tim Macindoe

Filed under: media

Poll – should smoking in prisons be banned?

Posted by on June 29th, 2010

Late Monday poll – sorry.

Lots of debate over the last 24 hours on smoking in prisons.  Some say this is a naked Collins appeal to rednecks, others say she is genuine and is worried about government legal liabilities in 25 years time, some say she cares deeply about prisoner health, others say it is the first step in a government move to totally ban smoking, still others that it will make prisons even harder to control, increase smuggling, push prisoners towards P which is more easily smuggled and place guards at risk.

What do you think?

Should smoking in prisons be banned?

  • Yes (66%, 280 Votes)
  • No (34%, 144 Votes)

Total Voters: 424

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Declaration of pecuniary interests 201

Posted by on June 28th, 2010

I  recently won some prizemoney through my part time role as a semi professional cyclist. Told them to keep the cash for cycling youth development fund but will declare it in my next return.

Minor stuff. No one would care if I didn’t. But the rules, in my opinion, require it.

Not sure why Chris Finlayson thinks he is above the law. Attorney-General. Weird.


Broadcast news

Posted by on June 28th, 2010

TVNZ’s programme on 50 years of television news last night was better than the earlier and awful game show – but sorry,  no cigar.

Our (still) state broadcaster was given the opportunity do a documentary series to mark half a century of the medium it has dominated. The series was funded by NZ On Air but TVNZ turned it down only for it to be picked up by Sky’s Prime channel. The first Prime doco appeared as TVNZ was handing over its  vaults of programming to Sky for its new Heartland channel; short-term cash over long-term strategy. The same week as the launch of Heartland, TVNZ ran its game show look at NZ television. It rated – and that’s all that counts these days – even if many of us, including TVNZ’s Paul Henry as reported yesterday, thought it truly ghastly. 

 TVNZ then put together last night’s programme to screen last night at the 8.30 timeslot,  directly competing with Prime’s ‘Fifty Years’ third episode which was also to be centred around news and current affairs. Prime moved this programme forward in the schedule to avoid the head-to-head competition.

Ah, the benefits to viewers of  ratings-driven television.  

For all that, good to see some of the best of TVNZ’s news/current affairs talent back on screen last night – unforgettable images of Simon Walker trying to ask questions of Muldoon, Liam Jeory on the tumbling Berlin Wall, methinks a young Rod Vaughan on Seatoun beach on Wahine Day. And Paul Henry co-hosting the show and promoting the importance of balance!

Filed under: Television

Declaration of pecuniary interests 101

Posted by on June 27th, 2010

Alll this stuff about Chris Finlayson not declaring his company directorship is interesting and puzzling.

Before being elected to parliament, I was the sole Director of Inzight Communications (my little company based in Dunedin) and I resigned as Director on the morning of 9 November 2008 ( day after election).

But when I filled out the pecuniary interest declaration in January 2009 I sought advice (from the Registrar’s office) and was told I needed to declare my directorship because I was still a Director on  8 November 2008, the day of the election. Which I duly did.

I have stuff-all assets (house, section and a bit of super) but I’ve sought advice from the office of the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests several times. Because I want to get it right. So why does Chris Finlayson allegedly seek advice from his lawyer and not from the Registrar’s Office?

I’m a first term MP. How long has he been in parliament?


The end of days

Posted by on June 27th, 2010

How can we survive as a species if we treat so many other species with disdain?

The Atlantic bluefin tuna, when prepared as sushi, is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. It’s a fish that regularly journeys between America and Europe and whose two populations, or “stocks,” have both been catastrophically overexploited.

I’ve eaten bluefin a few times. It’s exquisite. I don’t think I ever will again.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of only two known Atlantic bluefin spawning grounds, has only intensified the crisis.

By some estimates, there may be only 9,000 of the most ecologically vital megabreeders left in the fish’s North American stock, enough for the entire population of New York to have a final bite (or two) of high-grade otoro sushi. The Mediterranean stock of bluefin, historically a larger population than the North American one, has declined drastically as well.

These are exerpts from a New York Times article by Paul Greenberg, called Tuna’s End.

It’s quite long, but compelling. And it’s a warning to us. Not that we’ll heed it.

Sorry to be depressing.

Hat-tip @juhasaarinen (via Twitter)

Disclosure: I was on the Board of Greenpeace NZ from 2006-07