Joe Hendren

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Brash is gone, well done Nicky

Pleased to see Don Brash resign - even if only half the allegations in Nicky Hagar's book are true he is simply not the kind of person most New Zealanders would want to see running the country.
Perhaps National party President Judy Kirk secretly agrees - it was interesting her press release said she 'supported and respected' Brash' decision to resign. Under normal circumstances one would expect the word 'regret' to be used - but it wasn't. And being 'thanked for your contribution' can act as a euphemism for being fired.

In seeking an injunction in an attempt to prevent his emails being published Brash may as well have picked up a megaphone and shouted 'I have something to hide'.

The fall of Don Brash is a significant setback for the new right in New Zealand. They appear to know they will never be popular enough to be openly elected to implement their policies, so they rely on portraying a reassuring and misleading image of themselves (Labour in 1984, Bolger's 'decent society' in 1990), only to invent an economic crisis after the election and implement the policies they wanted all along.

I must say I find some of the reaction to Hagar's book from the Labour party more than a little opportunistic. Labour spilt a lot of venom at Hagar for his previous book 'Seeds of Distrust', yet because they believe the conclusions of the Hollow Men may suit their political interests some within Labour are heralding the book before they have even read it.

If Hagar ever decided to write a second volume of the Hollow Men I am sure he could find some links between the corporates and the Labour Party Helen and Co would prefer to stay hidden. That said I would expect such a book on the Labour party to be significantly shorter than Hagar's book on National - while the forth Labour government were disgracefully dishonest I doubt the current lot are as bad - or as cynical as Nicky seems to think National have been under Don Brash.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

National's solution to GST overspend cynical politics at its worst

While National managed to get all sanctimonious about Labour election overspending, they also spent more than they were allowed to in terms of buying broadcasting time, by oh so conveniently "forgetting" the legal limit was exclusive of GST.

The timing of National's announcement of its so called 'solution' to this 'problem' ought to be regarded as extremely cynical indeed. The day after it was revealed Nicky Hagar's book on the National party was being prevented from being released by Don's dodgy injunction.

The timing of National's announcement works on the same principle as the rather infamous Blairite spin monkey who suggested on the 11th of September 2001 this would be a good day to bury bad news.

Offering to buy advertising time for charities is not a solution. First of all the broadcasters are still left out of pocket because National are only offering to pay for new advertising, leaving the election advertising unpaid.

The National party should pay the TV stations what they are owed, plus interest (as they have made it clear they do not believe in interest free loans), and face the consequences of their actions. They have already broken the law, an action they benefited from in terms of greater election time exposure - they should stop looking to get off and instead do what they told to do Labour many times - Pay it back!

Or are we to assume the Nats typical blathering about the 'sanctity of contract' really ought only to apply to everybody else?

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Auckland's new stadium should be closer to the water

All the endless chatter about the proposal to build a stadium on the Auckland waterfront seems to go on and on.

Thinking about the concept of a waterfront stadium reminds me of something the Roman's used to do with their Colosseum in the early days. Flood the arena and stage mock sea battles!

So how about some yacht races in the new stadium? Now would this not be perfect for the self styled "City of Sails"? KZ7 wouldn't get very far, but some of the smaller Olympic style yachts could easily do a few circuts.

Now lots of water would be a bad for the cricket pitch, as no covers can handle thousands of litres. Yet if this meant an end to dual use stadiums something could be done to improve the standard of the Auckland test cricket pitch. I can remember far too many test matches at Eden Park over the past few years that have been badly affected by a rubbishy slow scoring pitch.

And when we get sick of the rugby we could just let the water keep coming in, and sink the whole thing quite literally. Or hold submarine races!

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Saddam sentenced to hang

I am disappointed, but not surprised to hear Saddam Hussien has received a death sentence for "crimes against humanity".

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's director of the Middle East and North Africa, called the trial seriously flawed.

"This trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq, and in ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's rule. In practice, it has been a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the tribunal, as currently established, to administer justice fairly, in conformity with international standards."

It is for these sorts of reasons I wish Saddam had been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) instead, along with a few western significant others also to blame for numerous Iraqi deaths. If gassing the Kurds is such a terrible crime (which it is), why not also charge the people who gave Saddam the gas? Unfortunately the citizenship of these alleged criminals would give them refuge in the United States, a country which refuses to recognise the ICC.

It is not that I believe Saddam should not be held to account for human rights violations, but I strongly believe a death sentence in these circumstances will be nothing but counterproductive. Saddam does not deserve to become a matryr - yet he is likely to gain this status when he is gifted a rope.

Saddam could well become a greater challenge to the political stability of Iraq in death than he ever could be in life, especially if the alternative is spending the rest of his life in jail.

Given only the losing side are to be charged for their crimes, this looks very like much like victors justice. In order for a new Government to feel safe, the old leader must die. I am reminded of the decision of the Russian Bolsheviks to shoot the last Czar and his family in July 1918. In giving this order Lenin's administration demonstrated its immediate weakness, not its strength. Perhaps a similar assessment will be made of the scarcely effective Iraqi Government and its support for the death of Saddam. Now the Bolsheviks were able to eventually consolidate their power, but they were in the position of fighting off the invading armies, not depending on said armies for their survival....

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