Red Alert

Archive for April, 2011

Big Australia

Posted by on April 30th, 2011

You may have heard of the Big Australia policy – a push for Australia’s population to stretch from 22m to 35m by 2050. One of its key advocates is demographer Bernard Salt who yesterday addressed ACPAC, the conference of Australasian public accounts committees, meeting in Perth, which as an FEC member I am attending with chair Craig Foss.

Salt peppered his address with plenty of NZ references. How we parallel Australia in farm aggregation pushing us to increasingly live on or near the coast, how we face a ‘man drought’ – from about age 22 there are more females than males, peaking at age 35 with a 12% disparity. ( A key part of that being more young Kiwi men than women heading to Australia, in particular, for higher paid work. Salt noted that we have around 550,000 NZers living in Australia and if you tote up the rest, the thick end of one million Kiwis living overseas.

Meanwhile, 2011 sees the first baby boomers turning 65 and able to retire with a pension.  For Australia that means while last year it had a net gain of 250.000 people coming into the workforce, this year it’s only at best 150,000. Maintaining any net gain of workers vs retirees each year can only be maintained if Australia keeps up its acceptance of migrants.

Salt notes that when Japan’s demographic fault line occured in 1994 – more retiring than starting work – the Japanese economy stalled and has never recovered. Baby boomer Australians can now expect to live till 85 on average; 40 years ago it was 72. NZ figures will be similar. My dad died last year at 91; he had been retired 30 years.

Salt argues that Australia needs to actively boost its acceptance of migration to meet increasing life expectancy, to prop up the tax base, fill gaps in the skills base,  meet some humanitarian obligations – and bluntly, because taking 20-somethings that some other country has educated means getting 40 years of work for no earlier costs. (And yes, while this can be seen as “robbing’ third world countries, he maintains that the world is going to get more brutal in competition for resources, and many who chose to live in Australia will repatriate funds home.)

Some big issues here for us to consider. Immigration has long been a key driver of maintaining NZ’s economic growth. I’ve long thought one of the problems is that too many migrants head for Auckland and put infrastructure, the environment and housing costs under further pressure. If there were a mechanism to encourage more migrants into the areas where NZ is depopulating – rural communities, some provincial cities – we would get a win/win; population growth where it’s more needed and better use of public assets at some risk, such as schools and hospitals. I put this to Salt after his address. Turns out he has written recently on the issue and believes there is a case for encouraging migrants who agree to live for a few years in rural/provincial areas. Sure, once they gained permanent residence or citizenship they would be free to live anywhere – but some are likely to have put down roots. Personally there are few parts of NZ which I couldn’t see myself living, if for example, family connections drew me to it.  

I’m not convinced we need a ‘Big New Zealand’ policy. I’d prefer to see us drawing back some of those near 1 million expatriate Kiwis. We did get a boost when the global recession happened but frankly, it’s a big ask with wage rate differentials of 30% across the Tasman. Migration tailed off as a result of the recession but will undoubtedly pick up at some point.  

Steering more new arrivals into areas other than Auckland, especially some of our rural towns and cities, would seem to make sense.

State intervention in social media

Posted by on April 30th, 2011

The importance of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter is evident. The latest example is what appears to have happened in the last couple of days in the UK with Facebook removing dozens of profiles from its site, causing an outcry from campaigners trying to organise anti-austerity protests this weekend.

The Guardian reports:

The deactivated pages include UK Uncut, and pages created by students during last December’s university occupations.

A list posted on the Stop Facebook Purge group says Chesterfield Stop the Cuts, Tower Hamlet Greens, London Student Assembly, Southwark SoS and Bristol Uncut sites are no longer functioning.

Administrators for the profiles say hundreds of links between activists have been broken in the run up to the May Day bank holiday. When users click on URL links the message “the page you requested was not found” now appears.

Online news site Ekklesia reported that:

The social networking site Facebook is facing massive pressure from campaigners, civil liberties activists and journalists tonight after suspending a series of UK-based ‘political’ accounts.

In what University College of London students, UK Uncut and others are calling a ‘purge’ – coinciding with police action against radical and dissenting groups on the day of the royal wedding – more than 50 Facebook pages have been put out of operation.

Among those affected have been Save NHS, Rochdale Law Centre, Tower Hamlets Greens, Bootle Labour, Bristol Bookfair, Westminster Trades Council and London Student Assembly.

Specifically anti-cuts and student protest groups are also targeted. Only progressive or radical groups seem to have been impacted.

At first Facebook refused to comment, but after grassroots digital action and national media reporting (including the Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 television news), the company responded to protesters by suggesting that their action related to a a technical “violation of terms issue” relating to the “wrong” kind of page.

A spokesperson told Channel 4: “The reason all of these profiles came down at once is simple. Facebook’s security tools constantly work to maintain our real name culture by removing profiles that are ‘fake’ or don’t belong to an individual person, but rather a campaign, an animal, or an organisation.”

But critics say this does not explain the apparently selective effect of the action.

It appears there’s been cooperation between the State and a major online networking site to address perceived or actual threats surrounding the Royal Wedding.

The issue for me is not so much whether Facebook should ever interfere with an activist page. Sometimes there may be good reasons, and every online social media site, including Red Alert, must have some rules and standards and make them clear to everyone.

But  what if what appears to be arbitrary censorship and take downs occur, which may have political motives? Affecting the ability of citizens to lawfully protest and object to government policies, or dare I say. Even the Monarchy? That’s the issue. How do you guard against that?

Reagan not good example Don

Posted by on April 30th, 2011

Now I’m closer to sixty than fifty and approaching the mid point in my Parliamentary career seventy doesn’t seem that old.

But Don Brash should probably stop using Ronald Reagan as an example of an older role model.

Reagan was paralysed by Alzheimers through much of his second term.

Or maybe Don has just forgotten that.

A Brash Reminder- Iraq

Posted by on April 30th, 2011

Brash on Iraq War

Policy Advice Review-Perpetuating the Myths

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

Forgive me for this I told you so moment, but it infuriates me. To recap. Last year the government announced a review of policy advice. This was the one where Bill English claimed an alternative was to look on websites for policy, the “government by google” approach.

The announcement of the review came complete with the usual hyping up of Labour’s record on public services.

Between 2003 and 2009, total Government spending on policy advice across all ministries, departments and agencies is estimated to have jumped by more than 70 per cent from about $510 million to $880 million. “This is faster than the already rapid general increase in total Government spending during this period,” Finance Minister Bill English says. “The amount spent on policy advice is now nearly three quarters of the Government’s total annual police budget and it almost matches our annual spending on social housing.

At the time I raised concerns about the “estimate” of spending on policy advice being based, according to the Terms of Reference for the review, on

appropriation data from Budget data files gained by searching on the terms ‘policy’ and ‘policies’ in the title field

Terrific attention to detail there. And now that the report has been produced the Dominion Post reports

At the time the review was announced, the Government claimed policy spending had risen from $510 million in 2003 to $880m in 2009. However, the review – led by former Treasury secretary Graham Scott – found that most of the increase was spent on non-policy-related activities. Excluding the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, overall spending actually declined slightly in real terms over the period.

That’s right, with one exception, spending on policy advice went down in real terms. National has spent a lot of time going on about how Labour increased the back office at the expense of so-called frontline services. But their own report, by the former ACT candidate Graham Scott, finds this is not true.

Will we hear a retraction or apology from Bill English? No, he glosses over it as an estimate, despite making such a big deal of it at the time.

I welcome finding ways of improving policy advice to government, but it is not ok just to make things up that suit the myths you want to spread.

Taxpayer support for Brash?

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

It wasn’t so much a hostile takeover as a buy-out. Don Brash threatened to shut off the money to ACT unless they made him their Leader, in much the same way he threatened to shut off the money to National unless they did the same eight years ago. So now he’ll be leading ACT from outside Parliament until the election in November, when he supposes he’ll be back in Parliament.

All of this begs the question of how ACT will manage without a Leader in Parliament? Over the road the penguin is jumping up and down about Hone Harawira’s taxpayer-funded travel, but at least Hone is a duly elected MP. Will any taxpayer resources go into supporting Don Brash, the non-MP ACT party Leader? Will he have access to their Research Unit and media team? Will any of ACT’s taxpayer funded promotional material have the Don’s mug on them? Will any of their parliamentary staff be reporting to the party Leader?

I’m sure after the fuss they’ve made about the use of parliamentary resources in the past, the National government will go out of their way to ensure the ACT party don’t inappropriately use theirs…

State subsidised wages or bargaining equality?

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

I’m doing this post knowing that it will send the right wingers scurrying to their keyboards in a high dudgeon, but it’s a risk I’m prepared to take. Because, like it or not, we have to have the conversation about the how the inequality of bargaining power has contributed to NZ’s low wages.

I was surprised to find this article in the NZ Herald which very succinctly outlines the link between weakened collective bargaining rights and low wages. The authors, Andrew Gawith and Susan Guthrie, describe how the era of the 1930s and 1940s were labelled the “Great Compression” because the gap in incomes between the haves and the have-nots narrowed significantly.

“The policies that delivered this compression – including a strengthening of collective bargaining regulations, which provided a floor to wages and high tax rates on capital – were follow by unprecedented income and output growth that persisted until the 1970’s.”

By contrast, economist Professor Paul Krugman describes the post-1980s as resembling the “gilded age” of the 1920’s – one characterised by a high and rising concentration of income in the hands of a narrow elite.

Gawith and Guthrie ask :

Do our current labour market laws and institutions deliver the wage “floor” that Krugman (and the IMF) see as valuable to lifting output and incomes?
The fact that we have had to introduce a significant income subsidy – Working for Families – suggests not.

The Employment Contracts Act 1991 undermined the bargaining power of workers, which probably goes some way to explaining why from 1992 to 2009 average real output per worker rose on average by 2% a year, but real wages rose at less than half that price…….”

They go on to describe how the Labour Government recognised that wages were too low, particularly for those trying to raise a family and how Working for Families was introduced to top up the incomes of low and middle income wage workers.

Gawith and Guthrie acknowledge that Working for Families has definitely alleviated financial stress among low and middle income families, but they say it has distorted “market signals”.

Low paid jobs are a traditional route for younger workers to get more experience. However, under Working for Families, low-paid jobs are more likely to be accepted by older workers with dependents; their living costs are higher and not normally covered by a low wage, but unlike younger workers, their take-home pay (thanks to Working for Families) can far exceed what the employer pays.

That’s an interesting proposition. Not sure if I totally agree, because my experience of low wage workers is that’s it’s far more complex than that. However, they make the point that experienced workers being employed in jobs that don’t use their full potential detracts from productivity growth and because of Working for Families, they are employed at “artificially” low wages to the detriment of workers without dependents.

And I like this :

Rather than chasing the dream of matching Australian incomes, let’s first make sure workers with families can live with dignity from the wages their employers pay them instead of having to rely on selective income subsidies from the Government. That may involve giving workers more bargaining power to negotiate an increase in their share of national income. That should be a step towards narrowing the distribution of income and wealth in New Zealand which has broadened over the past three decades and may be cramping our ability to grow.”

And this :

“Joseph Stiglitz states that ….”growing inequality is the flip side of something else : shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means we are not using some of our most valued assets – our people – in the most productive way possible.”

Expect to hear more from Labour on these themes.

Don Brash and Peter Dunne- Lest We Forget

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

Its been fascinating to hear Peter Dunne’s strident condemnation of a Don Brash led ACT Party in the last few days.

“Don Brash is a rigid right-wing ideologue – give him influence and a hand on power and watch the New Zealand we know become a harsher, more brutal place,” Mr Dunne said.

I could not agree more. But could this be the same Peter Dunne who in 2005 was part of a slightly odd photo opportunity (pictured above), that “cleared the way” for a coalition between Mr Dunne’s United Future Party and the Dr Brash led National Party. Surely not.

Alas yes. Peter Dunne really is the Groucho Marx of NZ Politics. ” Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them, well, I have others.”

PS If you want to see the coffee date in action, it is in part four of the Hollow Men documentary, which you can find here

Paula Bennett then and now

Posted by on April 29th, 2011

I came across a YouTube video of Paula Bennett from February 2008 when she was in Opposition.

She says all the right things about kids and families and tries to push all the right buttons. She says how she had just been to a conference with child experts and talks about the role of the state in supporting families to bring up their kids

She also talks about the need for New Zealand to have a national debate – a national conversation about “the issues”. Three years later, the only national conversation she’s having is with herself!

The contrast with her actions while in government and, most recently, her non-appearance at a high-powered gathering of early child development professionals and practitioners is staggering.

The all-day event Programme 18 April 2011 last week in Wellington included a who’s who of New Zealand experts on early child development. Paula Bennett was invited but didn’t bother to reply. In fact, no representative from the National Party turned up.

The PM’s science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman was meant to be there but says his failure at the last minute to appear was because a meeting with a government ministry took longer than expected. He strongly denies he was instructed not to attend by National.

I spoke during the panel discussion and outlined Labour’s vision for kids

It’s an a amazing turnaround by Ms Bennett in just three years – and from a minister who says she worries every day about the mistreatment of children in New Zealand.

Her no-show came a day after she announced an initiative to put “priority on children” – calling for green and white papers on child abuse — once again to start a “national conversation”.

We even have to wait until September, nearly three years after she became a minister, before work begins on the papers. 

The papers will tell us nothing we don’t already know. The work has already been done. Ms Bennett’s super slow reaction delays New Zealand doing anything constructive about the problem for at least a year.

It’s a shameful, do-nothing approach – a stark contrast with her bold words and promises of three years ago.

Light relief

Posted by on April 28th, 2011

Our very own John Clarke (and Brian Dawes). A wee bit of taking the mickey. Pleased the ABC ran it.

Hat tip: @mrjohnclarke

Workers Memorial Day

Posted by on April 28th, 2011

Today (28th April) is International Workers Memorial Day, where we remember the workers killed, injured or made unwell by their work. This is the day where we mourn those who have died and pledge to fight for the living.

I was in Christchurch today at the memorial service, and there were others around the country, including on the West Coast, in another sad remembrance of the 29 miners killed at Pike River Mine last year.

In Christchurch, workers killed and injured were just going about their daily jobs and were the innocent victims of a cataclysmic event.

We can’t say that about Pike River. This was no unavoidable accident and we must know what caused it, how it could be prevented in the future and what a government’s responsibility for that should be. I will be in Blackball on Saturday for another commemoration – where I will have the chance to hear directly from those most affected.

Unfortunately, today Brash’s coup dominates the media, so you won’t read about these memorial events. You won’t hear about the workers who lost their lives last year in workplace accidents, including the Pike River MIners. You won’t hear about the 700 workers who die prematurely from work related illness or disease every year. You won’t hear about the 200,000 workers who suffer serious harm in the workplace each year.

If these were crime statistics, it would be leading the news and the Sensible Sentencing Trust would be calling for blood.

Despite decades of action by unions, workers and pro-worker governments which have resulted in significant improvements to safer working conditions, the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths in New Zealand workplaces remains too high. Many of these deaths and injuries are easily preventable, but the relentless pursuit of the bottom line costs workers in more than pay and conditions.

Tight economic conditions mean some businesses take shortcuts and workers bear the consequences. Most at risk are those who work on their own account, or as dependent contractors, where the struggle to make ends meet is tougher than it’s been in years. It’s no accident that the construction, fishing, forestry and agriculture industries have a much higher percentage of accidents in New Zealand workplaces.

New Zealand’s history of workplace health and safety also has a legacy we must face up to. The workplace injuries didn’t just happen in the last year. There are hundreds of thousands of workers who suffered injuries on the job in their former working lives. I meet them all the time – the old factory workers, the forestry workers, the labourers, who suffered harm at work as younger men or women, and now are bewildered to find that the support they were receiving from our world-class ACC system has been cut.

Try explaining to someone whose worked hard all of his life, who lost his hearing because of workplace conditions and lack of prevention, that he should no longer qualify for ACC funding to upgrade his fading hearing aid, because Nick Smith has decided his injury is due to “degenerative” conditions.

Today, on Workers Memorial Day, we remember those who have been lost or injured at work. We can only imagine what it is like to say goodbye to a loved one at the beginning of the working day and not have them return at the end. It shouldn’t happen.

It’s a day that we join with others to renew our determination to work together for safer workplaces.

That’s what I’ve been doing today.

On Murray McCully, leopards and spots

Posted by on April 28th, 2011

And now for something NOT about the Royal Wedding….has anybody noticed how remarkably consistent Murray McCully is? I mean, recall the Tourism Board fiasco when McCully was last a Minister? First, he created a little advisory unit to advise him alone on Tourism and Sport. He made it up. He appointed all the members – no precedent in the public service. Then he forced people he had appointed to the Tourism Board to resign, but made sure they took $340,000 tax free with them to make them feel better. The Auditor-General’s Office later found the payments to be unlawful and recommended the Board get the money back. Good luck with that – that was 1999. He also got a one-off $12.5 million boost for the Tourism Board for promotional work so that his mate Kevin Roberts, head of Saatchi and Saatchi at the time could live comfortably, given the Tourism Board was one of S&S’s clients. That got Jenny Shipley into a lot of hot water but she couldn’t remember what she and Kevin had talked about over dinner so that was alright.

Now he’s at it again, but this time with a Ministry (MFAT) which is a little harder to push around, but he’s still succeeding. Last year he passed over $75,000 or so to his old mate, Mark Blumsky, ex-shoe seller, Mayor of Wellington and fleeting MP. No tender process, no bidding required – just “here’s some money Mark, go and see what you can do to develop tourism in Niue. Oh, and by the way, I’ll chuck in the High Commissioner’s job as well.” He’s building on that success to reach over the top of trained and qualified diplomats to open postings to the private sector, who as we all know, are supremely qualified to run everything (eg: Merrill Lynch, Hanover, South Canterbury Finance, etc.).  So how can we continue to train diplomats who have NZ’s interests at heart when they know that McCully is simply going to reach over them with his sticky little fingers and dish out goodies to mates? Much has been made recently by Iain Rennie, State Services Commissioner, of how good it is for public sector workers to be seconded into the private sector. Well, it might be. But it would be really good for private sector whizz kids to spend some time in the public sector also – learning the difference between public interest and private interest; service and corruption. I am proud of our public service. They help us maintain our international reputation for being transparent and virtually corruption-free. I don’t know if Murray McCully understands that. Leopards and spots….that’s all I’m saying.

Oh for goodness sake

Posted by on April 27th, 2011

I think I’ve been remarkably restrained about the royal wedding. But this seriously got me going tonight. Outright censorship of anything that might be a satirical take on an event which already has a surreal feel to it. And it’s not even censorship of our own TV. We don’t have anything like The Chaser in NZ because there’s no appetite to fund such local content.

The Chaser screens on ABC TV, is irreverant, pushes lots of boundaries and no doubt irritates a lot of people, including politicians. But it’s funny, relevant and takes the piss. Which is a healthy thing in a democracy.

But it doesn’t meet the standards of coverage of the royal wedding. Apparently. Whatever they are. What rubbish.

ABC forced to pull Chaser wedding coverage

Updated 1 hour 22 minutes ago

The Chaser's royal wedding set

Cancelled: The Chaser team’s commentary was to offer viewers a satirical take on the royal wedding. (ABC: Dominic Knight)

Just two days before Prince William and Kate Middleton are due to tie the knot, ABC TV has been forced to cancel The Chaser’s one-off live coverage of the event due to what it says are restrictions imposed by the royal family.

The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary was due to air on ABC2 from 7:00pm AEST on Friday, offering viewers a satirical take on the royal wedding.

But now the live special – promised to be “uninformed and unconstitutional” – has been reluctantly pulled due to restrictions imposed over the Easter break.

ABC TV was initially advised by the BBC, and subsequently by Associated Press Television News (APTN), there were no coverage restrictions that would prevent The Chaser’s wedding commentary.

But new conditions of use issued by APTN over the Easter break state footage cannot be used “in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content”.

Read more here

Tell the Government: Don’t Cut Our Future!

Posted by on April 27th, 2011


t Cut Our Future

Why Joyce is determined to crash through

Posted by on April 27th, 2011

Adam Gifford at the Herald succinctly sums up why Steven Joyce is so intent on ignoring all opposition and calls for compromise on his broadband scheme which looks as if its becoming a white elephant.

Steven Joyce prides himself on being a pragmatic guy. That’s what he told this year’s Telcon conference, anyway – that’s he’s surrounded by people who like talking but he’d like to be remembered as a guy who does stuff.

That must be why he’s giving Telecom and Vodafone $285 million to build a rural broadband network that relies on technology nearing its use-by date, which won’t deliver the promised speeds.

If nothing else, it gives his boss John Key the chance to jump in an airforce helicopter for an election photo-op at some remote location.

Yesterday a group of 11 telcos and groups such as fed farmers proposed a compromise on Joyce’s urban broadband scheme. They argued that instead of Joyce insisting on his regulatory holiday which locks out the Commerce Commission  as independent umpire on price setting for fibre for nearly 10 years, it be replaced with an Australian style special access undertakings system.

They’d done a lot of research. Labour gave it qualified support but needs to look more closely at it. Any compromise solution is worthy of consideration. Joyce of course dismissed it straight away as he dismisses everything. He knows best. Says its all about certainty and there cant be any delays.

Wonder why? Because he has to keep his timetable on course or the contracts can’t get signed with Telecom before the election. And, this is the killer, the whole scheme falls over unless he sticks to the regulatory holiday.

Because that’s the sweetener for the winning bid. 10 years free of independent scrutiny on pricing and a whole lot of other services. Locking up our network to an anti-competitive monopoly. And we’re going to let this happen?

iPredict this week

Posted by on April 26th, 2011

Don Brash’s bid to become leader of the Act Party is expected to fail, this week’s snapshot from New Zealand’s online predictions market, iPredict, suggests. Instead, the market indicates that Dr Brash will establish a new party which will achieve MMP’s 5% threshold and appears favoured in Epsom. Act is forecast to leave Parliament, the Maori Party to be down to 3 seats and UnitedFuture to be up to 2 seats. Despite these developments, John Key’s National is forecast not to need the new Brash party, the Maori Party or UnitedFuture and will be able to govern alone. This week’s snapshot was taken at 1.41 pm today.

Goodbye Kiwi #2

Posted by on April 26th, 2011

The video clip Goodbye Kiwi  posted by Trevor below kind of says it. Circulate it

Public broadcasting in New Zealand is in tatters following a statement by the new RadioNZ chair Richard Griffin that he’s going to move our state radio broadcaster towards commercialisation. He says RadioNZ wont become a commercial product but in the next breath revealed he is open to sponsorship of some radio programmes at the state broadcaster even if a law change is needed.

He said: “This board has got the will and determination to make it happen not just to enhance the product, but to enhance the revenue for the product”

A more pragmatic approach to broadcasting is what he promises.

The revelations were made on Mediawatch at the weekend. You can listen here.

Griffin, a former press secretary to Jim Bolger denied his appointment was political, but his agenda fits the Government’s view to strip our state broadcasters of public broadcasting functions and turn them towards cost recovery and even profit. He’s been appointed the chair after less than a year on the board.

Of his critics he says “conspiracy theories make good copy”.

Commercial sponsorship of RNZ programmes would be the first step towards full commercialisation. Radio New Zealand is the last bastion of public service broadcasting, free from corporate interests and should remain that way.

The National Government has already shown that it is more interested in supporting commercial organisations than public broadcasters with its bailout of Mediaworks with a $43 million low interest deferred payment for its radio spectrum licence. It has canned funding to TVNZ7, the new digital public TV channe

There’s a crisis in public broadcasting in NZ.

Last week Labour called on the nation’s top thinkers, business leaders, politicians, academics and senior media industry figures to converge to discuss the future of public broadcasting and media in New Zealand.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of people out there who care about public broadcasting in New Zealand. Our ability to tell our stories. Our ability to provide the public with independent critical analysis, reporting and investigation. Not owned by corporate interests.

Every democracy in the world has it. Every nation should have it. We’re losing ours

Here’s what the Sunday Stat Times editorial said on 17th April.Can’t find a link online

SundayStar Times Editorial, 17 April 2011

THREE CHEERS for another political appointment from National. This time it is a spot at the head of Radio New Zealand for one of its greatest mates. Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman announced last week that Richard Griffin will chair the board.
Coleman was quick to point out the undoubted fine qualities of Griffin, and his distinguished journalistic career, but neglected to mention the area of his background which the cynics might suggest played an even more significant part in his appointment – his political service to National.
From 1993 to 1998 Griffin was chief press secretary and senior media adviser to Prime Minister Jim Bolger and his cabinet. These days the former political editor of Radio NZ – who is a life member of the parliamentary press gallery – is a director of a public affairs company.
Griffin’s rise has been rapid, given that he was appointed to the Radio NZ board in only May last year, but Coleman announced he would replace Christine Grice, and that he had “added real value” to the board. He went further still in his gushing praise, pointing out Griffin’s “ideal background” to chair the organisation.
Since it assumed office, National has appointed six new members to the seven-person board, and in perhaps the most telling of his statements, Coleman announced the board “now clearly understands the government’s requirements to provide a quality service for the funding available”.

Chippie @ the backbencher

Posted by on April 26th, 2011

ACTING BRASHLY: Will Don Brash take over the ACT party? What does this mean for the right of centre and Rodney Hide? Will this make ACT more electable? Also, Hone Harawira is announcing his new party? Who will be his fellow members? Will they win seats? Is there room for new parties in Parliament?

WE REMEMBER: We remembered the fallen and the fighters on ANZAC Day this week. Is the day just about Gallipoli or is it about the military? What does the day mean for the everyday kiwi–a day off or a day to remember those who served? And what is our current military role? Do we need a military force? Besides SAS our military acts mainly in a humanitarian capacity—should that role be filled by our military forces or another organization?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 27TH of April. 9pm the panel: ACT MP Heather Roy, Green Party Co-Leader Dr. Russel Norman, Labour MP Chris Hipkins, National MP Paul Quinn.

Goodbye Kiwi?

Posted by on April 26th, 2011

Filed under: media

Going to the extremes

Posted by on April 26th, 2011

As the scrapping for the custody of the political corpse that is the ACT party continues, John Key has set himself some new standards around the degree of extremism he is relaxed about. Don Brash is ok, Roger Douglas is not. Funny thing though, I am not sure there is a cigarette paper between them actually.

Before we get to the policies I loved the list of movers and shakers on Stuff today as being backers of Brash. They say you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep Alan Gibbs, Ruth Richardson et al. The only name not on that list who should be is Roger Douglas.

On policy, well it hardly needs to be said. Late last year Don Brash was hacking into the government on their lack of support for Roger Douglas bill to reinstate the youth minimum wage. As it happens Brash does not really believe in the minimum wage at all, so not sure much between them there. Same goes for low taxes, size of the state, public spending, privatisation, overseas investment you name it.

On race relations I think it would be fair to say Don has it all over Sir Roger in the champion of extremism competition. No party leader has been more divisive in terms of race relations in New Zealand’s recent history than Brash. But apparently on John Key’s criteria, that is all well and good. But then it would be wouldn’t it since John Key was right in there with Brash and the “Iwi/Kiwi” rhetoric as a member of Brash’s caucus.

Brash’s brand of extremism would be quite attractive to John Key’s political purposes I think, either through ACT or another vehicle, but not sure why its any different from Sir Roger’s, with the minor exception that it might just be a bit more popular.