Joe Hendren

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

National MP runs down protester with a motor vehicle

:John Hayes the National MP for Wairapara thinks it ok to use a motor vehicle to run a local man off the road. (Hat tip newzblog)

"Local activist James Sleep was today exercising his democratic right to protest when he was approached by an entourage of 4WDs carrying Wairapara MP John Hayes and John Key. Sleep attempted to get out of the way however he soon found himself being propelled backwards by the force of Hayes’ car. The car continued to accelerate for 20 metres until bystanders forced him to stop. Sleep described the incident as frightening and thought he was going to be run over. When the car stopped Sleep was aggressively tackled onto the ground by a male escorting Hayes."

Sleep has laid complaints of assault and careless driving with the police. Good on him. James has written about the incident here.

Perhaps it is relevant to quote the contribution of John Hayes to the debate over the section 59 bill.

"...Labour camp and in the Greens, is undermining the social fabric of our country. They are passing this bill on the back of having undermined every teacher and every policeman in this country. Two weeks ago, at the Golden Shears in Masterton, a couple of young kids were sitting on the bonnet of a car, causing trouble and abusing old people. Someone said to them: “Listen, boys. Naff off!” It was not me doing the telling; I witnessed this. “You can’t tell us that, mister. You can’t do that,” the boys said. The guy said he was going to get the police. “They can’t do anything either,” he was told. That is why we have so many children out of control in Masterton and elsewhere in the small towns of the Wairarapa. It is because this Labour Government has pulled the rug of authority from every institution in this country, whether schoolteachers, police officers, or, now, parents."

Clearly Hayes believes he should use the bonnet of his car to maintain the 'rug of authority'. Isn't it an irony how many times those that bemoan the breakdown the the rule of law often find themselves on the wrong side of it?

Worse of all, National leader John Key appeared to endorse the actions of his blunderbus MP by attempting to make jokes about the incident. "Mr Key said he would like to borrow the protester to take home, as he made a lot of noise and could be used in the early morning and on dusk to scare ducks from landing on his pool.". If Key endorses running down protesters with motor vehicles, perhaps he could ask Hayes and his 4x4 to come and shoo the ducks away for him?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mullings on pay equity

During the Inagural Suffrage Eve Debate I will be particularly interested in the debate over approaches to employment law.

In 2004 Dr Judy McGregor from the Human Rights Commission wrote an interesting submission on the proposed Employment Relations Law Reform Bill
"While there is not a consensus, most commentators, including the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, believe that New Zealand has not complied with its international obligations in relation to pay equity since 1990 when the short-lived Employment Equity Act (1990) was repealed. This omission is one element in the comprehensive legislative and policy framework needed to give effect to pay and employment equity. "

The Employment Equity Act, championed by Helen Clark, only had a short life. The removal of awards under the Employment Contracts Act effectively invalidated any positive impact the legislation may have had. Jobs that were traditionally dominated by female workers continue to be paid less than comparable jobs traditionally dominated by men.

I had a thought that horrified me a little today. Without going and ferreting out the figures, I would not be surprised if the significant increases in the minimum wage since 1999 have had a small positive impact on pay equity, as the lower wage bands flattened out to the new minimum. So to measure progress towards pay equity issue by itself, and to see the wonderous 'market' [cough][cough] at work it would make sense to exclude all minimum wages from the comparison. Not that I am immediately sure how to achieve this of course :)

In 2007 female full-time workers earned 14% less than men. The gender pay gap was 13% in the 2006 survey, and 16% in 2005.

This entails that if progress towards pay equity is to be achieved, we need to see greater progress further up the income scale. Given that the gender pay gap has now been with us for as long as women have been working, I doubt its going to be sorted by employers and employees negotiating among themselves. Pay equity will only be achieved as part of a more structured approach to employment relations, involving specific pay equity enabling legislation, ongoing research and a culture more conducive to collective bargaining.

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The Hand Mirror host a debate tomorrow

WHAT: The Inaugural Suffrage Eve Debate, featuring women standing for Parliament, political discussion, and cupcakes
WHEN: Thursday 18th September, 7.30pm
WHERE: Lecture Theatre ENG3402, School of Engineering, University of Auckland, 20 Symonds St
WHO: Four female candidates discussing whether centre-left or centre-right approaches are better for women, one each from Labour, National, Act and the Alliance (see below for more info), and organised by the bloggers at The Hand Mirror, with the graceful assistance of AUSA.

Speaking to the proposition "That Eve Should Vote Centre-Left":
- Anjum Rahman, Labour list candidate and blogger
- Sarita Divis, Alliance candidate for Auckland Central

Speaking to the proposition "That Eve should vote centre-right":
- Nikki Kaye, National candidate for Auckland Central
- Lyn Murphy, Act list candidate

For those on facebook the event details are also here. The Hand Mirror also have a facebook group for the Readers and Writers of the Hand Mirror.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Disappointing TV3 coverage of the Winniebox inquiry

Rather disappointed with TV3 coverage of the Peters issue tonight. Despite promising extended coverage of Winston's appearance before the privileges committee many times throughout the 6pm news bulletin, with a hint of going until 8pm, coverage was curtailed half an hour early.

Worse of all, they missed the question time.

I suspect a TV3 network executive screamed at people 'This is boring, get it off!'. But were TV3 really expecting Peters to be anything but an arrogant, overly legalistic pompous a***? Did they really expect him to come up with significant evidence in his defense, other than 'I will tell you tomorrow?' Surely if he had evidence he would have used it by now? While some journalists attempted to build up the hype by claiming there was a small chance Peters would stun the select committee into finding his innocence, given the way most have behaved over this issue I doubt this outcome was expected either.

In their appearances before the select committee both Winston Foreign Minister Peters, and Owen I have a university building named after me Glenn have made it clear they think the world of themselves. For those who do not follow the precise details of who said what to whom, when and where, I suspect the overall impression of this week will be the clash of two over sized egos. People will also remember Winston getting the sack after being evasive with the truth.

Apparently Helen Clark also watched the hearing on TV3 - I can't imagine she was impressed with the coverage or her foreign minister.

Helen Clark is widely expected to remove Peter's ministerial warrant tomorrow. In some forms of coalition government one option may have been to appoint another NZ First MP to act as foreign minister, maintaining the current balance between the parties. I think it says a lot about NZ First that they do not have another MP who could credibly take over Winston's portfolios, even for a few short weeks. Former minister Brian Donnelly would have been the only one worth even considering, but he left to become High Commissioner to the Cook Islands in February 2008. Sadly Donnelly had to resign his position of High Commissioner in August due to ill health. There may be a few in NZ First - assuming there are people who look beyond the Winston personality cult - quietly wishing Brian was still in Parliament. As it has turned out, Brian could not have timed his exit better.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Does National party strategy come from the CityRats?

Chris Trotter poses an interesting question. Did the success of the Citizens and Ratepayers Campaign in the last Auckland local body elections provide a 'dry run' for the general election campaign of National led by John Key? Is the same strategy at work?

"Like Banksie, Key is promising that he and his followers have changed. That they’re no longer the flinty-faced mob they used to be under Don Brash. Oh dear me no, they have turned over a new leaf, and become kinder, gentler tories: National-Lite. Also, like Banksie and his C&R strategists, the Nats are relying on the voters’ rapidly waning affection for the incumbent left-wing adminstration to carry them into power without having to first undergo too much in the way of intense media scrutiny.

Could this explain the Opposition’s extreme reluctance to talk about too much policy detail? In case somebody ends up disagreeing - i.e. attracting attention and making news? Is Key hoping to take down Helen Clark’s government in the same way that Banksie took down Dick Hubbard’s - by default?"

Trotter believes the Left opened the way for the CityRats to win in an environment where there was little public scrutiny of their ideas or what they stood for. I largely agree with Trotter's analysis here. I would also note that a compliant media was also a factor.

This suggests a Labour party general election campaign based around 'keeping National out' is less likely to succeed than a campaign based on big ideas (like interest free student loans). Announcing progressive policy is more likely to force the Nats to talk about policy in a way they wish to avoid. Act's Roger Douglas may have this effect too. Labour would not need to run the negative message, as National and Act will scare the horses all by themselves, just like Maurice Williamson did with his $50 a week estimate of road tolls.

I posted the following as a comment in response to Chris' post - I thought I might as well note it here too.

Another related issue is the failure of the centre-left/left to come up with a credible electable candidate for the Auckland Mayoralty for as long as I can remember. While Hubbard won in 2004, he ran a dreadful campaign in 2007. Hubbard’s politics are centrist at best - I am sure many voted for him because he was on the left of Banks, which is not saying much. In 2001 there was the fracas created by the Labour wing of City Vision endorsing a failed National party cabinet minister who also ran a dreadful campaign, and lost badly.

Could we please have a centre-left candidate at the next mayoral elections who people of the left actually want to vote for? A candidate who can generate some enthusiasm around local body issues and encourages a greater turnout?

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Will Peters survive the election?

With the political career of Winston Peters now hanging by a thread, many are asking whether NZ First will survive this election. Yet in NZ First's case I believe a focus on the chance of the party regaining 5% or more of the party vote underestimates the regional nature of NZ First support.

Last month a poll showed Winston Peters 20% behind National candidate Simon Bridges for the Tauranga electorate. It is likely that Tauranga is now Bridges to lose, and Peters has no chance of regaining his old seat. That said, with NZ First running at around 3% in polls at the time most political pundits gave Peters a chance of making a comeback given Winston's fearsome campaigning skills. The same poll had NZ First on 6% support in the party vote contest - under half the 13.3% party vote percentage gained in Tauranga in 2005.

Shifting the focus entirely onto the national party vote misses something important about the nature of NZ First's support base - it has long had strong regional characteristics. This means the standings of candidates in electorate races in their previous area of strength will have a stronger correlation with their likely party vote than a party with support spread relatively evenly throughout New Zealand.

In a blog post prior to the 2005 election, I looked at NZ First's support base, making use of a useful post by Poster Child* that listed the top 10 electorates by party vote for each party. I summarised the situation based on the 2002 results:

NZ First support appears to be focused around the top of the North Island. In fact, most of these electorates are right next to each other - the Peters disease must be airborne! From Northland to the North, to Taranaki-King Country and Rotorua in the south, an iron passes over an Italian suit, and people fall for it. Thankfully, Auckland city appears to have greater immunity.

I thought it would be interesting to repeat the exercise using the 2005 results. Once again I was spared from having to trawl through all the election results thanks to DPFs election summary from 2005.

Using a map showing electorate boundaries from the Electoral Commission, I shaded in NZ First top 15 electorates in terms of the party vote. NZ First top electorate of Tauranga (then Bay of Plenty) is black, with lightening shades of grey used to illustrate lower levels of support. I can't say the shades of grey used have a scientific relationship to the levels of party vote - the graphic only aims to be indicative.

While Te Tai Tokerau was NZ First's 12th top electorate, I didn't include it as layered shading would have looked confusing - the outline of Te Tai Tokerau is roughly similar to that of Northland in any case.

Once again, the pattern is similar to 2002 with most of the the dark grey electorates surrounding Tauranga. A Winston bomb with a prevailing wind, with Auckland in a fallout shelter.

This suggests that polling in individual electorates, for both the party and the electorate vote is going to be more significant for NZ First than other parties. The survival of NZ First could well be determined by the levels of support in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, Northland and Coromandel.

Some may wonder why I am so hard on Winston when we both have sceptical views towards the neo-liberal free trade agenda and the current Reserve Bank Act. Quite simply because NZ First possess limited credibility to be an effective advocate on these issues. While Peters may have campaigned on the left in 1996, he was a neo-liberal poodle as Treasurer between 1996 and 1998 - the supposed walkout over Wellington airport may have been an attempt to cover this up. While Peters may be right to strongly criticise Max Bradford's electricity reforms in 2008 - the fact is that NZ First joined National to vote in favour of these changes in 1998.

At the same time Peters was criticising big business, it has been revealed that he was taking large donations from Bob Jones. NZ First opposition to state funding of political parties now makes sense. As Murray Horton says Winston may talk the talk, but he fails to walk the walk.

So I hope NZ First is dog tucker this election. I hope for some political renewal where other parties take up issues such as fair trade and reform of monetary policy, and leave all the wink wink Asian bashing and public harassment of legitimate refugees such as Ahmed Zaoui in the political wilderness where they belong.

NZ First 2005 Top 15 Electorates by Party Vote Percentage
  1. Tauranga 13.3%
  2. Bay of Plenty 12.0%
  3. Northland 10.2%
  4. Coromandel 10.1%
  5. Rotorua 9.2%
  6. Whangarei 9.0%
  7. Wairarapa 8.9%
  8. Piako 8.9%
  9. Port Waikato 8.4%
  10. Rodney 8.1%
  11. Taranaki-King Country 8.1%
  12. Te Tai Tokerau 7.9%
  13. Taupo 7.8%
  14. Hamilton West 7.5%
  15. Rangitikei 7.4%

* A blog that is no longer with us - I wish Poster Child was still with us Bren, if you have started another blog in another guise please say hi :)

PS: DPF I could not find the link to your analysis - if there is one I am happy to add it.
PPS: For some reason blogger made this post before I had finished writing it. I am sure I only clicked 'save as draft' but found it had been published this morning. Be interested to know if anyone else has had similar issues with blogger. If the post seemed to be incomplete earlier - it was!

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