Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘simon power’

Power on powerful Loan Sharks

Posted by on August 11th, 2011

Well done to Simon Power for summing up the horrible reality of loan sharks in his speech to the Financial Summit in Auckland today.

A woman from a small South Island town borrowed $250 from a payday lender over the internet.

The loan was for two weeks and with interest and fees she was due to pay back $375 from her loan of $250.

But she was not able to pay the full amount back within the two weeks.

The contract contained a roll-over clause, which meant if she didn’t pay it off within the two weeks then the amount would roll over and interest and penalty interest would be added on top of the interest already accrued.

The woman paid as much of the debt as she could for several weeks but was not able to pay it all off.

By the time she sought help from a budget adviser – three months later – her original loan of $250 had rolled over to more than $1500.

Why not now walk the talk by supporting Carol Beaumont’s members bill designed to tackle, specific to the case cited, loan sharks?

Explaining Netflix to Simon Power

Posted by on August 10th, 2011

Commerce Minister Simon Power drove through the Copyright Bill a few months ago. It gets enacted on 1 September, but as of tomorrow illegal filesharing will count towards penalties. Labour supported it in order to keep the termination clause inactive.

We will be releasing new copyright policy soon.

Today in the House Simon was asked by Gareth Hughes from the Greens and myself what he was doing to promote alternate business models which meant people could download material legally without being pinged by the new copyright law.

Nothing was the answer. Then he was asked about Netflix. What? said Simon. Never heard of it.

Well, he should have, He’s the Minister for goodness sake. He’s clearly not interested in the issues and unconcerned at the consternation by thousands of people out there who are worried they, their children or their organisations (schools, libraries, universities) will become criminals for seeking out online material that just isn’t available legally.

So here’s some info for Simon on Netflix. It’s a video and game streaming service delivered online. It’s got more than 23 million subscribers in the US and Canada.

 It’s not available here. But it’s overtaken Bit Torrent in the US for downloads. Bit Torrent is one of the major sites where you go to get content and download it for free (and illegally).

At Netflix you pay. Not much, but you pay (A streaming-only, all-you-can-watch monthly Netflix subscription costs just US$9). And it’s doing really well. It’s a new business model and its taking off. Just the sort of thing we need in NZ.

Why can’t we? Well one reason would be the ignorance and disinterest of this government in how technology is changing the way people do things.

If we were in government we’d be pushing hard to make NZ an attractive place for a business like Netflix. Giving people a real alternative to downloading films and other content illegally for free. Now’s the time to be doing it. But Simon Power didn’t even know it existed.

So much for a forward thinking switched-on government.

Gareth asked a bunch of questions about what the government had done to prepare people for the new copyright law. Nothign much was the gist of the answers. Simon Power #fail

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has launched a new website to help people and organisations get ready for the new copyright law

A tale of two Ministers

Posted by on March 24th, 2011

Simon Power and Steven Joyce.

Both have been named as possible future leaders. They have portfolios which cross over. They have very different styles of operating.

In the last two and a bit years, I’ve had experience of dealing with both.

And I’m sorry that Simon Power is leaving Parliament, because he’s a much better political operator. If you want legislation that’s robust and effective.

Just speculating, but I wonder whether he’s leaving at least partly because, as a bloke with some principles and integrity, even if I don’t agree with much of his political platform, he can’t stomach the National Party’s political agenda as we go into the election.

As a relatively new MP I try to watch and learn a bit about how to do the craft of politics effectively.

Winning your seat and winning elections are pretty damn important. But so is good policy and good laws.

I’ve dealt with Simon Power directly on two pieces of legislation; the Copyright Amendment Bill and the rewrite of Patent Law.  I’ve found him to be a man of intelligence and principle, who’s able to compromise and who listens to industry concerns and reads the political, economic environment while attempting to understand how technology changes have fundamentally influenced human behaviour and our economic environment.

How important innovation and genuine competition is for New Zealand’s future; and how important it is not to stifle it.

And then there’s Steven Joyce. I wont say too much, other than to say; he may be clever, but arrogance and tunnel vision aren’t a good combination.

I wonder whether Simon Power, as a shareholding Minister in Crown Fibre Holdings, was consulted about the impact of the Telco Bill on the regulatory powers of the Commerce Commission.

I wonder whether Simon agrees that the Minister of Communications and IT be given such unfettered powers over the new fibre network.

And I wonder whether Simon has concerns at the strength of the industry response against the impact of this new legislation and Joyce’s broadband policy which will mean higher prices and less choice for consumers on broadband for a decade.

Joyce doesn’t care. He’s impervious. His style is pure paternalism. ” It’s true because I say it is and don’t argue with me because I know best.”

Welcome to the Daddy State.

Simon Power to retire

Posted by on March 2nd, 2011

I’ve watched a number of National politicians come and go over the years. Some are not great and some are very good.

Simon Power is in the latter group. He is reasonable, willing to listen and never breaks his word. He gets things done.

Not that I always agree with what he does.

At one stage he was picked to lead the National Party. More recently that seemed a bit less likely mainly because he seemed to lack the mongrel necessary to get the job. He would however have done it well.

Parliament will be a poorer place without him.

Filed under: national

Government abandons Tolley – protections to stay

Posted by on December 11th, 2010

Thanks are due to Simon Power and Gerry Brownlee for helping Anne Tolley see sense and having the government support a Labour Amendment to ensure that police checks are retained for employees in short term early childhood facilities including at gyms and shopping malls.

Not sure if the change was based on principle or the possibility of sitting through to Monday as the Labour Party settled in for a filibuster – in the end it doesn’t matter because the level of protection for little kids won’t be reduced.

Thanks to my team for all their support.

Can the internet be regulated?

Posted by on October 14th, 2010

Simon Power today announced a Law Commission review of the regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system.

It’s timely to have a public discussion.

The Law Commission will treat the issue seriously, There are good people leading it. They have more than a year to report. But there are some big issues to discuss and I worry that they may not be able to if the terms of reference are too narrow.

If this inquiry is all about shutting down the likes of Cameron Slater (aka Whaleoil) who delights in flouting the name suppression laws then it’ll be a great shame and will create more problems than it tries to solve.

Slater regularly posts the names of people accused of various crimes which he deems to be not worthy of name suppression. He’s on a crusade. He describes himself as a citizen journalist. Others have more colourful names for him.

I don’t like his style. I try not to read his blog. Though sometimes I do. But I’d hate to see an inquiry happening just because of him.

I do believe there’s an important discussion to be had about one set of standards that applies across different media. But it’s not just about new media vs conventional media.

As David Farrar at Kiwiblog pointed out this afternoon one set of rules for conventional media (print and broadcast media) does not exist now. So the issues are complex.

People’s attitudes and behaviours are changing rapidly with the rise of new media. The discussions and debate around copyright and filesharing have shown this.

We need good law. And we need it to reflect where people are at.

Here’s what Simon Power said in question time in Parliament today. I’m looking forward to contributing to the review.

3. PAUL QUINN (National) to the Minister of Justice: Has he recently referred any projects to the Law Commission; if so, what?

Hon SIMON POWER (Minister of Justice) : Yes; earlier today I asked the Law Commission to undertake a review regarding interaction between the Internet and the justice system. It is my view that the law must keep pace with technology, and that we must have one set of rules and ethical standards for all news media. It is my view that that may not be the case at present.

Paul Quinn: Why has the Minister referred this review to the Law Commission?

Hon SIMON POWER: I am concerned that the lack of regulation or professional or ethical standards for bloggers and online publishers has created a bit of a Wild West in cyberspace. The specific issues I am concerned about include how trials can be potentially prejudiced by information posted on websites and seen by jurors, real-time online streaming of court cases, breaches of court suppression orders, and republication of a libel.

Mr Botherway Must Step Aside

Posted by on September 21st, 2010

The Chair of the Financial Markets Authority Eastablishment Board, Simon Botherway, now has no choice but to step aside pending the outcome of the Ombudsman’s inquiry into the mangament of his potential conflicts of interest in placing Allan and Jean Hubbard into statutory managment.

The public cannot understand how the Securities Commission took this step reportedly on the basis of a single anonymous complaint, timed shortly after Mr Hubbard transferred the bulk of his remaing assets into SCF to protect investors.  

Further, the Ombudsman must widen the terms of its inquiry to include questions around any potential or perceived conflicts of interest around Mr Botherway’s long standing business relationships with Mr George Kerr, Director of Torchlight Fund, one of the primary beneficiaries of the taxpayer funded bailout of South Canterbury Finance depositors.

These associations are reportedly of long standing and reportedly included at Spicers Portfolio Management and at Brook Asset Management, as well as in relation to several other funds.  Mr Kerr is also a Director of Pyne Gould Corporation, which has announced that it is seeking to set up a “heartland bank” centered on rural South Island lending. 

It must be totally transparent that neither Mr Botherway nor any of his interests have any ongoing relationship whatsoever with this proposed new bank.      

In short it is imperative that if wide ranging financial markets regulatory powers are to be concentrated in the hands of a single regulator, the holder of that office must be beyond reproach, with an impeccable record, and no possible or perceived conflicts of interest with former, current or potential business associates.

Mr Simon Botherway, who was John Key’s former Deputy at Bankers Trust, must now step aside from from the FMA Establishment Board Chair pending the outcome of a broadened Ombudsman’s inquiry.

Furrther, the Key Government cannot now clear the air on SCF withut a full and independant judical inquiry into the circumstances leading to its recievership and New Zealand’s largest investor bailout.

Why software shouldn’t be patentable

Posted by on August 8th, 2010

Here’s another one of my posts that may make some of you yawn.

Will keep it short. I’ve just read a really good piece on why software should not be patentable. Thankfully, NZ law is going in that direction (read earlier piece about Simon Power sticking to his word supporting the Commerce Select Committee recommendation to exclude software from being patentable) though there may still be some intense discussion to come around the regulations that accompany the legislation.

Why do I care about this? It’s about innovation. And nurturing and supporting the NZ ICT industry which I believe has the capacity to help drive our country’s economic future.

The piece, called Why we need to abolish software patents, is written by Vivek Wadhwa an entrepreneur turned academic from UC-Berkeley, Harvard Law School and Duke University. He argues that fledgling startups have  to worry more about some big player or patent troll pulling out a big gun and bankrupting them with a frivolous lawsuit than they do about someone stealing their ideas.

Brad Feld, managing director at Foundry Group, says that we should simply abolish software patents.  He believes that the system has spun completely out of control, with the vast majority of filings not passing the fundamental tests of a patent (that it be non-obvious, novel, and unique innovation).  Copyright and trade secrets have historically been the primary protection mechanisms for software intellectual property, and they are still the best solutions.  Feld notes that technology companies are now forced to divert huge resources to defend themselves from patent trolls rather than advance their innovations.

The founders of the United States considered intellectual property worthy of a special place in the Constitution—“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” They had the concept right, but they surely never conceived of patenting clicks in an online shopping cart and methods for having an online discussion, or Microsoft patenting methods for activating double click applications with a single click. It’s time to do as Brad Feld suggests: simply abolish these abominations.

Hat tip: nstranger retweeted by nzcspaul (Twitter)

Integrity of politics

Posted by on July 16th, 2010

I suspect it’s rare in politics. It shouldn’t be. But I want to thank Simon Power for upholding the integrity of the political process and keeping to his word.

No doubt we’ll disagree fiercely on other issues in the future.

The nuts and bolts was about Power sticking to his statements around supporting the Commerce Select Committee recommendation to exclude software from being patentable.

The context was a review of the Patents Act 1953.

The bigger picture issue is about the future of New Zealand’s local software industry and encouraging innovation.

Here’s what Simon Power said yesterday

Here’s what Labour said

Here’s what the local industry representatives said

And a bit more here

It’s important. For lots of reasons that are too technical to write here. But also because we need strong, sustainable industries in New Zealand. We need to nurture those industries. Software is an important NZ industry.

Even if you don’t fully understand the issue, I hope you understand that political parties can work together and respect each other’s views. In our national interest.

Pity it couldn’t happen more.

PS: Maybe Steven Joyce might read this and have a bit of a think

Different approaches to and from financial failings

Posted by on June 26th, 2010

I don’t want to get into too much detail while there are ongoing investigations, and hopefully even new investigations to be opened.

But todays Herald shows us three different ways of dealing with creditors.

While the massive (at least for Oamaru Timaru) rally in support if the Hubbard family is described as misguided by the Herald editorial and Brian Gaynor properly warns us that regulations not personalities count theirs  is a quiet dignity that contrasts with the wide boys currently or formerly based in Auckland.

Rod Petricevich living in a $4.4m home while out on bail on Bridgecorp related charges is being pursued around Auckland by debt collectors chasing the $2.2m transfered to a family trust in order to keep it away from investors. They got the Porsche earlier.

And poor old Mark Hotchin is pulling the $30m currently tied up in his new Auckland home out and staying offshore as is his mentor Eric Watson. Poor guys don’t want to look into the eyes of people who lost nearly half a billion dollars as they ripped tens of millions out of Hanover Finance and partied around the world. And it is still continuing.


Open policy vs backroom deals

Posted by on June 24th, 2010

I am one of those people that tends to take people and their statements at face value. Mostly.

So I’m interested to know whether this government stands by its claims to be transparent. Or whether it becomes captive to industry lobbying and backroom deals. If you believe what’s being reported today, you’d think there was a major backflip on the cards.

I’m prepared to give the government and the Commerce Minister the benefit of the doubt.

When Simon Power appeared before the Commerce Select Committee a couple of weeks ago I asked him whether he stood by his previous statement that software would be excluded from the government ‘s  new Patent Bill.

He firmly stated “yes”. But added that there would be an SOP (Supplementary Order Paper) to “clarify the government’s intent”.

This is quite a big deal. I’m sure most of your eyes would glaze over if I explained the ins and outs. Here’s some background for the dedicated.

The point is that Simon Power, Minister of Commerce, has twice publicly said the government backs exclusion of software from the Patent Bill. The select committee recommended software exclusion because it said it will allow more innovation to our local software industry.

Why? Because computer software is like books, movies or music, based on a concept and should not be patentable. It would be like preventing anyone from using certain musical notes, or words, because they have a patent. Instead software should receive, as it already does,  protection under copyright. That was the select committee’s recommendation.

Today  it’s being reported that backroom lobbying by the organisation that includes major software patenters has resulted in the Ministry of Economic Development backing away from the Commerce Committee’s recommendation and instead redrafting the Bill along the lines of the European Convention.

The European Patent Convention on the face of it excludes software patents, but the European Patent Office has been granting them.

The purported flip flop has been revealed on an American blog post (fixed the link)  which reproduces an email from industry lobbyist NZICT Group CEO Brett O’Riley.

Neither NZICT nor Microsoft, one of it’s major members, put in a submission on this Bill at the select committee stage. The allegation is that  they were unhappy with the committee recommendation and have “gone around” it to try to undo it.

Do I sense another Section 92A situation brewing?

And more importantly, just how does policy and legislation get made? Do we do it after an open and transparent process via the select committee? Or are powerful interests able to sway the government’s mind afterwards?

Every organisation has the right to push its view. But this goes to heart of how laws get made. In the open or behind a closed door?

I reckon Simon Power’s word is pretty good.

Our Govt has its head in the sand on copyright issues

Posted by on June 5th, 2010

Sometimes it takes me a while to feel as if I understand an issue. Especially one that involves the digital world.

When I’m trying to get my head around something I try to take it back to a principle. Is it fair? Who to? Is it too complex? Will it work? Is it fostering innovation and creativity? Is it where we want to be heading?

Copyright is one of those issues.

Copyright in 2010, has become a brand, or a code. The prevalence of illegal downloading both in NZ and globally is a very real and important issue. The balancing act between protecting the rights of creators of content and allowing and encouraging access to information and material is a delicate and increasingly tricky issue which is currently exercising the minds of parliaments across the world.

Intellectual property, who owns it, who should have access, how they should have that access and what should be the penalties for infringing the rules around that access are all very live issues being hotly debated.

There’s a bunch of international treaties and agreements currently being negotiated where intellectual property features large. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and more recently the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are just two. There is intensive lobbying going on, driven largely from the US.

It seems that the big elephant in the room is who’s interests are being served.

I’ve just come across this piece on The Hill which could cast some light on what is really  going on behind the scenes.

Three key US tech industry groups have urged a rethink on the US position on ACTA. The Consumer Electronics Association, TechAmerica and the Computer & Communications Industry Association plan to oppose the current draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Though the groups favor copyright enforcement, they worry the agreement will not include copyright exemptions that currently benefit some technology companies under American law.

The agreement may lack a “fair use” standard that allows using copyrighted content in limited circumstances. Google, for instance, relies on this exemption to store Web content in its search engine memory.

Wikipedia defines “Fair use” as a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.

The lack of “fair use” could make American tech companies vulnerable to repercussions abroad, these groups say.

“We would expect the administration to be as concerned as we are about the existing trend of foreign countries imposing unjustified civil and criminal liability on U.S. technology companies and their executives,” the groups wrote.

ACTA has drawn widespread criticism as serving corporate interests. So just who are these corporate interests? Who do they serve and why do they have so much influence? And what principles do those interests serve?

And does our government really understand these issues?

In the Commerce Select Committee on Thursday I asked Commerce Minister Simon Power whether the government was considering a wider review of copyright issues in the light of all the controversy around Section 92A. “No” was the response. They just want their re-write of S92A passed.

I think that’s short-sighted. And not serving the interests of NZ creators and our emerging digital industry. As well as the public interest.

Hat tip @Tom_Watson

Credit where credit’s due #2 on patents

Posted by on April 19th, 2010

Giving the government more credit. Twice in once day. Phew.

Now don’t let your eyes glaze over just because I’m talking about patents! I’m giving the government credit so listen up.

The Patents Bill, which is about to come back before the House for its second reading was originally crafted in 1953 it was long overdue for a redraft.

One of the most interesting changes to the Bill is  a proposal to exclude computer software from being patentable, on the basis of it being, like books or movies or music, based on a concept and receiving protection under copyright.

The Commerce Select Committee recommendation came after receiving many submissions on the issue. The Committee heard many arguments about the rights and wrongs of patenting software. One of the major arguments was that patenting computer software will stifle innovation in New Zealand.

At present software can be patented so long as it produces a “commercially useful step”.

But the committee, chaired by Hon Lianne Dalziel,  said that it accepted that software invariably built on existing software and that software patents were often granted for “trivial or existing techniques.”

Imagine if a piece of music was patented and you could therefore not use the notes in that piece of music.

Despite subsequent criticism of the committee’s recommendation by organisations representing large software patenters, Commerce Minister Simon Power has said the government will back the committee’s changes on this issue.

Power says the issue is not simple or straightforward. “However, the Government believes the committee has dealt with the issue in a sensible manner and has found a reasonable solution.”

The Government would support a select committee recommendation that the Intellectual Property Office develop guidelines for inventions that involve “embedded software” — software that is built into a physical device. Software will still be protected by copyright, which prevents outright copying.

That’s sensible and even a bit visionary and I think it’s the right decision.

Hope you managed to read this far.

Govt lip service to transparency on ACTA?

Posted by on March 25th, 2010

A couple of days ago, PC World ran a piece where Commerce Minister Simon Power was quoted saying NZ officials were ‘pressing for greater transparency’ in future Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negoitations.

He disputed media claims that the negotiations were being held in secret, saying agendas, reports and summaries for each of the seven previous ACTA rounds had been published on the Ministry of Economic Development website.

“As with any negotiation, however, it is important that when working towards an agreement on complex issues, participants are able to exchange views in confidence. For this reason, the participants in ACTA have agreed that the actual text under debate should be kept in confidence between the participants.”

ACTA did not focus on the private, non-commercial activities of individuals and would not impact on the internet experience of the average New Zealander, Power said.

“ACTA will not involve cutting internet access, and internet service providers will not be made to filter or monitor their networks.”

I’ve searched the National Party website for a media statement saying how and when he will do that, but can’t find anything. Am a bit unsure what he means. I guess it’s easy to say “I’ll press for more transparency” and then come back and say”Well I tried my best but it didn’t work”.

And today, writing in Computerworld, Juha Saarinen asks whether ACTA is harmless or a horror? He writes:

Is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) a harmless attempt to quietly harmonise intellectual property laws and enforcement around the world, or a threat to civil liberties that will require fundamental legislative changes to implement?

The views of officials and lobby groups differ widely on what ACTA entails.

ACTA negotiations will be held in Wellington 12-16 April at the Intercontinental Hotel, according to a leaked agenda document. There is widespread concern in New Zealand and abroad about what is contained in those discussions and who is pushing what negotiating positions. New Zealand is not a big player, but we have considerable amount at stake.

InternetNZ’s Johnathon Penney says the spirit of the treaty will have to be adhered to under international law, and New Zealand can’t enact legislation that contradicts ACTA. As it stands, ACTA is essentially an extension of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA, according to Penney and introducing it will alter New Zealand law, especially the Copyright Act.

Simon Power needs to show New Zealanders how he will attempt to achieve more transparency in these talks. Not just pay lip service.

The people smile and wave is relying on

Posted by on February 22nd, 2010

The government has two very big issues running at the moment. GST (in the context of the budget) and National’s standards in primary education.

But the Ministers leading these areas are the two most damaged Ministers in the government.

Since his housing rorts have been exposed English has had very little credibility when is comes to fiscal prudence. His problem has been both actual and more importantly perception. Even natural allies are asking whether the change will come in the short term (Power) or later (Joyce).

And while those who work closely with her are mainly being polite the degree of exasperation with Anne Tolley is growing by the week. In this case it is pretty simply a Minister who can’t cope with the job. While that was most obvious in the tertiary area where she was removed following approaches to Key from within the sector it is increasingly clear that she can’t get her head around her own flagship standards policy. Tolley might have made a good junior Minister but she just doesn’t have the grunt to cope with the front bench and the education portfolio.

So should Labour be calling for their resignation. Probably not. Ministers who are seen to be performing poorly are like rust – it sometimes takes a long time to surface but eventually will wreck the whole machine.

I say leave them in place – for now.

National: No New Ideas

Posted by on February 15th, 2010

Simon Power is the MP for Rangitikei, the electorate that completely surrounds mine in Palmerston North. I see quite a bit of him and get on with him quite well. Generally speaking I think he’s one of the more sensible Nats and definitely one of the most competent.

But Simon’s response to the Misuse of Drugs Act review is wrong. To dismiss such a comprehensive piece of work out of hand not only shows disdain for the Law Commission but for the people of New Zealand.

It’s an issues paper, which means it is open for discussion and consultation. But Simon has shut down the discussion and basically told us there is no point in engaging in the consultation. All because John Key decided he would make a ‘war on P’ central to his popularity strategy.

Of course the National Party is a conservative party so it’s not great surprise. But should being conservative be an excuse to ignore any new ideas?

It seems new, good ideas don’t get much air time at cabinet. Look at what the first year of National-led government has brought us: Laissez-faire economics, tax-cuts for the rich, cuts to the public sector, National Standards in primary schools. All old ideas. All bad ideas.

I hope the bigger thinkers in cabinet can start having a bit more say. C’mon Simon, you’re better than this.

McCully not Frank enough

Posted by on January 22nd, 2010

Foreign Affairs needs a Minister on top of their game and focussed.

The latest shambles with Fiji just shows McCully isn’t.

McKinnon, Goff or Peters all knew how to play chess and would have worked through Bainimarama’s options before announcing a diplomatic re-engagement.

They would have made it clear that the nominee had to be beyond reproach and certainly not from the banned list.

It is pretty embarrassing for all Kiwis to see our Minister of Foreign Affairs getting publicly dicked around by a two bit dictator.

Time for a reshuffle John. Simon and Steven are going to be busy aren’t they.

Supreme Court Closed?

Posted by on December 21st, 2009

Had the last weekly lunch for the year at the Backbencher today.

My guests had a table beside Minister and CEO of Justice. I thought it was polite to shift to give them space.

Wonder if they were talking about getting the pay dispute settled so William’s opening of Supreme Court goes smoothly?

Human Rights Review Tribunal Appointments

Posted by on December 21st, 2009

At 4.40pm on Friday the government announced their new appointments to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.  The Standard and even David Farrar has expressed some concerns about them. While some appointments to boards etc by governments of all hues will favour those who are supportive of them, there is normally some attempt to find people who have appropriate skills and knowledge in the area. I am really struggling to find that with the appointments, particularly of Brian Neeson (ex National MP), Ravi Musuku (ex National Candidate) and Ken Shirley (ex ACT MP).

In fact it is far worse than that.  I/S at No Right Turn has gone through Hansard and found some of Mr Neeson’s contributions on Human Rights matters, and one wonders if the agenda here is in fact to destroy the Human Rights Review Tribunal from within. He does not actually support some of the fundamental legislation on which the Tribunal is based. He is simply not appropriate to have on the Tribunal, and anyone headed towards the Tribunal needs to be aware of what will face them.

The timing of the announcement is a shocker also.  Simon Power is better than this, and the timing (last Friday before Christmas) looks like he knows this is not something to be proud of.

Chopper for the chop? Tolley to go?

Posted by on November 3rd, 2009

John Key is heading into his promised end of year reshuffle. There is one Minister in an important portfolio that has had a shocking year – Anne Tolley. Don’t think she has done anything positive and her gaffes are legendary. The chopper ride was just stupid. Night class cuts have annoyed Nats as well as others. Not reading the budget papers she signed cutting teacher numbers. Cutting and narrowing teacher professional development in conjunction with the introduction of the new curriculum.

Her end of year reports put her in the very worst group in Cabinet – and way below what any front bench Minister should be getting. The Dompost has her as one of the weakest links, Matthew Hooten on RNZ had her as an underperformer and she only scored 3.5/10 in the Herald on Sunday. Those sort of ratings would cause worry if she ran Customs or Statistics – but Education in a major portfolio and she just lacks the credibility to do the job.

But just about the worst thing a Minister can do is to put a lie in the mouth of the Prime Minister. At the standards launch John Key said:

“We have a strong mandate from parents and we are delivering for them”

Well actually they didn’t. This is what the NZCER report commissioned by the Ministry of Education actually said.

“In response to a broad open-ended question asking for any further comments, around 14 percent made a positive comment on National Standards, either the general idea of comparing their child’s performance with national benchmarks, or the specific examples given. Around 38 percent voiced some concerns about the introduction of the National Standards. These included valuing their school’s current way of reporting and discussing student progress with them and not wanting to lose it, concerns that the National Standards ignored differences in individual patterns of growth, would narrow teaching, ignore the development of the whole child, demotivate low-achieving students who never made the standard or lead to unfair comparisons of schools. “

Well John hardly a “strong mandate.” I can’t imagine what Helen would have said if one of her Ministers dropped her in it like that.

But more importantly it shows that either Anne Tolley didn’t read the report or she did and didn’t understand. Because otherwise she had an obligation to brief the PM which would almost certainly have resulted in him not launching the standards.

Of course if she tried to read it on the Ministry site then she might have had trouble. People tried. But couldn’t for sometime. This email sums it up.

Trevor – I meant to send this report to you in case you have as much trouble finding it as I had – I believe the Min of Ed had removed it from their website. Wouldn’t be surprised, given that it does not support what the Minister has been saying. When I looked, I got a page saying that site was unavailable. Then I emailed their web administrator who replied he couldn’t find it either but soon after that it seemed to be back and several people have told me they can now access it. Seems suspicious!

I do understand why they wouldn’t want it to be available.

But it is not good enough and it is time for Tolley to go. Looking at the Nats I think they need a strong Minister to do the job. Power or Joyce appeal as people who could do it.