Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Comment Moderation

Currently I have comments moderation set to "off". Frankly, unlike my nemesis, I can't be stuffed monitoring comments, and don't care what they say anyway.

I do make this point, tho: if you are going to make frequent comments, choose a name for yourself. You don't have to log into blogger, or have a blogger account, but it's bloody confusing for several people posting under the name "Anonymous". I don't mind occasional anonymous comments, but if you're going to frequently post here, distinguish yourself from the other anonymous posters.

State of the Nation(al)

I admit to a sense of unease on Saturday afternoon, when, nursing the effects of a fairly erratic spell of short-pitched bowling from the opposition, I heard that Gerry Brownlee was going to fight to keep the deputy leadership of the National Party.

John Key put his name into the leadership ring soon after Don Brash’s resignation. English, who has harboured leadership ambitions since entering Parliament in 1990, had good reason to think that he could give it another pitch. With Simon Power, Judith Collins, and Katherine Rich hovering in the background as possible deputies, it had the makings of a long and protracted shit-fight. I was, frankly, appalled to hear Judith Collins publicly commenting on the leadership and deputy leadership contest during the afternoon.

One of the dubious luxuries of the National Party—one of the legacies of Michelle Boag—is that National has a wide group of potential leaders. By contrast, Helen Clark’s leadership has been secure for the last seven years by virtue of the fact there is nobody capable of leading Labour if Clark falls under a bus. Nineteen of Labour’s first twenty list candidates at the last election have trade union backgrounds. Nine of its first eleven list candidates—effectively the face of the party—are former university lecturers or school teachers. One of the remaining ministers, Parekura Horomia, is a former public servant. The only one of Labour’s First XI at the last election with any private sector experience, Dover Samuels, is little more than a token brown face.

Further, Helen Clark cements her claim by hiring, at the taxpayers’ expense, large numbers of comparatively very highly-paid advisers. Heather Simpson easily earns over $300,000 as H1’s chief of staff. One of the advisers in the PM’s office was recently bragging that when he transferred from one government department to the PM’s office, he doubled his salary to $190,000. As the pledge card saga demonstrated, Labour’s campaign strategy was effectively governed by H2.

Helen Clark has had one potential rival in the last seven years in Phil Goff. She has managed to neuter his power by systematically expunging from the party anybody who is not from a union, public service, teaching, or rainbow background. She also holds Goff at bay by making sure he is overseas for two thirds of his time, first as Foreign Minister, and later as Trade Minister.

So here I was on Saturday afternoon, annoyed that Gerry Brownlee, Judith Collins, and Bill English would engage in a public scrap over the deputy leadership. I could foresee that playing out for a couple of weeks, and then finally resolve itself and die down before Brian Connell re-emerged on the scene to plant a particularly large steaming turd on the dining table and reignite a public storm that had nothing to do with getting rid of the filthy socialists.

I was almost prompted to call various current and former party officials and ask them why the fuck we can’t just be like the Labour Party, and have nobody of any talent, other than the Leader, in the team. Or at least shout at the talent reminding them that public squabbles over the deputy leadership do no bloody good.

The deputy leadership is not the precursor to the party leadership. It is not the celebrated second prize in the beauty contest. The great deputy leaders of National’s past may have had ambitions for the top job—but they have all reached the inevitable conclusion that they will never be Prime Minister. Don McKinnon and Wyatt Creech stand out as supportive, loyal lieutenants to Bolger and Shipley respectively who managed to put aside their desires to reside at Premier House. They focused on caucus management and policy development. The deputy needs to engender absolute trust and confidence of the caucus. Geoffrey Palmer was the master of providing legislative detail to the Lange-Douglas leadership of the fourth Labour Government: he didn’t particularly want to be Prime Minister, and failed dismally when he had reached the post. To his credit, Michael Cullen has been an outstanding deputy to Helen Clark. In doing so, however, he has spayed any chance of taking the top job himself.

So turning specifically to the Nats, I’ll take a look at some of the leadership and deputy leadership aspirants, and what they might bring to an ideal National front bench in the future:

John Key. The Golden Boy. The only possible successor. Outstanding speaker, tightly honed political instinct, National could not have manufactured a finer leader if they tried. He pisses Labour off because he is successful. Labour has already snidely referred to him as a multi-millionaire (with Cullen even going so far as to call him a traitor to his working class roots—a peculiar statement for a man who entered the labour movement after attending Christ’s College and then immersing himself in an academic career. Cullen and Clark, of course, are both multi-millionaires in their own rights, after twenty-five years of parliamentary service.). Key’s response—that if all the Labour Party can attack is somebody who aspired to greatness and achieved it, then that shows precisely why they shouldn’t be in Government—was priceless. Key has already brought a sense of optimism and aspiration to the leadership in his first speech. I suspect he will spend a lot of time in low income New Zealand showing how socialism neglects the very vulnerable people it pledges to support. My one piece of advice to him is to be bold. Don’t try and out-smarm Cullen. When the first reaction is to smirk, reach for indignation. Get pissed off at how Labour is ruining this country, while showing how much hope there is if we make a change.

Bill English. Had significant caucus support for the leadership, but just wasn’t cutting it in public. The Herald poll last week, which saw Key with 17% of Auckland voters preference for preferred Prime Minister, was the final nail in English’s coffin. In many ways, English should have inherited the social and economic conservative mantle from Jim Bolger. English has been National’s best performer in the House over the last two years, and his Cabinet experience gives him an unrivalled mastery of political and bureaucratic processes. The 2002 defeat was by no means English’s fault—that was the inevitable consequence of nine years of Government prior, and Bolger’s conservative reluctance to renew the Party. The Nats were never going to recover by 2002; in hindsight—although many of us thought it at the time—English should have left Shipley to take the Party into the 2002 election. Hard for him to accept that he won’t be leader again in the foreseeable future, but a commitment to fronting as deputy leader will put many of his skills to exceptional use. Paired with John Key, with a commitment to supporting him, he will make an outstanding contribution to the next National Cabinet. English will get Finance, and will master it as he has all his portfolios in opposition and government.

Gerry Brownlee has surprised me with how well he has performed as deputy leader. Gerry has done very well in the House, against Cullen’s formidable debating expertise. He has been unreservedly loyal to Don Brash. He has won the respect of caucus. Over time, he has refined his management skills, and is a solid operator. He has shown maturity in stepping aside, and realises that a long term as a government minister beats a short one as deputy leader of the opposition any day of the week. If Gerry keeps State Services, he should focus entirely on making dramatic cuts to the size of the core public service, which has ballooned in the last seven years with no increase in state delivery. Far too many bureaucrats chase their own tails creating unnecessary work for themselves. A 20% reduction in the core state sector would be a bloody good start.

Katherine Rich. Currently Economic Development spokesperson, where the Nats have a mind-boggling twelve associate portfolios in that role. Bloody overkill for a portfolio that has only been established to monitor Labour’s stupendous waste under the guise of “economic development”. The Ministry of Economic Development is a bureaucratic monolith. One of the best early means of achieving economic development is to scrap the department entirely, and force the bureaucrats to find productive employment.

Simon Power. Smart, engaging guy. Has leadership potential in the next ten years. Needs Cabinet experience, but has the abilities to make serious impact. Doing very well in law and order, but there’s not actually much scope for structural reform in that portfolio. Should probably get his teeth stuck into labour, industrial relations, and ACC, where he can make a serious difference.

Judith Collins. Hasn’t performed particularly well in the last year, with some lacklustre presentations at Party gatherings. Very strong personality who doesn’t tolerate bullshit. Can be a bit of a ball-breaker, and made an unfortunate comment about David Benson-Pope in the House earlier in the year. Channeled in the right direction, she should be a power-house in the Party. If she can get her shit together next year, she will be a key part of the dream team at the next election. Collins is a natural reformer, and is doing a lot of good work around minimising welfare dependency. I want to hear her come out and advocate time limits on unemployment, mandatory parenting, drug check, criminal screening, housing, health, and school attendance requirements to provide minimum standards of care for children of long-term beneficiaries, and plans to identify and actively manage at-risk children.

Tony Ryall. Needs to focus on the massive waste in public health. Has performed very well in the House, landing serious hits against Hodgson. Needs to formulate a plan to get rid of at least half of the health bureaucracy, rationalisation of public health services, and reframe public expectations as to what the public health system can deliver. This is the major inconvenient truth of Government: Labour has always recognized that public health spending is limited, but refuses to say so publicly. The outrageous consequence—that health expenditure has risen more than fifty percent as a proportion of GDP in the last seven years—with no increase in health outcomes, has led to massive waste in public health. Ryall needs to front the public education campaign. Many public expectations of what the public health system can provide have never actually been provided, and are not ever affordable. Unless Government has the balls to clearly articulate what it can deliver in public health, and focuses on what it can deliver, the taxpayer will continue to flush vast sums of money on health activities that achieve no result.

Don Brash. Would be a bloody shame to see this guy go completely. The only serious portfolio left for him where he can make a major difference, is education, vacated by English. Brash has the ability to pick through the crap and deliver strong, sound policy here. The public education sector has also enlarged to unsustainable levels in the last seven years, to the extent that young school-leavers are encouraged to become journalists and professional photographers, only to find there is no work for them at the end of the process. Brash has the unrivalled authority to set clear standards in the tertiary education system, and weed out the politically correct shite that passes itself off for university teaching. With Brash applying himself to the tertiary education sector, he can hand over to Allan Peachey the task of setting standards in the compulsory school sector.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nicky Hager is right! Give that boy a gong!

Nicky Hager's publication of Don Brash's private emails is evidence of very shocking actions, indeed.

Don Brash's email collection includes what Scoop has termed the "smoking gun". The email clearly shows that a couple of Exclusive Brethren members were at a breakfast function attended by 300 other people, at which Don Brash and John Key were present. That should be a shock to us all. It clearly undermines democracy to think that the Exclusive Brethren can eat breakfast with non-members of their church.

The email also clearly demonstrates that the Exclusive Brethren sent an email. I am mortified that they use this technology.

The email further shows that some members of the church don't like the Labour Party, and that they wanted to help to get rid of it. I think we should pass laws making it illegal to work against the Labour Government.

The email shows that the Brethren planned a pro-Brash campaign. It is utterly disgraceful that the Brethren subsequently changed tack, and actually created an anti-Green campaign instead.

Clearly the socialists, including Labour Cabinet Ministers and Labour officials had no involvement in union-organised anti-National campaigns that swallowed up vast amounts of union funding during the election. We know that there was no discussion between Government and Unions with regards to the unions' active campaign, because that oh-so-balanced chappie, Nicky Hager, hasn't published a book about union-Labour Party collusion

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Step on up, John!

Your turn now, buddy.

Time to kick some socialist arse.

The pinkos shat their pants when Don Brash became leader three years ago. John Key's imminent elevation will fast-track the demise of the Labour Party.

As we all know, the Labour Party doesn't have any internal politicking or machinations; every member is squeaky-clean, there is no conniving, no manipulation, no special interest groups, no fringe organisations with any influence over the Labour Party, no large donors making anonymous or "arms-length" transactions, no special dealing...

You pinkos must wake up every morning with a constant sense of wonder as to how moral and proper your democratic party organisation is.

Don Brash is a very good man, who brought National to the brink of a historic win in 2005. If Labour hadn't corruptly misappropriated public funds to outspend everybody else in the election campaign, Don Brash would be Prime Minister right now. He has more personal integrity in one strand of his combover than every Labour caucus member who has served as an MP in the last twenty years.

Fascinating how the Labour Party can dish the worst kind of political smear in recent history against a man they consistently had confidence in to run the New Zealand economy for 14 years, and the most you pinkos can do is gloat about doing him in.

I'm not surprised that Don Brash is quitting politics. The Labour Party carried out an act of political assassination using the filthiest tactics.

I'm reminded how Muldoon's personal destruction of both Colin Moyle and Bill Rowling directly led to the election of David Lange to Parliament, and the leadership respectively.

Bring on John Key. Fuckers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

IP's Greatest Hits Volume II

Personal communications can be pretty damning affairs. They become even more so with the power of email, and the subsequent inability to control distribution of the information.

In recent times, I have emailed friends and associates making suggestions which, if they became public, could ruin my future political career. In light of this, I make the following confessions:

  • I am currently having a bet with Wellington friends on the exact date of Fidel Castro’s death. How it works is, every person in the group pledges a dollar for every day that Castro survives his terminal cancer. When the Cuban monster finally does shuffle off his mortal coil, we will have an exceptionally long lunch with the proceeds of the pool. The prize pool has now exceeded the $500 limit set by the gambling commission. Technically, we are now in breach of New Zealand gambling legislation.
  • I emailed an American friend last month with an invitation to tactically nuke Castro’s funeral. In attendance will be all sorts of international socialists, tyrants, and miscellaneous shit-stirrers: Venezuela’s Chavez, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Britain’s Gordon Brown and George Galloway, France’s Segolene Royal, Canada’s Bill Graham, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Norway’s Tarja Halonen, along with the despotic leaders of half of Africa’s failed states. It will basically be a world forum for filthy pinkos, of which only Hillary Clinton and Russell Brown, who’s too cheap to pay his own airfare, will be excluded. One tactical nuke over Havana would achieve an enormous amount of international good.
  • As a solution to global warming, I have advocated to Chinese and Indian friends, a surprise nuking of China and India. My argument is that the world has twice its sustainable world population; Europe is declining in population, and there are plenty of Chinese and Indians on the planet outside of China and India, and that since Africa is dying of AIDS anyway, getting rid of India and China will promote global harmony on an ecologically sustainable basis.
  • I have emailed Arab friends suggesting that nuking the middle east will resolve conflict there. Egypt is fairly stable, and I don’t want to get rid of Israel, because Israeli girls are hot, so it is, on reflection, better to use chemical weapons or neutron bomb technology on the Middle East, excluding Israel and Egypt.
  • I have offered financial and/or alcoholic rewards to people willing to shoot the following persons, in no particular order:
  • Trevor Mallard
  • Pete Hodgson
  • Michael Cullen
  • Judith Tizard
  • Brian Connell again
  • Jeanette Fitzsimons
  • Nick Smith
  • My Boss
  • Winston Peters
  • Nicky Hager
  • Brian Rudman
  • Mike Williams
  • Steve Maharey
  • Oliver Driver
  • David Benson-Pope
  • I have also offered inducements to other people to stab, punch, or poke-in-the-eye a broad range of bloggers and commentators.
  • I have speculated to friends and associates who do not sponsor me for movember, that there is a direct link between their tight-fistedness and a higher chances that they will develop prostate cancer.
  • I have emailed hot chicks with specific instructions on how to dump their boyfriends. When I was in the third form, I bribed a skinny kid to vote me Class Captain with a cream donut. I won the election by one vote.
  • I have emailed our HR person with suggested reviews of our corporate hiring policy, including discriminating against socialists, vegetarians, and cat-lovers.
In the interests of political transparency, it is now vital for Helen Clark and Nicky Hager to release all her private emails, which will similarly disclose her criminal activities.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Now this is cool...

Just bloody do it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

That New Collossus

I’ll put it on record that I detest that cretin Trevor Mallard. As Minister of State Services, he has presided over the ballooning of the state sector. As Minister of Education, he has made New Zealand’s compulsory education sector a place of public ridicule. As Minister of Economic Development, he watches over massive slush funds to mediocre socialist cronies who can’t otherwise foot it in free enterprise, so that he can proclaim some kind of perceived wisdom of “economic transformation”. It’s a catch-phrase that has excited some of the Labour Party focus groups, but there’s not really any substance to it.

Yet I am a fair-minded person. In the sport portfolio, Mallard, in no small way aided by the fortunes of economic prosperity and ballooning government surpluses, has pushed a lot of money into sport. The results have been mixed, at best. But he has come up with our money, and got the photo opportunities. Politically, he’s been very effective.

And now we get to this stadium thing.

In 1995, as a Wellingtonian, I was edgy, at best, about Mayor Fran Wilde’s plan for the Wellington Stadium. The original cost, of $70 million, was just never likely to be contained. I really didn’t like the idea of a rugby stadium being promoted as multi-purpose—the pitch requirements for a rugby stadium, where the closely-packed spectators need to be close to the action in a ninety-minute game, are very different from a five-day test match, where the spectators lounge about for seven hours, enjoying the sun and the atmosphere, and fleeting moments of cricketing brilliance. A test cricket ground really needs to be much larger than a rugby ground: the Basin Reserve is still the finest cricket ground in the country, and even early on, nobody was silly enough to promote the proposed Cake Tin as a test cricket venue.

Those reservations aside, the Wellington Stadium is that city’s greatest asset. Sure, more people flow through Te Papa’s doors, but only the Stadium creates that intense, booze-fuelled entertainment atmosphere that makes Wellington the place to be on a Super 14 night, and will carry the bar and restaurant trade through for the subsequent few days.

Let’s look at the issues. If we assume that New Zealand needs a national stadium, the only choices are Eden Park or the Waterfront. North Harbour and Western Springs simply aren’t on the table, and they never will be.

Location. Eden Park is not a spectacular venue. I happen to live nearby, and I make sure that I’m either out of town or at the game when a big match is on. Even a half-filled Eden Park causes a traffic nightmare for the whole day. It’s a relatively minor sacrifice on the scheme of things, and is pretty much confined to Mt Eden and Kingsland residents, but it’s fair to say it’s not ideal to have a national stadium in a prime suburban area. Wellington has shown that an inner-city stadium close to public transport infrastructure is far superior to Athletic Park for rugby.

Tradition. Eden Park has been the prime rugby venue in New Zealand for eighty years. Many historic rugby games have been played there. That’s all true. The same was said of Athletic Park in 1995. Athletic Park was a dedicated rugby venue; Eden Park has never been. Despite all the nostalgia, Eden Park suffers because it has to accommodate the needs of cricket; it does neither particularly well. Eden Park has one nice fa├žade; unless you’ve got a decent corporate box, chances are you will be uncomfortable at the Park.

Timing. Trevor Mallard is rail-roading the issue through without adequate public consultation. That’s a valid criticism. He absolutely is rail-roading it through, and he’s hijacked the process with a degree of shamelessness that only Mallard could manage. To be fair to him, tho’, the real question is what further public consultation would achieve. Already with two weeks of talks, Auckland City Council has shown that it can’t achieve consensus on anything. The Auckland region has had years to come up with decent and sound plan for Auckland roading, and is still found wanting. Mallard doesn’t have the backing of Auckland rugby or the Council; the former have a major vested interest in Eden Park; the latter are too bloody stupid to grasp the torch at the right end.

Economic and Construction Risks. Cost of construction at the Waterfront will be substantially more than at Eden Park. This is one of the critical issues. Mallard says the Waterfront option will cost taxpayers $500 million; it will probably be twice that.

Economic Viability. Mallard is promoting the Waterfront Stadium as a key part of Labour’s “economic transformation” agenda. Frankly, that argument is hogwash. Even at the most conservative cost estimate of half a billion dollars, the Waterfront Stadium would need to be run to capacity every week for the whole year to be make an economic return. That simply isn’t going to happen. Having said that, ploughing $300 million into Eden Park won’t extract any economic return, either. Stadiums as a whole simply aren’t economic investments. Nor, for that matter, is public transport. There are so-called externalities: the Auckland Viaduct has delivered “atmospheric” gains to Auckland far above the cost of construction, but there’s nothing to say that the Waterfront Stadium will transform the Ports area in a similar way. It is clear that Eden Park delivers minimal externalities to Kingsland, and that there is very little entertainment infrastructure around Wellington’s Stadium, almost seven years after opening. Typically, spectators head off to Courtenay Place after a game. It is likely that after a game at the Waterfront, crowds will head over to the Viaduct.

Feasibility of Construction. Critics claim that the Waterfront Stadium can never be built on time. Similar critics made similar claims about preparedness of Stadium Australia for the Olympics, and, for that matter, the ability of every Olympic host to be ready for the Games. While costs have always ballooned, every Olympic venue has always been ready when Games have opened. There is always a mad rush at the end, but when a national spirit is harnessed to achieve a national goal, it can be achieved.

Don Brash has reasonably floated the risks associated with the project. It is the biggest public works development since Think Big. It is potentially a political nightmare. What is clear is that the only way the Waterfront can be achieved is if somebody with Mallard’s skills rams the concept through, and if very clear risk mitigation measures are put in place. Fletcher Construction have been handed the Stadium on a plate. It’s Mallard’s job to hold them to account. It is the first visionary step from a Labour Minister in seven years. The Waterfront option will be hideously expensive for the taxpayer. But it really is the only option for a truly National Stadium.

It took the force of personality of Fran Wilde to pull together Wellington over six years; we don't have that time now. If Mallard can pull it off, I might even choose not to spit on him next time I see him. Just bloody well do it, and make sure you do it bloody well.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Other Inconvenient Truth

When I was a member of Victoria University’s Academic Board, I had the particular experience of sitting next to Religious Studies Professor Paul Morris at Board meetings. He had the very typically academic capacity to coherently use such words as “exegetic”, “detraditionalisation”, and spoke of “ethical moods”. He had the admirable scholastic ability to talk at length on any subject, and make simple topics sound very complex indeed. He would lean forward and gesticulate, as if making a very profound statement, and then say: “On the other hand…”, and completely contradict himself. Academics adored him for his little knowing smirks, at weighty analyses without conclusions, to assure them that if they had followed his unnecessarily verbose and complex reasoning, they too were worthy. In short, he was a pain in the bloody arse.

Morris has since graduated to becoming the prototypical ring-in on ethical and religious issues. Hence, when the Labour Party needed somebody to lecture them on the Exclusive Brethren at their conference, they called in Professor Morris. Morris gave them what they wanted: the Exclusive Brethren are evil, they do strange things, and according to Morris, they aren’t even Christians. Christians, the learned Morris believes, are closely attuned to Socialism.

Paul Morris offers his opinion on everything, whether invited or not. That celebrated bastion of intellectual credibility, the Marsden Fund, paid Morris a very healthy sum so that the Religious Studies specialist could write a very esteemed work on the New Right in New Zealand from 1984-1999. Morris, who has no qualifications in economics or political science, has top billing for the book on VUW’s Religious Studies website, above an evidently much less religiously relevant text published by the department, a directory of “Interfaith and Ecumenical Activity in New Zealand”.

But I digress. Morris’ seminar at Labour’s Conference prefaced the announcement of a Christian wing within the Labour Party. Putting aside her devout atheism and her refusal to acknowledge the importance of Christianity to large tracts of New Zealand society, Helen Clark has embraced the concept. Clearly now that Labour is dredging the polling abyss at 36% of the vote, there might just be electoral advantage in presenting itself as the morally compassionate party.

It is hard to refute Morris’ view, that the redistribution of wealth in society is something that Jesus would have favoured. After all, Christ did speak at length about the plight of the impoverished and disadvantaged. But it is another step entirely to draw the conclusion that welfare dependency is compassionate.

Yet Paul Morris' world view doesn't actually extend beyond the ivory rises of Kelburn Parade in Wellington.

A relative of mine got involved with a chick from Wellington’s most disadvantaged suburb of Cannons’ Creek. If you haven’t heard of Cannons’ Creek, it’s in Porirua East. People in Porirua West invent all sorts of new names for their comparatively prosperous lifestyles, just to distinguish themselves from the perennial misery of Cannons’ Creek. Outside of South Auckland, Cannons’ Creek has the worst educational achievement, the worst standards of housing and healthcare, the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, and violent and petty crime in the country. Pick any negative social statistic, and Cannons’ Creek rates alongside Otahuhu, Otara and Mangere.

Bear with me here, because it gets a little bit complicated. This relative of mine, and his partner, were the caregivers of her nephew and niece for a year. They were aged eleven and nine. They had different fathers, but the same mother. The mother had three further children to a third father, who was living with her while receiving the unemployment benefit and dealing marijuana, but took to beating the bejeezus out of his two defacto step-children. The father then impregnated the mother’s best friend, and while that best friend was pregnant, took care of the youngest baby so that she could receive the DPB until she gave birth. He then had three further children by the first mother. The mother then required that her two eldest children, in the care of their aunt and my relative, be returned to her when she realised that not having them had an impact on her benefit.

This woman has had eight children by three different fathers, none of whom are named on the children’s birth certificates. The children are subjected to domestic violence, are rarely present at school, live in third-world housing conditions, and receive little nutritional encouragement.

They do, however, have plenty of family around them. Six of their mothers’ siblings live in the same street, in a row of state houses. Of the seven adults, not one of them has achieved any formal educational qualification. They have over sixty first cousins. Not one of their parents’ generation has ever held a full-time job. Of the four living generations of that family in that Cannons Creek street, not one of them has ever been exposed to paid employment. This fourth generation of welfare-dependent children may well be born with the same genetic opportunities as a child from Khandallah or Remuera, but forty years’ of welfare dependency means that these children will grow up without knowing anybody who works, let alone takes full responsibility for their personal actions.

The precise numbers of hard-core, welfare-dependent New Zealanders is still relatively small. The Kahui families are not the norm. They comprise less than two percent of the population. Yet they contribute massively disproportionately to New Zealand’s negative social statistics: 95% of New Zealand’s violent offenders are aged between 15-25. 95% of those offenders are welfare-dependent, with substance abuse, poor housing, no educational achievement, short life expectancy, poor health standards and poor nutrition all being common themes. They tend to most often victimise each other. But not always.

The social cost is astronomical. Encouraging small clusters of the most socially disadvantaged New Zealanders to continue to see welfare dependency as their only life option is anything but compassionate. It is not the children’s fault that they were born into deprivation. It is frankly not their parents’ fault that the socialist state has told them, and their parents before them, that their welfare-based lifestyle choices are morally neutral. After forty years of a so-called benevolent welfare state, the options for the least advantaged in New Zealand have become singular.

Putting aside Labour’s electoral need for a societal underdog, creating a culture of envy towards those who prosper and do actually have lifestyle options, it’s hard to see how anybody can alleviate extreme poverty by advocating further welfare dependency. It simply doesn’t make moral sense to encourage people who cannot afford to have their present children to have more children. It doesn’t make moral sense to remove people from the economic consequences of their personal decisions. It makes even less moral sense to do that when the personal decision involves the creation of another human being who will inevitably be born into social misery.

Liberals don’t like the idea of society making moral decisions on behalf of people, yet liberal socialists advocate taking economic responsibility away from those who are welfare-dependent. The only practical solution, as I see it, is far greater intervention in the lives of the most socially destitute, to ensure that poverty shrinks, rather than grows.

But let’s get to specifics. What would help end the cycle of welfare dependency in New Zealand among the hard-core Kahuis of South Auckland and Cannons Creek? Here are a few steps, to be applied to the most vulnerable families:

  1. Every child receiving welfare must have their father named on their birth certificates. Liberal socialists will shriek such all sorts of hysterical things about mothers being raped, but you can’t set public policy around very rare events.
  2. No welfare entitlements to the father of children living with mothers on the DPB.
  3. Fathers not entitled to leave New Zealand while children living with a dependent DPB beneficiary.
  4. Requirement that all children must attend school. Non-attendance would lead to the benefit being cancelled.
  5. All children must receive medical check-ups at least every six months, to check on the nutritional and general health status of the child.
  6. Random alcohol and drug checks of welfare parents.
  7. No violent offenders permitted to live in the same home as children.
  8. A maximum six months of entitlement to the unemployment benefit in any five year period, and a maximum of two years’ entitlement to the DPB for any person in their lifetime.
  9. Frequent, random checks of homes of welfare dependent children.

The economic costs of those steps would be very high in the short term. The social cost of not doing it is even higher, now and in the long term. It’s the compassionate thing to do.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pay it Back NOW!

With Labour’s announcement that it will repay the $800,000 of public money it spent on last year’s election, it’s worth examining Labour’s claim to be poor.

The Labour Party is the most asset-rich of all registered political parties. It uses the income from over $6 million in property assets to fund election activity.

The New Zealand Labour Party is an unincorporated society. As such, it is not required to report its finances, and is not subject to the audit requirements of incorporated societies and limited liability companies. It is generally understood that in a non-election year, Labour’s annual budget of $1.5 million is funded primarily from income from property assets, subscriptions from affiliated unions, and a core membership of around 5,000 members.

The downside of being an unincorporated society is that the New Zealand Labour Party is not permitted to hold property. Instead, property is owned by a selection of private trusts and incorporated societies that receive beneficial tax status, and hold that property on behalf of the New Zealand Labour Party.

A selection of Labour’s property assets includes:
Dannevirke Labour $15,700
Greymouth Labour Branch $40,000
Labour Properties Inc $4,800,000***
NZ Labour Party Clubrooms Inc $140,000
Picton Branch $11,000
Thames Branch $83,000
Dunedin South $770,000

Labour’s wealth outstrips National’s asset base by a factor of 10-1. National’s only property asset—a floor of Willbank House in Willis Street—is valued at around $700,000. Labour’s claims to be poor simply don’t stack up. It begs the question why a party with such a large property portfolio needs ten months to repay misappropriated spending from last election.

Helen Clark is asking Labour’s core supporters to front up and take responsibility for this. The answer to Labour is simple: if Labour’s caucus, who are responsible for the over-spend, can’t front up with the cash immediately, then Labour should mortgage or sell some of its massive property portfolio.

***UPDATE: I used some conservative estimate of the value of the portfolio in Labour Properties Incorporated, pending valuation reports which I have now received for each of the eleven properties owned by Labour Properties Incorporated.

As of this afternoon, I now have a full break-down of rating valuations for all the properties in Labour Properties, with the exception of one. The numbers are:
Fraser Body House $4,000,000
7 Fulton Crescent $330,000
1/332 Massey Road $416,000
300 Great North Road $470,000
Palmerston North $203,000
Domain Avenue $105,000
4 Regent Road Dunedin $440,000
203 Warrant Street North$223,000
651 Ferry Road ChCh $130,000
1 Pharazyn Street $240,000
Total $6,557,000

A *very* conservative estimate of the Takapuna property--prime commercial real estate on the North Shore--is $2 million. All up, Labour's assets are much closer to $10 million.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Remembering Waterloo...

I am not a person who begs or offers compromise. There is no such thing as half-sin. I admit that I can be occasionally dogmatic. Occasionally, some might say that I take an unreasonably intractable stance. I loathe socialists. I dislike liberals. I hold the entire Labour Party in contempt. There’s just far too much tolerance for the kind of dishonest, incompetent shits who will preside over $25 billion in fiscal surpluses over the last three years and look you in the eye and say there has been no money for tax cuts.

Fuckers. That’s what they are. There is no room for justification for that kind of dogmatic incompetence that is starving the New Zealand economy of productive growth.

Labour is now wriggling and writhing with anything but contrition for stealing $800k of taxpayer’s money to outspend everybody else during the election campaign. Their hastily-compiled thebigwhiparound will show them just how much support they have lost from their own voters. Labour has fewer than 5,000 members—less than a quarter of National’s membership. Political parties generally find it notoriously difficult to fund-raise outside an election year at the best of times. Labour has no financial reserves: they spent their entire war chest at the last election, and dipped into public funds to outspend everybody else, because they didn’t have any cash of their own left. Labour is very lucky that the Auditor-General did not have the power to require parties to pay back the overspending: if they had, Labour would be looking down the barrel of insolvency as a political party.

Labour is now in Government due to the choices of 22,753 voters who swung to Labour instead of National. That’s less than 1% of the vote. Labour also misused some $800,000 of public funds to outspend everybody else during the election campaign by the same amount. It is all very well for slimy pinko activists to say that the pledge card had little effect on the result—except that Labour’s own strategists claimed before the election that its pledge card was the key plank of Labour’s campaign. It’s also clear that Labour’s massive publicly-funded electioneering—which amounted to a 40% publicity boost over National, particularly in the critical last few days of the campaign—must have had some effect. Just how effective it was can be disputed, but the effect of Labour’s taxpayer-funded spend-up has put the 2005 election result as a whole in doubt.

Ordinary Labour members aren’t going to cough up $200 each to fund the corrupt actions of Labour’s caucus. Labour’s leadership is in a state of delusion if it believes that Labour’s members will front up with cash.

Of course, Helen Clark and Mike Williams need to put up the pretense of exploring all avenues possible before hitting up Labour’s own caucus for the balance of what it owes. $20,000 per MP will hit them hard in the pocket, and will cause serious rumblings within caucus. That won’t be soothed by Labour’s slide in the polls, and the prospect that many sitting MPs will be turfed out will make them even more anxious and unhappy.

The three options for Labour are:

  1. Limit third-party funding of attack campaigns. Big consequences on freedom of speech, this is Labour’s Exclusive Brethren cause. Labour thinks it’s harming National, allegedly on the basis of Exclusive Brethren political activities in the last election. The National Party doesn’t need the Exclusive Brethren. They were a pain in the arse last election, and an embarrassment to National because of their political naivety. The EBs spent fairly large amounts of cash last election, with no positive return to National. Really, banning the Exclusive Brethren from campaigning is a blessing for Don Brash.What also occurred during the campaign was massive amounts of spending and activity by trade unions supporting the Labour Party by attacking National. They will also be covered by this clause, and limited in their campaigning.
  2. Limit anonymous donations to political parties. Labour is convinced it’s onto a winner here, despite the fact that Labour has received more in anonymous and corporate donations than National in all but one of the last seven years. Labour will also taunt National with the prospect of lowering the threshold for declaration of anonymous donations, from $10,000 to $500. That action is likely to publicly disclose the identities of more than 1,000 National Party members. There is no public policy reason for this. Labour’s sole purpose is to allow Labour Party retribution against individual National Party members who do no more than express their democratic right to support a political party that isn’t Labour. Except the political landscape has changed since the last election. For far too long the socialists have done their utmost to effectively communally outlaw any non-PC agenda. Just weeks ago, Pete Hodgson issued eight press releases in seven days calling on Don Brash to resign. His sole argument was that Don Brash doesn’t share Labour Party values. In an hysterical flurry of interviews that shrieked of Labour’s desperate last gasp towards totalitarianism, Hodgson proclaimed: “It is a fact that Don Brash cannot be Prime Minister. He must go. [Because we say so.]” Labour has now put itself in the position of having no chance of winning the next election. There will be no retribution from Helen Clark if somebody chooses to give $1,000 to National. My response to National members is go ahead and give all you like to the National Party. Do it publicly. Stand up and be counted. Don’t cower at Helen Clark’s threats of bullying.
  3. Public funding of political parties. Labour is already appealing to members to fund last year’s election. Their only means of evening the playing field, as they see it, is to penalize National by as much as possible, and provide for public funds for themselves. Voters will not support Labour’s argument for state funding: they may have done so before the overspending fiasco, but not now. Even Donna Awatere Huata, who faced the consequences of misappropriating Pipi Foundation resources for her private benefit, turned down a bonus payment from Pipi. Helen Clark is showing just how shameless she is by proposing a public funding bonus for taking taxpayer’s money she wasn’t entitled to.

There is nothing that Labour can now do to prevent a massive hemorrhaging of voter support between now and the next election. Labour is careening towards a long period in opposition. As with National from 1998 onwards, Labour has to start thinking about first principles, renewal, new leadership, and revival. The sooner it starts acting on it—and it can only do so while it is not desperately trying to hold onto the Government benches they obtained illegitimately—the sooner Labour will become a political force again.

National, on the other hand, has become the defacto Government-in-exile. Don Brash has to continue acting as the Prime Minister in waiting, with only the next election and a massive endorsement from a public sick and tired of Labour’s ineptitude, incompetence, socialist mind-control and corruption, standing between New Zealand voters and responsible government.

My advice to Labour is to do whatever you like to punish the National Party for Labour’s own disgraceful lying, cheating, and theft. Whatever vindictive actions you take now, you will not succeed in cheating voters out of responsible Government next time. Change the rules to make it easier for you steal money again, and the public will thump you harder at the polls.

My advice to Don Brash is to start talking about his first acts as Prime Minister, once voters have turfed out this torrid, awful government. Announce that his first move will be to cut any proposed state funding of political parties, and get parliamentary noses out of public troughs. Whatever Labour do to feather their own nests, Don Brash will reverse. Don Brash’s rules—no public funding of promotion of any parliamentary activities in the three months prior to an election—will eliminate electioneering rorts from Labour happening again. A full commission of inquiry by an independent and respected High Court judge, examining all of the allegations of misdeeds by all political parties and their associates, will take the self-serving interests of MPs out of their hands, and do much more to restore credibility in New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy.

I expect in the next week or so, Don Brash and Judy Kirk will announce an important National fundraising campaign to prepare National for the next election. They believe it will be sooner, rather than later. Unlike Labour supporters, aggrieved at being asked to pay for Labour MPs' wrongdoings, National supporters will be paying for a genuine cause of change.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Farewell, Walter...

Walter Hadlee has played his last innings. A creditable player at a time when New Zealand couldn't compete internationally, he was a dogged leader who brought together the likes of Bert Sutcliffe, John Reid, Martin Donnelly, Jack Cowie, and the much under-rated Merv Wallace. As with all the cricketers of his age, a seven year hole in Hadlee's time at the crease was attributable to World War II. Hadlee went on to become Chairman of New Zealand cricket: his gutsy character brought him into conflict with that other most dominant and bloody-minded cricketing personality of the 1970's, Glenn Maitland Turner.

Walter was an odd character. It takes a certain kind of obsessive mind to play test cricket. It takes an even more compulsive personality to captain his country; to breed three international cricketers is simply insane.

For the last sixty years Walter has been the grand old man of New Zealand cricket. His favourite party trick was based on his fanatical devotion to numbers and statistics. At a cocktail party, he would ask somebody their age and birthday. Within an instant, he would say: "Ah, you were born on a Tuesday."

Walter will now be debating Inzy's suspension with St Peter, and telling God what day He was born. Farewell, old chap.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Life (And Death) Of Brian

Every political party has its clever people. They live and breathe the game of politics far more than policy itself. There was once a time in the National Party when a tiny group of activists were individually referred to, in private, as the “Nth most EVIL person in the National Party”. There were about four of them in total. They played poker, stayed up all night at Party conferences brokering information, and argued the future of right wing politics.

They existed as a de facto group of Young Turks, arguing for change in a tired old party that was destined for a long walk in the wilderness until they reformed their Old Guard. It was a strange assortment of Wellington-based folk: they loathed Winston and his coalition, and believed that after nine years of selling the same team to the public, the public would bite them back. 1999, and 2002, proved exactly that.

The Labour Party has had its cabals: their internal and external factional powerbrokers will plot and plan its future even when the going is good. Helen Clark, Pete Hodgson, Trevor Mallard, Steve Maharey, Phil Goff, and David Benson-Pope have no great policy framework for the country. They simply enjoy the thrill of wielding and trading political power. Their unity is contingent on their ability to read the political tea-leaves and stay ahead in the polls. When they fail in that respect, they disintegrate. It’s now a matter of survival for them, since they have become Labour’s Old Guard. It is tired and reactionary. As Helen Clark comes under fire for strategic mis-steps, her only instinct is to fight back as viciously as her instincts can.

The atmosphere at the Ellerslie Racecourse on election night, September 17, 2005, was electrifying. Don Brash, the rookie MP who had become rookie National leader in his first term, had managed to double National’s vote at the polls. There were well over 1,000 supporters present. In the space of a year, Brash had rebuilt the National Party from near annihilation to within a whisker of the Government benches. He had rebranded the Party, and in his wake, had brought forth a whole new battalion of MPs.

Twenty-three of National’s current MPs are new faces. They owe their places in Parliament directly to the brand that Don Brash took to the country last year. That, coupled with the overwhelming support he got for taking the leadership on before the election, make his personal support in caucus very strong.

Brash’s leadership position isn’t set in stone. It is dependent on his ability to keep National in the lead. But with an eight point difference, and gaining, between National and Labour, only an absolute moron would suggest that National dumps Brash. Bill English and John Key may have leadership ambitions: but both know that they are far better placed to inherit the Prime Ministership when Brash chooses to step down, than to cause squabbles in the Party that prevent either of them becoming Cabinet ministers after the next election.

It is now a statement of political fact that only a complete moron, or a Labour Party supporter, would advocate Don Brash relinquishing the leadership of the Party when he has Helen Clark, and the Labour Party, so clearly spread on the racks. To their credit, the Labour Party is saying precisely that. Not content with losing the battle over their misuse of taxpayer’s funds on the pledge card, and finding that their strategy of personal smear against Don Brash made them less popular with the public, they are simply calling for his head.

In the last week, Labour’s Pete Hodgson has issued no less than nine press releases calling for him to resign. It seems slightly bizarre that Hodgson, who is also Minister of Health, has had nothing health-related to talk about at the same time that Helen Clark vows off attack-politics. It is the equivalent of parliamentary stalking from Hodgson, and a strange kind of obsessive-compulsive behaviour from a man whose only strategic contribution to Labour in the last few weeks has been a strategic collapse of Labour’s support base.

Labour wants Brash’s leadership to become the issue. They need him to go if they have any chance of sneaking through another election. It’s understandable that they would target him. Yet they have become so blatantly obsessed with him that whatever they say from this point forward can only cement his leadership. Helen Clark’s government has become so untrustworthy that the more Labour attacks Brash, the more the public want him as Prime Minister.

National’s caucus, with one glaring exception, has been impeccably disciplined in recent weeks. They maintained a clear focus of attack on Labour’s corruption, and did not hold back from that clear focus when Labour started a dirty war. They did not retaliate on Labour’s terms. They maintained their dignity when Labour dragged National’s leader through the mud, and refused to speculate on Labour-driven spin on Brash’s leadership.

Labour has continued to lie and obfuscate, to its own detriment. Whereas once political commentators admired a Prime Minister who could stand up and openly claim that she had had conversations with Gallery journalists confirming various rumours, now the Gallery journalists are not prepared to go along with her spin. Kevin Brady, the Auditor-General, has made it clear that he will not accept untruths told about him, for the sake of the Prime Minister’s political expediency. That brilliant gall, which allowed Helen Clark to spin her way out of any controversy, is failing her. Her spin has lost any subtlety. Voters simply do not trust her.

Which brings me to Brian Connell. The Rakaia MP has studied Helen Clark over the past four years, and has formed the impression that he too is worth of a large office on the ninth floor. Except Connell has never understood subtlety. When a lone MP makes a dig at a party leader, it is wise to have other MPs supporting him. Connell hasn’t. The preposterous spectacle of the Labour Party egging Connell on, suggesting that Connell is a symptom of some gaping faction within the National Party, has ridiculed the mid-Canterbury MP. After writing his own political eulogy, by leaking discussions of a caucus meeting to the Independent’s Tim Donohue, Connell has finished his career himself.

Connell claims not to have been the leak after the caucus meeting. Instead, when the Independent story broke, Connell responded to media inquiries, saying that he was not the leak, but that since the information had been leaked, he was free to comment on it. That, of itself, constituted an act of shit-stirring that is unacceptable for a member of a political party. If Connell had said absolutely nothing to the general media after the original leak, it is possible he could have avoided sanction from the Party. That he chose to speak publicly confirming the caucus discussion demonstrates a baffling degree of political stupidity expected of Judith Tizard and her ilk. It’s not befitting of a National Party MP.

Connell is, of course, technically telling the truth about the caucus leak. Connell did not speak to Tim Donohue after the caucus meeting. Except two facts are crucial, and have not yet come to light. Firstly, Donohue, who is very close to Brian Connell, was able to quote events at the caucus meeting word-for-word. Secondly, Connell has refused to release his cellphone records on the day of the caucus meeting to the Whip’s office. Don Brash, and the National Caucus, have considerable reason to believe that during the caucus meeting, Connell’s cellphone was on, and open in a call to Tim Donohue. Connell didn’t have to comment to Donohue: he had the discussion verbatim anyway.

That act of sabotage by an MP has no place in the National Party. Brian Connell doesn’t represent any kind of tradition of “Young Turks” in any political movement, except the Labour Party.

They’re welcome to have him. With Taito Phillip Field on the way out, they may well need him.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Seems that there is a vast right wing conspiracy, after all.

He/she has published a song, Pay It Back.

I didn't know the Exclusive Brethren could sing so badly.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Sometimes it's nice to get another reassurance that our Rt Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs is doing his best to protect the taxpayer's interest in state assets. Consider this confidence-inspiring response to a question in the House, concerning a Close Up programme the night before:

R Doug Woolerton: Did Television New Zealand accurately portray the interest that the Minister has taken in this case?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Absolutely no. Television New Zealand last night completely misrepresented my letter to Mr Robinson’s family. [...]

R Doug Woolerton: Why does the Minister believe that Close Up’s report is so at odds with other reports that he has received?


Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most of the reports on this matter are from reputable and highly professional Government agencies. The other report is a desperate attempt, with baseless tabloid journalism by a failing news organisation and its washed-up head of news, Bill Ralston, to win back the hundreds of thousands of viewers who are deserting Television New Zealand in droves. If this is the best that Mr Ralston has to offer the viewing public of New Zealand, it is little wonder that those who care about accurate news coverage that puts the facts before the egos of journalists are crying for his head.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sinister Elements: Pete's Story

A close friend of mine (for the purposes of this post, I shall call him “Pete”) works for a large consulting firm. Pete has a nice home in an exclusive Auckland suburb. He and his wife drive new model European cars. He plays golf on Friday afternoons. He earns well over $500,000 a year. He has little interest in politics.

Pete guy lives a privileged lifestyle. He has done exceptionally well over the last seven years. Although the economy has been pretty good, and he has property investments that have funded his retirement twenty years before he is entitled to superannuation, he owes much of his success to Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Trevor Mallard, Annette King, and Steve Maharey. Between them, these five Ministers have presided over the fastest growth in the State Sector that New Zealand has seen since 1935.

It is difficult for those who live outside Wellington to comprehend just how enormous this public sector growth has been. The ballooning of the state is the direct reason why 62 of New Zealand’s 100 largest employers are in the state sector.

This development has been very beneficial to certain business interests who have been smart enough to engage with Wellington politicians and bureaucrats. Pete is at the centre of one of these business interests. Like all good businessmen, he goes where the money is. And the amount of cash flowing out of government departments on very large-scale, multi-multi-million dollar projects, is astronomical. The State is spending seventeen billion dollars more today than it is six years ago. Pete’s very happy with how this Labour Government has helped his business.

Pete lunches and socialises with Cabinet ministers and senior officials on a regular basis. He is not the biggest biller of services to Government by any stretch, but his firm will probably provide $10 million in services to various government departments in the next financial year. There are some players in Pete’s industry that will bill an individual government department several times more than that on a single project.

Pete is a sensible guy. He gets good personal financial advice. He’s not a genuine high-net-wealth individual, but he’s getting there. Pete has structured his income through various legal devices so that he is paying tax on only $60,000 a year, and the rest of his income is attributed to loss-qualifying companies. Pete pays a net 6% income tax.

Pete doesn’t stand to gain from tax cuts under a National Government. He’s paying bugger-all tax as it is. His company is rolling in cash, based on services he’s selling to Government clients that have no commercial sense. They don’t know what they’re buying. Government doesn’t care what it’s buying. It has the money, so it must spend. And they’re buying from Pete and many other Petes in Wellington.

Just over a year ago, things changed for Pete. He understood that it’s sort-of fun for a while increasing margins to government clients who don’t care what they’re buying, and making large sums of money in the process: Pete became involved with a project working with people in another company that was charging even more outrageous amounts to Government departments that cared even less what they were buying. Project schedules were over-run, service levels on the project weren’t achieved, and project costs snowballed. The Government client paid the bills, and nobody on the project—the external firms, nor the department’s internal managers, the public servants—were held accountable.

Pete’s outrage at the waste and over-indulgence in the public sector that was making him so much dosh drove him to loathe the current government, and how it was blowing away titanic sums of money for no effect. The issue for him was no longer personal business gain, but core belief. Pete was not a political guy. He could talk to politicians and bureaucrats, and sell them ideas, but he kept out of politics. He didn’t particularly have a great affection for the National Party, but he could see how Labour was destroying New Zealand.

Pete’s decision to donate to the National Party didn’t come lightly. He did so very cautiously. He did it anonymously, without ever having met any National candidate or official. It wasn’t an astronomical sum, but enough for it to be declared. On election day I asked him if he wanted to come to an election-night party; he declined because it didn’t interest him, but wished us luck all the same.

This guy has never met a National Party official. Don Brash has never heard of Pete. Nor has any senior National Party official. And if Pete has it his way, they never will know that he was the source of a donation inspired by his anger and outrage at Labour’s excess in the public sector.

But that wasn’t the only reason Pete wanted to remain anonymous. Just as Pete, and countless another anonymous donors in 2005 donated to Don Brash’s National Party because they were disgusted with the thought of three more years of Labour’s squandering of opportunity, Pete wanted to remain anonymous out of fear. Just as Labour Ministers are now inventing fictitious insurance backers of the National Party, Pete knew the consequences of Labour Ministers knowing of his donation.

The Labour Party is vindictive. There was never going to be a guarantee that if he made a contribution to the National Party, that National would win the election. And Pete and his wife still have to make a living, whether or not Labour is in power. Pete knew that would have been a whole lot harder if his name had ended up on a National Party donors’ list.

History has shown Labour’s motivation to target people it does not like. The public sector's tentacles are very long, and Labour has tamed them reach in every corner that serves its interest. It is these sinister elements drive people to make anonymous donations. Those elements are the fear of reprisals by the Labour Government to a known anti-Labour supporter.

I don’t personally approve of anonymous donations to political parties. If the culture of fear has become so great—and Labour has shown that it will do anything to remain in power, even steal an election with taxpayer funds—then in my mind that shows even more reason why we should stand up and be counted. Far more people need to have the courage to stand up to Labour and say that we will not support graft, vote-buying, and corruption. The more people who are prepared to put their names to their support for National, the easier it will be for others to join us.

And the sooner we do that, the sooner we will be rid of this corrupt gang of political hooligans.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Field of Dreams

Pondering the outstanding cast from Labour’s South Auckland constituency, it’s easy to see why Mangere voters can do without Taito Philip Field for six months while they work out whether he’s a crook or not. Labour's stand-ins in South Auckland will do an outstanding job during Field's absence.

The reason is that Labour has an unparalleled cabal of brilliant and hard-working group of MPs in the Auckland region, who never balk at the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and put in a top performance for the team.

The MP for Mangere may have been banned from his constituency office, and from Parliament, while he sits at home on full pay (including electorate MP allowances) pondering the refurbishment of his seven residential properties and the general management of TP Field Developments Limited. Field does so in the knowledge that neighbouring Labour constituency MPs will be doing their best to represent the good people of Mangere on Field’s behalf.

George Hawkins, the former diligent and hard-working Minister who inspired so many, sits to Mangere’s South East, in Manurewa. Hawkins’ much-publicised mastery of his Police portfolio mean that crime will be a thing of the past once the Police have finished their investigation into the sitting Member.

Ross Robertson, the prolific and internationally-celebrated MP for Manukau East, is parked right next door to Field’s electorate. Robertson’s rapid rise through the Labour Party ranks over the last eighteen years to the dizzying heights of Assistant Speaker in the current Parliament mean that Field’s constituents will get a good hearing in the House.

Further to the North, Mangere’s constituents will have the resources of the admired and formidable Judith Tizard, MP for Auckland Central. Tizard, as the long-standing Minister for the National Archives and the National Library, will serve the reading interests of Mangere’s 18,000 speakers of Samoan and Tongan with aplomb.

Mangere is a General Electorate seat. Only one of the two Maori seats bordering Mangere is held by a Labour MP: Nanaia Mahuta in the Tainui seat is established in Wellington circles for her energy and vitality as a Minister outside Cabinet. Mahuta is also the Minister of Customs. Since Customs offices are often situated in close proximity to immigration offices, Mahuta is well qualified to represent Mangere’s constituents on immigration issues.

Yet no single Labour constituency MP in the area can fully replace Field's ingenuity for novel parliamentary methods. List MP Ann Hartley, although rejected by Northcote voters, is a one-time manager of the Child Abuse Prevention Society. She will be able to put her theories to good test, and eliminate child abuse from the Mangere electorate over the next six months.

Finally, List MP Darien Fenton, the especially telegenic former Vice President of the CTU, lives in the electorate. Fenton worked closely with Field in the Service Workers' Union, where they were organisers together. Fenton will be able to demonstrate a similar degree of compassion and concern for Mangere's least fortunate citizens as Field has managed over the last nine years.

Voters in Mangere can rest assured that for the next six months, their parliamentary interests are well-served by Labour’s Auckland team.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A La Recherche du Temps Urdu (In Remembrance of Things Urdu)

Cricket is a mystical game. It has its own traditions, culture, and history, which cannot be explained to the layperson. As for the rules of play, they are as ancient and as numinous as the cricket Gods themselves.

How possibly could a North American begin to comprehend the hallowed willow: that unforgiving mini-beast that requires loving application of linseed, and gently knocked in, so that it will last for just twenty-two matches, of which half will be rained out? How to enlighten the non-cricketer on the importance of the knocking-mallet: that if the willow hasn’t been treated before it strikes leather, the bat will shatter; that if knocked too heavily, the instrument will lose its spring and be forever dull and useless?

I have played a lot of cricket. At any one time, I would have three bats, each knocked to different degrees, which I would use depending on the playing conditions and my attitude to the game at hand. Each bat would last three seasons. They only lasted because I rotated them, and treated them and prepared them immaculately pre-season. For a non-cricketer to pick them up, they may have seemed heavy. For me, they were a finely-balanced extension of my left arm, prepared by me. I knew exactly what style of play was necessary for each bat. Nobody else was permitted to even pick them up. For a player to even suggest that was the equivalent of a novice violinist asking Nigel Kennedy to lend him his Stradivarius for practice.

There is one exception to my batting toolkit. It is a Duncan Fearnley Magnum, oversize, which is not a finely-tuned instrument. It is not an extension of my left arm. It is the batting equivalent of a clown shoe. If my Slazenger V800 was a high precision rifle with a laser-guided scope, then my Magnum is a daisy-cutter. If any other batsman can pick it up, let alone apply the back-lift when a cricket ball is bearing down at ninety miles an hour, they are welcome to do so. I would only ever use it near the end of the innings when I have out-concentrated the bowlers, and started spraying deliveries onto the pitch. As long as I put the bat within a few light years of the ball, the latter would find itself somewhere on the pavilion roof.

Thus cricket is a fanatical game that attracts fanatical people.

Cricket journalism is also a unique art. Because cricket writers have so many hours during a test match to compose their thoughts on a game in which nothing often happens, the quality of their output reaches poetic levels unseen in the mainstream media. Consider this from Amit Varma, two years ago, on a Test match between Australia and India. Varma achieves something that few mainstream journalists manage to convey: to place you inside the thrills and spills of a game that you regret not having watched. Jeremy Clarkson could have been a cricket commentator. Lord Denning, if he hadn’t opted for that oh-so-fleeting of judicial careers, could have done likewise. What Varma shows, in what may seem especially moronic to the non-cricketer, is that the game is even more sublime because there was no result.

After my third game in post-school cricket, I was called to give evidence to a Wellington cricket disciplinary hearing brought against my fellow opener. He had scored a few runs, and played and missed a ball outside his off stump. The ball brushed his pad on the way through to the keeper, and the keeper and the slip cordon appealed for a caught behind. The batsman, as was his habit, ignored the appeal and trudged off to square leg in his psychological preparation for the next delivery. He didn’t see the bowling umpire raise his finger, and was shocked when he heard the fielding team cheer that they had taken his wicket.

It was a bad umpiring decision. The umpire later stated that he didn’t think the batsman had hit the ball, but thought he was walking, so granted the appeal. But what happened in the next few moments was crucial: in the milliseconds of release of frustration at a bad decision, the batsman gave what the umpire called an “evil” look. The player shook his head as he walked past the square-leg umpire, chanting quietly: “No, no, no, NO!” I could just make out what he said.

At the time, it wasn’t clear whether he was saying this to himself, for his own lapse in concentration in snicking the ball, or genuine frustration with the umpire. The player was stood down for six weeks for voicing dissent.

Because cricket is an intensely mental contest played over very long periods of time, cricket journalists are less well-disposed to cover rapidly-changing events over short interludes. The treatment of Darrell Hair in his decision, on the fourth day of the Fourth Test between England and Pakistan, to call off the match, has spread headlines well beyond the cricketing world, but in the process has lacked the critical analysis that makes cricket such an exquisite game.

Law 42 of the Laws of Cricket specifically covers the issue of ball-tampering. A player is allowed to clean the ball and polish it, but not change the condition of the ball. The umpire is the sole judge of whether ball-tampering has occurred, and has various sanctions he can apply. One of those sanctions is awarding five runs to the batting team and changing the ball.

Darrell Hair judged, rightly or wrongly, that the Pakistani team had deliberately changed the condition of the ball, well beyond merely polishing or cleaning it. England was awarded five penalty runs. In the scope of an individual match, that sanction is far less severe than a bad decision on a dismissal.

What happened next strikes at the very heart of the game of cricket, and the bystander struggles to comprehend it without considering the unique personalities of Pakistani captain Inzamam Ul-Huq, and umpire Darrell Hair.

In nearly a hundred and thirty years of international test cricket, only ten players in history have scored more test runs than Inzy. Only nine players in history have scored more test hundreds. As important statistics are in the culture of cricket, that still gives only a poor perspective on Inzy’s greatness.

Much has been written on Inzy’s laziness at the stumps, his lack of fitness, his curious blend of brutality, and paradoxically, his subtlety and lightness of touch as a batsman. A far more telling statistic is one that cannot be measured by immense accumulations of runs and test averages. That is that of even the greatest players in the modern game, Inzy is practically unrivalled in his capacity to turn good deliveries into average ones, and average deliveries into poor ones.

Inzy, like Sachin and Adam Gilcrist, are virtually impossible to bowl to. Their creative genius is such that even the finest masters of consistent rhythm and swing will find balls on a good line, and a good length, dispatched to the boundary. They do so not through sheer fluke, but all the time. This trio has a capacity to regularly manufacture shots that should not even exist within human capability.

Some will say that they simply see the ball much earlier than their peers. Others will suggest that they have much faster reaction times. But they will all be wrong. The reason that Inzy is so great as a batsman is the same reason Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong are so phenomenal. They quite simply defy the laws of physics.

Secondly, Pakistan and the subcontinent in general, do not share the same values around the Spirit of The Game. This is a culture clash of seismic proportions in world cricket. It is why the Board of Control for Cricket in India sets the world tour programme. It is why Shoaib Akhtar is allowed to bowl with a “hyper-extensive arm”, rather than simply “chucking”. It is why Sachin Tendulkar carries demi-God status. Cricket is a religion in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh. It is because of their faith that they are prepared to cheat at all costs to win.

So when Inzy instructed the Pakistani cricket team to remain in the dressing room in protest at Darrell Hair’s ball-tampering decision, rather than resuming play, Inzy was issuing a direct challenge to the Spirit of Cricket that governs the responsibility of cricket captains, the requirement for fair play, and general player conduct. As unparalleled as Inzy is as a player, he assumed the power to undermine the most important cricket law of all: the supremacy of the umpire.

That is no small challenge on Inzy’s part. It is effectively the worst possible act that can be committed by a cricket captain. If the disgraceful underarm bowling incident 1981 sparked a re-emphasis on fair play, then Inzy’s action should not go unpunished. He was not merely pushing the boundaries of interpretation of cricket rules. He was drawing a big red line through the rule book.

There is no sanction available for Inzy’s decision not to take the field. The reason there is no sanction is because the idea is so incomprehensible to the spirit of cricket that nobody thought of creating a sanction for it.

Until, that is, Darrell Hair was faced with the prospect of inventing a new sanction that does not exist in the rules. Given the extent of Inzy’s offence, ending play and awarding the match to England was proportionate. In addition, Inzy should have been hung, drawn and quartered by the ICC.

The subsequent actions by sub-continental commentators and cricketers, to make the issue about evidence of ball-tampering, rather than Inzy’s behaviour, deliberately miss the point. In fact, they attempt to divert attention from Inzy's assault on the rules of cricket.

Darrell Hair’s decision to award five runs to England was allowed for in the rules. Even if wrong, that was his decision. It was a legitimate decision for him to make.

Yet instead of cooling down and accepting punishment for his refusal to take the field, Inzy came out all-guns blazing after the Fourth test. Pakistan threatened to boycott further one-dayers in England if Inzy was found guilty of ball-tampering. Again, the issue wasn’t whether he changed the condition of the ball: it was his refusal to accept Hair’s instruction to take the field. The following day, India sided with Pakistan, announcing they would join other sub-continent nations in refusing to play in a game that Hair officiated in.

Realistically, that slashed Hair’s potential umpiring commitments in half. He could not umpire in games involving Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, or his own country of Australia. That confined Hair's umpiring commitments to test matches between New Zealand, South Africa, England and the West Indies. It was an untenable position for Hair. He had faced an impossible, unprecedented scenario in the Fourth Test, and made use of the only sanction he thought available to him, and half of world cricket was ganging up on him. There was no way he could reasonably continue as a member of cricket’s elite umpiring panel.

That confluence of events led to Hair suggesting his resignation, on condition of a private settlement with ICC taking into account Hair’s potential earnings as a professional umpire over the next few years. It was an invitation for the ICC to make him redundant, given that the sub-continent had pre-empted his redundancy. That request was no different to a senior executive resigning from a board due to circumstances that make their jobs untenable.

So what did Malcolm Speed, ICC Chief Executive do in return? He leaked Hair’s offer, putting him out to dry. In one of the most disgraceful acts in the history of cricket administration, Speed shifted focus away from Inzy’s misconduct, as an easy way of getting rid of burying the issue of sub-continental rewriting of the spirit of cricket.

Thank you, Malcolm Speed. You have answered the key question facing world cricket today. You have given us certainty. In the process, you have knifed your own country-man. Ball-tampering, chucking, threats to withdraw tours when a player doesn’t get his way, and disrespecting umpires on the field, have all been legitimized by your conduct towards Hair.

Thanks to Inzamam Ul-Haq, and Speed’s effective endorsement of his behaviour by assassinating Hair, the Spirit of Cricket no longer exists.

Friday, August 25, 2006

RIP: Peter Dunne (1954-2006)

Peter Dunne was a pragmatic and decent guy. Always a little pompous, fronting a one-man party for so many years, if you could look past the preposterous things he would do with his hair, you knew he was generally moving in the right direction. He believed in the fundamentals of an open, prosperous economy. He supported the Reserve Bank Act, the Public Finance Act, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and the principles of open government and clean democracy.

Economically, Dunne was always pretty dry. He left the Labour Party in 1994 because it become a little too dominated by pinkos and liberals, and was constantly apologizing for any of the works of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble. When Dunne left Labour, it looked as if Labour would even rescind the key tenets of orthodox economics. Dunne couldn’t quite bring himself to join the National Party, but by 1996, for all intents and purposes, he was one of us.

Hence in 1996, National made him a Cabinet Minister, and chose not to stand a candidate against him in Ohariu-Belmont. Dunne won the seat in a landslide, and National pulled its second highest party vote in the country in that seat. This confirmed, he was one of us.

Peter Dunne being Peter Dunne, he spat the dummy in 1996 when Winston beat him to the chase for a ministerial seat. Dunne seethed and writhed and got very cranky. For many of us in the National Party who didn’t like Winston, we kinda agreed with him. He was still one of us.

Even in 1999, when Peter Dunne supported the Labour Government, many of us saw his point. Labour hadn’t changed back the clock of history between 1999-2002; it had acted reasonably competently, wasn’t by that stage accumulating massive surpluses or wasting too much money, and didn’t seem to be doing too much harm. Labour didn’t need Dunne’s support in 1999; if he could get a few baubles flung his way, then good on him. He was still almost one of us.

Peter Dunne was always somebody with principle and integrity. He strove to do what he thought was best. He was never lily-white, but as politicians go, he was a nice enough bloke. Sensible was his mantra. It was never a particularly sexy idea, but in a vacuum of political ideas, it won the worm in 2002. Fuming and blustering like a spoilt child when he didn’t get his way, he could be. But most of the time, reasonable.

In the annals of New Zealand political history, Peter Dunne’s chapter will not be very prominent. He was never a flash-in-the-pan; more of a slowly-simmering custard about to curdle if placed under too much heat. Worked well with something more substantial. Dependable, if cooked under the right conditions.

So it is, after twenty-two years of almost-distinguished parliamentary life, that we can stop and give thanks to the political career of Peter Dunne. Peter, wherever you are, buddy, you didn’t achieve much, but you meant well.

Because, dear reader, now that Peter Dunne has become just another lame apologist for Helen Clark’s corrupt and outlandish junta, he has gone full circle. He has tattooed himself to Helen Clark’s breast, always to be associated with her sleaze and contempt for the taxpayer. For a Labour Minister of Revenue, that would be dishonourable. To be propping up a disgraced Prime Minister who will do anything to retain power--even buy an election, and an ailing Finance Minister, is the ultimate act of self-immolation. In Peter Dunne, the one man who has staked his political career on his independence and ability to walk when things get a little too shabby, that is unforgiveable.

Rest in Peace, Peter Dunne. Your political career is over.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Labour Won't Pay It Back

The Auditor-General’s report into unlawful spending of parliamentary services funding is not restricted to Labour’s use of the pledge card. The A-G identified widespread use by Labour and other members of parliamentary services funding for electioneering purposes—the bill for Labour alone is well over a million dollars. The Greens, Act, United Future, and NZFirst are all in the hole as well. National got off relatively lightly—ten grand was very, very small by comparison.

We haven’t yet seen the A-G’s report. It’s the report that the Prime Minister doesn’t want the public to see. Why? Because it discloses that Labour’s misuse of taxpayer funds during the last campaign is more than twice the cost of the pledge card.

It’s a separate legal point as to whether the Auditor-General is even required to publish its report. Scrutiny of Parliamentary Services is not covered by the Official Information Act. Labour and other Parties could block to stall the release of the report as long as possible, if at all.

It does give a lie to Labour’s current spin that nobody knew the rules. Every party knew the rules around applying parliamentary services funding for electioneering purposes. In the final three weeks of the campaign, Labour was desperate. It was trailing in the polls, and prepared to play dirty for the sake of buying office. It had no money left of its own that it could legally spend. So its answer? To bring in the unions to spend up large on Labour’s behalf. Its second solution? To bully Parliamentary Services to allow it to use parliamentary services funding for electioneering, in the clear expectation that nobody would notice it after the fact.

No party is lily-white in the application of parliamentary services funding for electioneering. National slipped up to the tune of ten grand. In the mayhem and chaos of an election campaign, it is perhaps conceivable that in the last ninety days, individual MPs of a political party might send communication to voters which constitutes electioneering during their normal duties. It is conceivable that the value of that communication might be $20,000. In the Nat's case, their misspend was $10,000, which they have repaid.

If the rules (which the Labour Party set after the previous election) were so unclear, how is it that one party in particular mis-used its funding to such a preposterous degree, and National did not?

The short answer is that Labour expected to spend its funding for parliamentary services, entirely for electioneering purposes, with impunity.

The longer answer is that Labour spent more than half a million dollars more on electioneering, using parliamentary services funding, over and above the cost of the pledge card. That constitutes a cynical and deliberate attempt to rort the taxpayer to pay for its own campaign. The Labour Party’s premise was that if it was going to lose the last election, it might as well go out with a bang. No reasonable, objective opinion—and the opinions of the Auditor-General, the Solicitor-General, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Secretary of Justice are generally pretty reasonable and objective—could see it otherwise. Labour abused its parliamentary services funding, in a concerted effort to win the campaign. That, dear reader, is the very definition of corruption.

Why are smaller parties so keen to protect Labour over this? Partly because they will support Labour at any cost. They don't want an election. They don't have the campaigning funds to fight another one, and they know they're dog-tucker even if they had the funding. Partly also because they don’t have funds of their own to repay what they misspent during the campaign. Partly because Labour has dangled the carrot of public funding of their parties for them. That’s a red-herring in terms of Labour’s culpability in the last election, but a critical bribe for smaller parties, for whom lack of fundraising is one of their major organisational problems. Smaller parties are even less able to reimburse Parliamentary Services for its misallocation than Labour is for its mammoth $1 million sham.

There are moments in a government's lifetime that signal its irreversible decline. I can well recall some of the unfortunate activities and decisions of some National ministers in the last two years of Government that suggested that power had gone to their heads. They pissed voters off. That arrogance directly contributed to the voter-shock that the Nats experienced in 1999 and 2002.

But for all its failings in its dying years, the Bolger-Shipley transition from 1996-1999 was not corrupt or venal. They did not feather their own nests. They actually believed that they were making a positive contribution. They made mistakes driven by arrogance.

If Helen Clark was more focussed on staying in touch with her voters, and Cullen not unwell at present, then neither of them would have allowed this tragic situation to exist. Labour have set a new standard for third-term governments, with unrivalled arrogance, hypocrisy, sleaze, filth, self-serving corruption, and absolute contempt for taxpayer and voter alike.

Voters have become used to the Judith Tizard factor in politics: somebody so loony, so contemptuous of the voters who elect her, so distant from reality that she will spout of any old nonsense as a justification for her government's actions. For such acts of inadvertent self-ridicule, Helen Clark rewards her with all the baubles of Ministry. In isolation, she is easy to ignore. Yet what the misuse of parliamentary services funding has shown is that the entire Labour Party has remodelled themselves in Judith Tizard's image. Collectively, by not repaying the money back, by attempting to "validate" their unlawful actions, by buying smaller party support and spinning the discussion into "democracy funding", we now have a Labour caucus full of Judith Tizards. It is a Government that has set itself up for inadvertent self-ridicule every day that it continues to exist in defiance of normal standards of political behaviour.

Voters no longer believe in Helen Clark or the Labour Party. And they've brought it all upon themselves.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fears and Loathings

My friend just bought a puppy. Ever since I heard that he bought that dog, I’ve been terrified that the dog might develop psychological problems and get larger and bite the postman.

Another friend recently stole a small goat, and placed it among his sheep. I lie awake at night fearful that the goat will think it’s a sheep, and start fucking the other sheep. Even worse, I fear that the goat, being a satanic symbol, may well be Lucifer’s spawn, and impregnate a whole new breed of evil goat-sheep.

Another friend just bought a new fridge. Studies have shown that cannibals are most likely to store human remains in old fridges, rather than new fridges. My friend has not told me what he has done with his old fridge, so I now assume that I am next on his list of people to chop up and boil on his NEW STOVE!

Yes, people. These are genuine fears.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Big Smack-Down

Watch the pinko liberals come out again and raise the canard of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, linking it to the deaths of innocent children.

As one commie wag claims, “physical violence is a continuum”; that a smack is half-way to a punch, that a punch is half-way to a beating, and that a beating is half-way to death of a child.

Interesting theory from the childless few who pontificate about child-rearing of the masses. In their happy-clappy world, rugby, boxing, and martial arts would be outlawed, as being just a little bit too mean. Violence in movies should be banned, too. People can’t control their ideas, see. They aren’t capable of distinguishing right and wrong. If I see Arnie machine-gunning a tribe of bad guys, I will feel justified in going out and buying the biggest Stinger that a Russian black-market can afford.

But it’s a view that is deeply divorced from reality. Children don’t die when a parent gives an hysterical child a quick smack. I wasn’t seriously harmed when a cranky teacher threw me in a gorse bush. Even Jeremy Clarkson, that bastion of English civility, wasn’t damaged when he was hit in the face by a lemon pie.

There are degrees of violence. Some of them are so minor that to make an issue of them makes the recipient seem like a pansy. Case in point: I am frequently slapped in the face by chicks. Often by fat chicks. I’m not sure why this seems to happen so often, but what kind of wowser would I be to call the police and make a formal complaint? Other times, physical violence is downright entertaining. Recently, I was outside a bar when a guy slapped me. I was fairly surprised by this, so I say to him, as he’s about to run off: “Why are you slapping me like a girl? That’s not even a girl-slap! Come back and do it properly!” But he’d run off by then, and I couldn’t contain myself from the comedy of the situation.

Other times physical violence is reasonable or necessary in the circumstances. Jerry Collins on the rugby field is such a star because when he makes a tackle, the other player takes so much longer to get up afterwards. Jerry is superb to watch. When he’s drunk himself senseless after a game, he’s fairly intimidating, and it’s not wise to stand near him, but on the pitch he’s simply awesome.

Yet those situations are a long way removed from a serious physical beating against a child.

One young child I know frequently gets smacked. It is the discipline of first resort to his parents. I have observed that the child is generally very badly behaved. This frustrates his parents no end. They have never given the child a real beating. It doesn’t take somebody of supreme intelligence to conclude that smacking that child so frequently destroys any shock value in an occasional smack. Is that child in danger of being hit so hard that he suffers serious injury? Of course not. Should his parents consider other forms of discipline that are more effective? Absolutely.

Smacking children is not bad because it may lead to long-term physical harm. It’s not even bad. It is simply neutral, if applied too often. A child learns to put up with the sudden pain. The shock value disappears. When I was a child, had I been given the choice of receiving the wooden spoon or being deprived of the morning cartoons for a week when I misbehaved, I would have taken the wooden spoon every time, knowing that it’s much easier, as a child, to get punishment over with quickly, than to have to face the consequences of my behaviour.

There is a degree of obsessiveness from both sides of the smacking debate: those who ludicrously proclaim that smacking is the only form of discipline that works (when it clearly isn’t), and from the liberals that smacking leads to the deaths of children (when it clearly doesn’t).

Parents need to be empowered with choices. They need to take responsibility for raising their children. They need to have discretion as to how they exercise discipline, and choose the ones that work.

Smacking a child does not denote that a parent wishes to harm a child. If used very rarely, the shock value alone can be useful. But it isn’t a particularly effective tool, especially when used repeatedly. Most parents who take responsibility for their children’s upbringing come to this view, without the interference of a nanny-state imposing ideological positions on parenting.

The occasional smackers are not the cause of society’s social ills. They are a little misdirected, and in most cases probably realise when they have given their children a smack, that they have done so out of their own anger, rather than an intention to correct a child’s behaviour, and feel guilty for not being able to control their own frustration. They certainly don’t need do-gooding politicians telling them they are criminal as well.

What is far more criminal is a social system that encourages a certain group in society to have children that they cannot afford to feed, house, or clothe. Any welfare system that rewards those who cannot take responsibility for themselves to pretend to take responsibility for helpless children, will lead to major social dysfunction.

It is no coincidence that almost all of the young children who have been murdered by caregivers have grown up in dysfunctional homes. The prevalence of welfare, poverty, crime, substance abuse, and poor health is a much greater indicator of serious harm against children than any specific, albeit slightly misguided child-discipline techniques by otherwise lawful middle-class.

So if the Labour Government cares for the safety of children, they will discourage, rather than reward, people to have children that they cannot afford to raise.