Joe Hendren

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Draining dividends from Telecom can mean you don't get broadband

While I usually do not relish schadenfreude, I did enjoy reading in today's NZ Herald about poor Jenny Gibbs who cannot get broadband in at her leafy home in Paratai Drive. Who is Jenny Gibbs? She is the former wife of Alan Gibbs - a key player in the privatisation of Telecom in 1990.

In an earlier post I explained how the current parlous state of broadband services in New Zealand can be directly attributable to the sale of Telecom to the private sector. It is not often that you see a member of the new right establishment admit they have been negatively affected by the short sighted nature of their own policies. It usually hits everyone else but them.

Why can't I feel sorry for Jenny Barbara Gibbs? Because it is highly likely she (directly or indirectly) benefited from the high levels of dividends paid out to shareholders of Telecom during the 1990s. If Telecom had paid lower dividends in favour of greater investment in infrastructure, Jenny Gibbs would now be more likely to access broadband in Paratai Drive. The shareholders of Telecom asset stripped the company for their own personal benefit. She split from Alan in 1996, and stayed in the house on Paratai Drive.

Alan Gibbs was on the board of Telecom from 1990 and a director until 1999.

Also, according to the Companies Office, Jenny Gibbs has 120,000 shares (held jointly) in TeamTalk Ltd - a company which Telecom bought a 19.9% stake in 2001. In 2003 the company bought back the Telecom shares (probably with debt) and listed itself on the stock exchange with an IPO the following year, gaining a significant premium. Her holiday home has been used for a Telecom ad - one presumes they paid her for the use of the venue.

So while Jenny Gibbs can't get broadband, she has had many opportunities to directly or indirectly financially benefit from Telecom.

That said, I must congratulate Jenny Gibbs for pointing out the glaring inconsistency between Telecom's promotion of 'super fast broadband' and the service the company actually offers most of its customers. Telecom ought to realise that when their greatest ideological supporters are having trouble believing Telecom corporate propoganda, the general public are likely to see Telecom's claims for what they are - outright lies.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

BBC World Service only leads to Ping Pong

I found something I like about being in Auckland. As I was driving to work today I channel surfed in the hope of finding a decent National Radio FM signal.

To my surprise I came across the BBC World Service on 801 AM - great - I now have a choice between two commercial free newsgeek stations. I stopped listening to commercial radio a long time ago as I find saturation level advertising intrusive and annoying.

Tonight I camped at a pub in Onehunga to watch the cricket. On my way home, just after 11pm I put my radio back on the Beeb and found an interesting technology programme, Digital Planet. Today they looked at the growth of open source software, including discussion of a European Union Commission report that found that in 'almost all' cases long-term (business) costs could e reduced if businesses dropped proprietary software (such as Microslop) in favour of open source solutions. I am sure there is probably some right wing fruit loop somewhere in the world who thinks open source is a front for communism.

They also had a bit of discussion on how bloggers are holding big business to account, which certainly caught my attention :) Sadly I missed some of this item as I was unable to tune my home radio to the same frequency. But on going out to the car I ended up meeting one of my new neighbours who invited me to meet the flat and have a game of ping pong. Great to find the neighbours so friendly

Stella the cat is also very friendly, in fact I met her almost as soon as I arrived here :)

So if my car stereo had not randomly stumbled across BBC World Service this morning, I would not have met the neighbours, making it highly unlikely I would have finished the day with a midnight game of ping pong. Funny how things work out sometimes.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Auckland blogger drinks

Just got back from the Auckland blogger drinks. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect - I welcome debate, but I didn't want to be the only lefty there. I need not have worried.

Blogger drinks turned out to be a lot of fun and far beter than I expected. I admit get bored if I am at a pub and the conversation remains banal for too long - but here were lots of lovely people who appreciated talking about ideas and real stuff - so Joe was happy. I wondered if I came accross as more serious than normal - usually Joe does not need much excuse to be silly :)

As I walked in I attempted to locate the blog drinkies, only to realise I could not recognise anyone. I walked out to make sure it was the right pub before walking back again to the large group down the back. Thanks to Scott and Gooner for idenfitying me as a lost blogger and confirming I had the right place.

Good to put some names to faces, particurly good to finally meet some of the people who have commented on my blog over the past two years or so. While I hate to single people out, it was particularly good to meet Rich, Paul, George Darroch, Pamziewamzie and Jordan - only because I have been reading your writing (on and off) for what seems some time now, so its good to finally meet you.

Also good talking to Sonic about the Scottish Socialist Party. New blogger Ryan from Born on State Highway One had a bit to say - which bodes well for more interesting blog posts! Always good to meet another fan of Bertrand Russell.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New year new city for me

Apologies for lack of transmission over the traditional winter solstice period, I have been busy moving cities. I moved to Auckland over the weekend.

But never fear cantabs - I will attempt to keep an eye on the news down south as the blogsphere is certainly overrepresented by the obsessions of the north. I promise not to make a sudden conversion to supporting the Auckland rugby team, largely because I don't care a great deal about the Canterbury or any other rugby team for that matter. So long as they beat Auckland (joke).

I find it interesting that Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin people say Christchurch is a hard place to navigate as it is too flat. Really its easy - just look at where the port hills are and you have a clear marker of direction. But take a cantab away from those hills and they end up in many a U-turn as they lose their sense of direction. I have taken many many wrong turns in my first few days here.

I am currently staying in Avondale and it certainly has its quirks. I went looking for a pub to get a bite to eat and watch the cricket and none could be found. I enjoyed the irony of finding lots of churches instead. All these institutions aiming to save my soul and all I wanted was the demon drink! I must add I am not a big drinker at all, and this probably coloured my perceptions - I didn't feel the need to feel guilty about looking for a pub. The next day I attempted to buy a bottle of wine with the groceries only to be told the wine needed to be paid for seperately, at another counter - what is it with this suburb and the occasional drink in moderation??

I later found out this is a legacy of Mt Roskill being a 'dry' area for years and years. With this in mind I found myself quitely appreciating Helen Clark for voting against the stupid bill to raise the drinking age last year - given the area she must have had a lot of knee jerk social conservatives to deal with. Good on her for siding with sanity and effective policy over "appearance" medicine.

PS: Happy new year

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