Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Power shortages

June 10, 2008

On the front page of todays Dominion Post is the artilce “Power crisis? what power crisis?”, outlining how a drought in the South Island has caused hydro lake levels to fall to 52% of average, with a trend on a graph mirroring the 1992 drought and power shortages. the Government is launching a conservation campaign, but insists that there is no crisis and has refused to set a savings target. This is in stark contrast to 2001, when the Government launched a large campaign to save power, with the aim of a 10% cut in consumption over 10 weeks (resulting in an 8% consumption cut). This is despite the lake levels being lower than at any time since 1992, and major industry figures saying we are in a riskier situation than ever before. Why?

It’s an election year. As Paula Oliver writes, “the last thing Labour needs just months from an election, is a serious power shortage that impacts on the way voters live their lives”.

Labour is, of course, doing its absolute best to duck responsibility for the crisis, saying that it is a drought for which it can not be held responsible, and the crisis is being well managed. Which is only partly true.

Of course, Labour did not cause the drought. But it can be held respsonsible for the failure to allow increased power generation by removing RMA restrictions. The resource consent process in the RMA helped create the power crisis by stopping the building of new power stations which can not gain resource consent. A good example of this, was Project Aqua, a project Meridian energy planned which involved diverting water from the Waitaki River near Oamaru into a canal and through several dams. The project would have generated 540 megawatts of electricity, but was cancelled in 2004, as it was unable to gain resource consent, and the Government was unwilling to intervene. Although Aqua would not solve all our power worries, it would have helped, especially given our rising population and the fact we haven’t had any major new power stations built since the Clyde Dam. project Aqua isn’t the only example. Numerous wind farms have faced delays, if not refusal, as a result of MINBYists using the resource consent process to stop them. The result. Not only power shortages, but enviromental problems, as three quarters of new electricity generation under Labour has been thermal, producing a lot more carbon dioxide.

So where do the Greens stand on this. They are supportive of the existing RMA, saying it doesn’t need big changes. They also opposed Project Aqua. The reality is that Project Aqua was a lot more enviromentally friendly than burning coal. Maybe the Greens electricity policy is forcing people to save power by having power cuts? If so, they might just get to see some of that policy implemented.

As for me, I’m going to do my bit to save power by not blogging again until Thursday (or Friday).

More bad news for Labour

June 6, 2008

I don’t want to gloat too much on Labours poor polling, but things really are starting to look bleak for the Government. Another poll has come out, this time from Roy Morgan. This poll can be trusted more than others, as it does not have a pro-National bias (Colmar-brunton a prime example of this, AC Nielson can be suspected), and they together with TV3 were very accurate in getting the last election right. The latest figures give a Parliament of (asuming, as always no general electorate seats change hands and all Maori seats go to the Maori Party):
National 63 seats (enough to govern alone)
Labour 40 seats (down 10, the vote being lowered to 32% not a good sign)
Greens 9 seats (support starting to pick up)
Maori Party 7 seats (3 overhang)
ACT (2 seats, 1.5% same as last election)
United Future and Progressives (1 each, in both cases lucky to avoid overhang)

When the figures are redone to give NZ First an electorate seat (presumably Tauranga) and its 4% comes into play, the new seat totals are:
National 61, Labour 38, Greens 8, Maori party 7, NZ First 5, same for all others.

These tests are done on the asumption that no electorate seqats change hands. But there is a massive 20% swing (nationwide) from Labour to national since the last election (under this poll), so instead of Labour being 2 points ahead of National (as in 2005 election), National is 18 points clear of Labour. If the electorate vote is similar to the party vote (which it usually is) this will result in a massacre of Labour MPs. Being conservative, and asuming there is a 15% swing between the two parties electorate vote, in favour of National, will see the following seats change hands (according to David Farrars electoral pendulum):
Taupo (good to see the author of the EFA going, with his demotion from cabinet, he may not even be back on the list)
Rotorua (this seat and Taupo already have paper National majorities, so Chadwick should have a very tough job swiming against the tide)
Otaki (as Hughes and Guy will be high on their list, no real consequences)
Hamilton West (a tradtional swing seat should swing to National with the country)
West-Coast Tasman (like with Otaki, the lists make this race irrelavent)
Palmerston North (Steve Maharey’s retirement makes this seat vulnerable)
Auckland Central (byebye Judith Tizard, helo Nikki Kaye)
New Plymouth (if this seat falls with the rest, Labour will hold no provincial electorates. But this seat will be tough for National to crack)

All these seats shoul fall to National this election. The first five are pratically guarenteed a National win, as all would fall under a modest 5% swing. Palmerston North and Auckland Central are tougher targets, but Steve Maharey’s retirement gives National’s Malcolm Plimmer a real chance in this traditional Labour seat. Judith Tizard has a reputation of not doing much (I don’t know how fair this reputation is), and her seat is Labour’s most vulnerable in Auckland. National has an attractive candidate in Nikki Kaye, but again Labour benefits from the Tizard name. New Plymouth would fall on paper under a 14.8% swing, but Duynhoven is popular in his elelctorate, and has the incumbency advantage, so I have doubts about this seat falling.

There are two other electorate seats which might change hands. Wellington central was widely predicted to be a close race between Mark Blumsky (a popular former mayor) and Marion Hobbs, but instead turned out to be one of the few seats where Labour increased its lead over National from 2005. This was largely because the expectations of a tight race drew many Green voters (who had given their electorate vote to Kedgley in 2002) to give their electorate vote to Hobbs (a similar trend occured with Franks electorate vote being decimated, much of it presumably going to Blumsky). This time, with no predictions of a close race, the Green votes might go back to Kedgley, and Marion Hobbs retirement looses her personal vote and incumbency advantage. This might, again a big might, enable Stephen Franks to pull off a big upset. But I won’t bet on it.

Another interesting seat will be Maungakiekie. National won this seat in 1996, showing it can vote National. It has gone with Labour since then, but mark Goesche is retiring, loosing him his personal vote and incumbency advantage. And the new National Party candidate, Sam Lotu-Liga, a Samoan Auckland City Coucil member, will be a far better candidate than Paul Goldsmith was in 2005 (and Sam’s Samoan background should help him tap into the ethnic minority vote). National also polls better than in the rest of the country. Still, a 22.2% swing is needed, and this will be a marathon obstacle. Carol Beaumont (Labour) is a more likely winner. I will be surprised if any other seats change hands. National’s electorate vote held up in 2002, even when its party vote collapsed, as those who had left National to NZ First and United Future in 2002 stayed loyal with their electorate votes. Expect the same with Labour this election.

The other general seat which might change hands is Tauranga. Bob Clarkson won this seat in 2005, by a slender 730 vote majority over you know who. But Bob Clarkson was popular in Tauranga, as he had donated much of his money on a new stadium, and other community projects. And Don Brash’s “one law for all” slogan may have grabbed some redneck votes of Peters. This year, Bob Clarkson is retiring, loosing him his personal vote. He is going to replaced by Simon Bridges, a 30 year old high profile lawyer, who may not be too widely known in Tauranga (certainly not the same name recognition as Peters), and Peters has indicated he is eyeing the seat back since he included a no tolls on the Tauranga harbour bridge as part of his 2005 deal with Labour. Still once out, harder to get back in. And this applies even more to minor party leaders. So I won’t be the least bit surprised if, even by the narrowest of margins Bridges wins this seat (whether NZ First gets 5% is another story).

Even here the news is bad for Labour. Nothing would destroy Labour’s chances of staying in power more than Winston Peters getting Tauranga or 5%. At the moment Labour has the slim (although now vey slim) chance of retaining power in a coalition or other arangement with the Greens and Maori Party (the latter having the advantage of the overhang). Bringing NZ First into play, while it would make things a lot more difficult for National, would end this hope. I can not see Winston prefering a five party unstable hodge podge of Labour, Progressives, Greens and NZ First, over a straight National-NZ First coailiton. And even if NZ First doesn’t play ball, the Maori Party might.

Either way, things aren’t looking good for Labour.

Why I want a change of government

May 31, 2008

On May 17, in response to a rouge poll showing National party support at a fantastically unrealistic 56%, and support for Labour 29% (I wish Labour support really was that low, but sadly it probably isn’t), Steve Pierson at The Standard asked a very good question (surprised at the result because of National’s lack of policy, and his ignorance of the effects of the Electoral Finance Act): “You’ll be voting for National come election day. What will you be voting for them to change and what have you seen from them that leads you to believe they’ll make that change?”. Here is my answer:

I too, like 56% of the NZ public in this poll (I suspect the poll may over-estimate support for National, and believe the true level of National support to be around 50% and Labour at around 37%) support National and plan to give it my Party vote on election day (although I have not definitely made up my mind).

I will be voting primarily to get Labour out, and voting more out of a very strong dislike of Labour, than a love of National.

The first thing I hope to see changed is the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act. I want to be very clear on this. I strongly believe that any-one who not only deliberately steals $800 000 of taxpayers money, despite three warnings in advance from the chief electoral officer that doing so was illegal to win an election, and after that (possibly stolen) election, manipulate electoral laws for partisan political gain (and in doing so placing onerous restrictions on free speech) is unfit for public office.

Given Key’s public statements in this area, and National’s voting and speaking record, I believe this to be a realistic expectation.

I also have serious reservations about Labours social liberal agenda on moral issues (i.e. abortion, civil unions, prostitution, smacking ban). Although I acknowledge that National is unlikely to make any changes in this area, judging from its voting record on these issues, as well as its historical record of avoiding such issues since the 1970s, it would be surprising if National were to introduce more legislation that goes against my moral values, and further if such legislation was introduced it would more likely to be conservative legislation than liberal legislation on these issues. The same can not be said of Labour. Judging from all available evidence, Labour took the positions it did on these issues because of genuine conviction, and did so despite some of measures, particularly the smacking ban, being deeply unpopular with the public. I commend Labour for its principled position on these issues, even though it is not a position I agree with. I do not commend Labour for being dishonest in the way it promoted the legislation, particularly the claim the Smacking ban was not about banning smacking, when the law changes removed all legal defences for smacking, and Labour rejected an amendment proposed by Chester Borrows to allow smacking, while banning all child abuse (and I do not consider smacking child abuse). I worry that if re-elected Labour may introduce more socially liberal legislation, particularly in the area of euthanasia. I do not feel any public statements from Labour in this area can be trusted, given what Helen Clark said on Radio Rima in 2005 denying her intention to introduce a smacking ban.

Further, I agree in principle that the role of the government in the economy and personal affairs of its citizens should be kept minimal. Judging from previous National Party policies on issues such as tax cuts, bulk funding of schools, and its record of governance in the 1990s, National appears to share my beliefs. Although some policies in this area have been compromised in order to gain public support, any new policies this election, and decisions made in government will reflect its (and my) ideological views in this area. Labour, judging from its record over the last nine years, does not share my views, and instead appears to hold socialist ideological views, and its policies and actions reflect those views.

For the above reason, I will not vote for the Labour Party with my Party vote, or support any Labour Party electorate candidate this election.

It describes perfectly the reasons why I won’t vote Labour. To be fair, given my ideological views I was never going to vote Labour anyway. However its actions, particularly on the Electoral Finance Act, and it’s socially liberal crusading nature, have given me a very intense dislike of the Labour Party and Helen Clark. I try not to hate them, and know that there are many good people (even though I may disagree with their political views) within the ranks of the Labour Party. But when I read and hear about the unborn New Zealanders being killed through abortion (partly because of Labour’s failure to ban it), the decline of moral values and rise of promiscurity in our society (in part by Labour’s legalisation of prostitution and civil unions), and the way it, despite being warned three times in advance by the Chief Elelctoral officer, stole $800 000 for its pledge card, and how it is trying to gerrymander its way into a forth term with the Electoral Finance Act, it makes me angry. Very angry. And while I know National is far from perfect, I get the feeling at times that any lot would be better than the current lot. And I hope, I really hope, that we will have a change of Government this election.

Congestion charging

April 18, 2008

The Dominion Post has details of a proposal to introduce congestion charging here in Wellington, with one proposal including a fee between $1.50 and $4.50 to enter or leave a congestion charging zone between 7am and 9am, and 4pm to 6pm on weekdays, with suggestions for further tolls at other points, such as Pukerua Bay, Tawa and Ngauranga Gorge on SH1, and Petone and Lower Hutt on SH2. The scheme has distinct similarities to those already in place in London, Singapore, and introduced more recently in Stockhom. There are indications it has been successful, with a 10-15% decrease in vechiles entering the zone in London, and 13% fewer cars in the Singapore zone during operational hours. In London, the introduction of congestion charging has seen a 25% increase in bus patronage, and 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport, and an overall neutral economic impact (although the retail sector has suffered).

For these reasons I support the idea, but have some reservations. Firstly our train system is running at close to full capacity, although new trains are coming in 2010. If congestion charging is introduced, improvements to public transport (which must be very substantial) must be introduced before, not after the congestion sharging takes effect (with the tax revenue going to repay the loan). The zone should only cover predominately comercial areas of the CBD (the Motorway, Vivian Street and Cambridge Terrace could form a good boundary), and I am completely opposed to charges outside the CBD. And to repeat, the improvements in public transport must be big. A 10c per litre regional petrol tax could complement the scheme. I can not say for sure wether the idea is good until I see the full details, but considering it as an option is certainly a good idea.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

Update on pamphlet-gate

April 16, 2008

Last week I blogged on how the NZ Herald had exposed plans of Labour to use KiwiSaver and Working for Families pamphlets as part of their election campaign. Now Helen Clark has pulled the idea, no doubt not out of integrety or principles, but because word of it got out to the NZ Herald.

However, more facts on the incident have come to light, and it turns out that while it was an idea proposed by one delegate, it was publicly endorsed by Labour Party President Mike Williams as a “damned good idea”. And (In)Justice Minister Annette King and Trade Minister Phil Goff, both likely future Labour Party leaders, were present when this occured and raised no objection (although King claims to have been busy talking to Goff and thus didn’t hear the proposal, something that sounds like a nice excuse to me). So while Helen Clark wasn’t involved (She should be thanking her lucky stars She wasn’t in the room at the time) Mike Williams definately was, and Phil Goff and Annette King raised no objection to the plan. It wasn’t just one enthusiatic delegate, it was some very senior members of the Labour Party.

Even giving Annette King and Phil Goff the benefit of the doubt, ithe support from Mike Williams indicates very distirbing views towards the use of public money for partisam polirical benefit. He should be sacked.

Sadly however, there is no chance of him being sacked, as the use of public money for electioneering is almost standard Labour Party policy. And its not just the pledge card, and the now legal taxpayer funded parliamentary communications adds (which are explict electioneering). Labour has a clear record of using public funds for partisan political purposes.

Last election the Labour government carried out a massive working for families propaganda information campaign, so big that the Auditor-General raised concerns about it. Jane Clifton wrote an excellent article in the listner last year, the last three paragraphs containing very useful information on political uses of Government infromation campaigns. She writes “The most noxious stealth advertising by political parties may well be done by governments using “public information campaigns” for blatanly political purposes. … Last elections Working for Families ad campaign was a blatant “Vote Labour” push. But it was also a public information campaign; we had to pay to tell ourselves, at election time, what a provident and benign Labour government we had”.

Clifton then goes on to talk about an ACC campaign. The National/NZ First coalition Government in 1998 reformed ACC, so as to give New Zealanders the choice of paying their ACC levies to a private insurance companies to take care of them instead of the Government ACC scheme. These reforms were reversed in 2001 by the new Labour Government, which called National’s ACC reforms “privatisation”. National had the re-implementation of its 1998 ACC reforms as its 2005 policy (its 2008 policy is yet to be released). Clifton writes:
Recently, the Government signed off on a new cunning little sleeper campaign in the same vein, the current Accident Compensation Corporation “You’re Covered” promotion. The obstensible reason for these ads is that some people, in particular immigrants and ethnic minorities, still don’t realise what the state will do for them if they have an accident. Clearly this is piffle. Medical staff thrust ACC forms at you if you have the slightest mishap. … And if immigrants are missing the plot, there are way more effective ways of targetting them than spending $5 million on an advertising campaign in English. (Less than $40 000 of the You’re covered budget has been spent in the ethnic media.)”

Maybe the reason why the campaign (which featured many TV adds) is being run, and only a tiny fraction of its budget is spent in media specifically related to ethnic minorities, is that the campaign isn’t about informing immigrants at all, it is about raising the pro-file of ACC, while Helen Clark and her cronies launch a scare campaign about National privatising ACC. Need any further evidence? The campaign “will run through election season next year as well”. So the ads are going to be played again on TV come election time. I wonder why.

If Labour devoted a tenth of the energy it puts into devising cunning new ways to rort taxpayer money for its election campaigns, into helping our country solve its real problems, one wonders how much better off we will be.

Corrupt theiving scum

April 14, 2008

I don’t use words like this to describe people very often, but I will today to describe a organization that has well earned that title: the Labour (or Liarbour) Party.

The New Zealand Herald has outlined confidential strategy notes (read “secret plans”) from the Labour Party to steal more money from my taxes for its re-election campaign:

In a private session on election strategy, run by President Mike Williams, delegates were advised to distribute pamphlets on KiwiSaver produced by the Inland Revenue Department and on Working for Families produced by Work and Income.

They were also advised to tell voters when handing out the pamphlets that National voted against both measures.

… such publicity has never before been directly tied to political campaigns, and in the context of the new Electoral Finance Act, the move could be seen as inappropriate use of Government publicity

David Farrar says “let us remember here that this is not a low level campaign worker thinking “Hey why don’t we grab a hundred KiwiSaver pamphlets in case we run into people interested in them. This is the Labour Party’s most senior campaign official telling every MP, candidate and campaign activist to use taxpayer funded material as part of their election campaign”. And you can bet $824 524 that the cost to WINZ of producing the pamphlets, as part of Labours election campaign, won’t be included in Labours election spending limit.

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn blogs (and for once I agree 100% with him): “It is the same basic contempt for the law we see in the US political system, the same desire to win at any cost no matter what it does to our democracy. And by just proposing it, they’re encouraging this attitude, and further undermining the very necessary controls we have on party election spending”. Idiot/Savant also disscusses the possibility that this advertising could breech the Electoral Finance Act.

Idiot/Savant comments in a related post on Kiwiblog (see comment at 2:37pm here) how s/he has already been informed by Labour that it’s all just a misunderstanding, and was just an idea pitched by one enthusiastic delegate, without information on how the idea was recieved. To be frank, I don’t believe anything Labour says. And there is no reason why we should, given its record, including promising the auditor-general before the election to include the pledge card as a campaign expense, only to reverse this position just days latter (just days after the election).

Ever since Labour decided to steal $824 524 to illegally fund its election campaign (and doing so despite being warned three times by the Chief Electoral Officer that such material would have to be included in its campaign expenses for overspending, which it illegally refused to do), and rewrite Electoral Finance laws for partisan political purposes, and now, it has shown complete contempt for democractic principles, and a willingness to do whatever it takes, no matter how un-democratic or un-ethical, to win. Although Helen may not (yet) have gone as far as locking opponents up in concentration camps, the level of respect she shows for democracy is similar to those third world dictators who do, and one suspects at times like these that she would consider doing so if that was the only way to retain power, and she would get away with it.

If so, Helen Clark really does have the same level of belief in democracy as Robert Mugabe. And that is why she must be voted out this election. Fortunately, in publishing this story on the front page today, the NZ Herald has helped do that.

Light blogging

March 26, 2008

I Hope all readers enjoyed their Easter breaks. Unfortunately, I got a bit of uni work ahead of me, so there will be no new blog posts until after 1 April, and possibly few for a while after that.