Archive for October 2007

Reshuffle

October 30, 2007

David Farrar has a good post on the coming reshuffle. Agree with him, and he knows more than me on these issues. The interesting thing is two frontbeanch demotions likely (three if you count Sutton) making the renewal talk real, not merely spin. As Clark and her cronies still control Labour, both in cabinet, in caucaus and in the party at large, don’t expect much to change. Only a clear sweep of former (or current) trade unionists and minorities and Clark associaites will do, which won’t happen.

The Electoral Finance Bill by example

October 29, 2007

Our sedition laws are gone. Yay.

But meanwhile Labour is trying to pass the Electoral Finance Bill, which represents the biggest attck on free speech in New Zealand history. prior to the bill being passed, the blogger idiot/savant at No Right Turn constructed a sedition by example index detailing all the abuses of sedition laws in New Zealand history. I decided to see if the people prosecuted for Sedition could also have been prosecuted under the Electoral Finance Bill if it was law at the time, and it was an election year, and the person who committed the crime of sedition failed to register as a third party or make a statutory declaration to spend under $500. The results are:
II: Peter Fraser (1918), No, because he only spoke and did not publish anything.
III: Bishop James Liston (1922): No, same reason as above.
IV: Charles Davis (1865): Yes, he printed and distributed political pamphlets.
V: Rua Kenua (1916): Yes, not for the speech, but his flag (which was used as evidence) could be counted as a election advertisement.
VI: Hatty Weitzal (1921): Possibly, section 5(2)c exempts newspapers, but so long as the newspaper material is solely to entertain readers.
VII: Harry Holland (1913): No, same as II.
VIII: The Green Ray (1918): Possibly, see VI above.
IX: The NZ Celt (1868): No, the newspaper was merely reporting on other events
X: Tim Selwyn (2004): Yes, the pamphlet counts as an election advertisement.
XII: Walter Nash (1921): No, he had not distributed the pamphlets.
XIII: Robert Semple (1916): No, see II above.
XIV: Christchurch Sedcond Division League (19170: No, were comunicating to internal members.
XV: Edward Hunter (1913): No, see II above.
XVI: Te Whiti and Tohu (1881): No, see II above.
XVII: OF Nelson: No, didn’t print or distribute anthing.
XVIII: Maoriland Irish Society (1918): Yes, the advertisement is clearly an election one.
XIX: Tim Armstrong (1916): No, see II above.
XX: Thompson (1927): Possibly, see VI above.
XXI: Reverend James Chapple (1918): No, see II above.
XXII: Christopher Russell (2006): interesting, can an e-mail count as electioneering? It appears yes. This is incredibly scary, if you mention a political issue in an e-mail to a friend next year, without registering (or making a statutory declaration), you will be breaking the law.
XXIII: Sidney Fournier (1917): No, see II above.
XXIV: Father John Roche (no date, WWI): No, see II above.
XXV: Paddy Webb (1917): No, see XIV above.
Even in the silly “petrol-soaked coach” pamphlet which didn’t become too funny once the police laid sedition charges, could be prosecuted under the Electoral Finance Bill.

Mallard gives himself a punch in the face

October 25, 2007

OK, he actually got into a fight with National MP, Tau Henere. But it was Trevor Mallard (and Labour) who came of worse in the fight politically, if not physically. David Farrar and Colin Espiner  list the reasons, another bad news story for Labour, the cabinet reshuffle will be seen as punishment for Mallard (and if hes not demoted, the focus will be on Clark’s lack of standards) and not on fresh blood, and Mallard kills any chance he had of becoming Labour’s next leader (Unlike David Farrar, I wouldn’t rule out King beating Goff for the job yet).

In normal circumstances I would be more sympathetic to Mallard. The death of his father and marriage breakup would have put him under considerable stress, and he was provoked by Henare going into his personal life. But this is the same Trevor who asked brash “hows Diane?” in reference to Brash’s affair (no doubt with Clark’s blessing). He broke the rules of decency so can’t be expected to be protected by them. Mallard therefore deserves all the bad publicity he wil get. National meanwhile should keep the issue in the news. Disciplining Henare (by suspending him from his portfolios for two weeks) and demanding Clark give worse to Mallard will help. As a Labour opponent, the news today can’t get much better.

Update (26/10): NZ Herald has details of the comment made by Henare, “shut up Sharon”. Not very different to “hows Dianne?” from Mallard. Although I do not approve of Henere’s actions, Mallard got what he deserved.

Tokelau

October 25, 2007

Tokelau has voted to reject indepence again. This came just after a previous vote only last year. It appears the process is to force indepence on the Tokelauan people like it or not, in order to look good, and vote again and again until they vote the right way. Hopefully this result will settle the issue. Although I’m not too concerned about Tokelau, the one pleasing aspect of this result (and why NZ should keep its ties to Tokelau, Cook islands and Nuie) is the remote possibility that they could become strategically important to our national security in future. Other than that (and common citizenship and trade union), they already have indepence in all except name.

A new Christian Party?

October 25, 2007

A few weeks ago, Destiny Party decided to dissolve itself, and tried to form a new party with former United Future MP Gordon Copeland. I have always beleivedthat it is senseless to have several separate Christian Party’s in New Zealand, destroying each others chances of getting anywhere near the 5% threshold, and give Destiny and Copeland kudos for trying to address the problem. However, the creation of the new party was a fiasco from the start and Lewis and Copeland quickly broke up. The presence of Destiny in the background gave the party the “Destiny’s child” label in the press, and created the impression that Destiny was controlling the new party. Copeland went back to focus on Future NZ while Destiny has created its new “Family Party”with another former United Future MP Paul Adams (which is basically Destiny under another name). The original problem, three separate “christian party’s” (including Field) all fighting against each other, and destroying each others chances of getting anywhere near the 5% threshold.

So what is the solution? Firstly, there must be some a united ticket. Some accommodation of Copeland’s Future NZ, Field and Destiny (and maybe the Exclusive Brethren) will need to be reached. yes, I know Destiny NZ is seen as extreme and will scare off many votes, and the brethren are a crazy cult, but Destiny will add a good 10 000 or so dedicated volunteers with some money, and the brethren have plenty of money. The trick with including Destiny is to make sure it doesn’t dominate (or appear to dominate) the new party. Destiny renaming itself “the family party” will help (hopefully the media and people will forget its origins), and it can be added to the new party after it is already formed (this can be arranged secretly prior to launching) so it will appear Destiny is joining the new Party, not the party being a new form of Destiny. Mainstream churches (many of which are apolitical, so prominent members or moderate Christians may have to suffice) will need to be included to get the moderate christian vote included. Unity will be essential. The leader (there will only be one) will need to be chosen carefully, someone with good communication skills, comes across as non-scary, like-able, friendly, with good political management skills will be needed. The leader will also need a high profile (i.e. a mayor of a large city, existing MP defecting from a larger party, celebrity, e.t.c.) or have a high profile created fro them by the media. Discipline will be all important. It may take years of planning, but I’m convinced a new Christian Party can succeed.

Why? Firstly, Christian coalition came close with 4.3% of the vote. And this was in a very crowded electoral marketplace (with National, ACT, NZ First, United and a few smaller party’s all going after the same voters). The libertarianisation of ACT, possible retirement of Peters in 2011 (or electoral defeat in 2008) destroying NZ First, should create a less competitive electoral marketplace. United Futures success in 2002 can be added as a past success of a party campaigning on “family values”. Secondly, the constituency does exist. In a recent poll, 6% of New Zealanders said they would definitely vote for such a party, with 15% likely to. The social conservatism of many Pacific Island New Zealander’s could give the new party a real chance in Mangere (with Field?) or Manakau East, avoiding the 5% threshold with a win in such a seat.

However there are great difficulties involved. Firstly, achieving the unity needed is the first problem. Christians (even conservative Christians) are not a united identical bunch. Some hold very left wing views, others (like me) to the right. A (perhaps more bigger) divide is how to reconcile the moderates and extremists. Some Christians hold very extreme positions on issues like abortion and “gay rights” and would make those issues the focus of the campaign, while others would prefer a more compassionate stance on those issues, and would be scared of by extremists. For this reason, it is unlikely a united Christian Party will ever get of the ground. However, the obstacles don’t end there. It must get 100 000 people out to vote for it. A well funded, slick campaign focusing on “family friendly” welfare/tax policies while taking a moderate-looking stance on moral issues (e.g. focusing on banning abortions for girls under 16 behind their parents backs, instead of banning abortions for rape victims, although opposition to all abortion in principle will need to be included to please the conservative wing) in the right circumstances could succeed. Weaning Pacific Island voters off Labour will be another challenge, but moral issues can be used as a wedge to separate them from Labour if played carefully (if Labour’s in opposition, and unable to bribe them or scare them about what National will do, this task will be easier). Getting prominent community leaders in South Auckland included will help. And if elected, a Christian Party could make a difference.

In short, a christian party can succeed, but only in leaders of existing Christian Party’s unite and get their act together.

Howard sets date for his own death

October 16, 2007

OK, not his real death, but his political death. John Howard has set the date for the poll: November 24. He faced a harsh dilemma of choosing a latter date (like December 1 or 8) giving more time for a big event that could change his fortunes (i.e. a miracle) to come, but risk the perception of desperately holding onto to power as long as possible. Whatever his choice, he will soon be history.

Howard is a long way behind in the polls. The latest newspoll gives Labor a 12% lead over the coaltion, with a massive 185 according to one poll in New South Wales and Victoria to Labor. The leads have stayed reaonably consistent all year. Although Howard did make impressive comebacks in 2001 and 2004, good luck (tamap, 9/11 and Latham’s implosion) played a role and he wasn’t this far behind when calling the poll. Even though Howard will loose if he’s lucky, slaughtered if not, he has one major achievement. Rudd promises few changes to his Australia, and Labor has become more centrist. Expect more posts in this new category in future.

Irony

October 16, 2007

One of the very few good things Labour is doing at the moment is helping repeal archaic sedition laws, which have began their second reading at Parliament. Sadly, Labour’s positive contribution towards free speech is undone by its Electoral Finance  Anti-Free Speech Bill, which seeks to crinimalise free speech without registration, and all free speech involving spending more than $60 000 in an election year. Rodney Hide gave a good speech on this irony. Also interesting is which Bill passes first? The sedition Bill or Electoral Finance Anti-Free Speech Bill. I suspect the Anti-Free Speech Bill will pass first, because of Labour’s desire to silence its critics as fast as possible, and thus will be desperate to have the new law on its books before the christmass break (so it can take effect 1 January), despite Sedition being introduced in June. Labour has even gone to have the committee meet outside normal hours to speed it up. Fortunately for free speech I hope the christmass deadline will beat the Anti-Free Speech Bill, so we can enjoy another two or three months of free speech. Sadly, Labour can rush the bill through under urgency, and I’t won’t surprise me if this happens at the end of the year.