Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

A three week break is only days old, Christmas in the morning, the Boxing Day test to follow. The youngest is more excited about Christmas than any previous year. She is convinced by the Santa-myth, Judeo-Christian or FMCG, and I'm certainly not going to spoil her fun. Family are relaxed, lunch organised, the forecast good. Friends will soon arrive from various parts, some close, others from afar. This feels like the makings of a great Christmas.

I thought about joining a Christmas Mass. Something simple and intended mostly for the kids. Bedtime's been dominated by carols this last few weeks and I need the refresher. Not being a regular church-goer however, I'm not sure where's best. Instead I've spun Lennon's And so this is Christmas a few times. It's long been our family tradition - many others' too.

I miss New Zealand. Russell Brown's mob are twittering about Tui, Kereru, Hot Water Beach, Piha, Te Anau and Pohutukawa. I have such vivid memories of the northern hill side of Mount Victoria, Wellington, drapped in crimson flowers circa 1995/6. More memories of the first Tui starting to venture out from Karori Wildlife centre all the way to Brooklyn in 2000/01 (I think it was the Kowhai that attracted them).

I'd've loved a lengthy trip away, even just down the South Coast but we left it too late. Day trips and possibly a weekend will suffice and Sydney without traffic has plenty to offer.

I'll avoid the usual round-ups, I might do a sort of summary in the new year. In the meantime, I wish all a great Christmas. A safe Christmas. A break that rejuvenates you and permits relief from your watch, your emails, meetings and deadlines. The occassion of a new year means less and less except for that break in between and the chance to relax with family - even those not so near.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

History is written by the victors

The tide has turned in almost every economy, NZ's perhaps more so because of its dependence on a narrow range of commodity exports and its small domestic economy. The reversal will not wipe away the gains of the last decade, but employment, trade and overall productivity are in decline as has been thoroughly commented on. Does this, however, justify the broad claims made in the Speech from the Throne? That the last decade was merely a wasted opportunity? Clearly not, the rhetoric is overblown, particularly for regally-endorsed speech. Nevertheless, Key's win gives him the right to script such events just like Clark's did in '99, 2002 and '05 (however I'd argue none of Clark's speeches included commentary comparable with Key's, not even the '99 speech).

It's a bit pointless to rate Key's speech. Save for the significant ommission of plans to urgently remove protections from an estimated 100,000 workers, it contains no real surprises. The focus is predictably on first stablising the economy then growing it. Laudable goals, almost apolitical absent the details. What specific plans the speech does contain are really no more detailed than the various pre-election announcements; for this reason alone I think it's a poor effort.

The policy prescription outlined is as othordox as it could be - perhaps too much so for ACT. Reducing personal tax rates, investing in infrastructure development, deregulation (particularly in Industrial Relations and resource management) and various vague trade goals. I note the absence of any mention of migration - what ever happened to John's ambitious plans to bring kiwis home? Silent.

Paul Keating famously observed (circa 1996) that when you change the government, you change the country. By the end of the year, this will at least be true for 100,000 workers. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crowdies play Sydney

Having initially missed out on tickets for Crowded House's gig in Sydney, I was pleased to pick some up on Ebay at only a small premium on the face-value. I'm now clutching two tickets to the gig at the Enmore and enjoying their latest release - Time on Earth.

I've long been a Crowdies tragic. When Split Enz broke up, I simply transfered my affections to any and all of its offspring, but particularly to Neil Finn. I first saw Crowded House in Hamilton in 1990 (or '91). They were supported then, as they will be tonight, by Don McGlashan (then early in the formation of the Muttonbirds). I've seen them several times since but I didn't see their Farewell to the World gig in Sydney (1996). I regret that as I had the dosh having decided not to move to the UK. I bought a good suit instead - it was a great suit, but I wish now I'd jumped on a plane.

Like any fan, I was upset by Paul Hester's suicide. His larrikanism has been much commented on. It was a major part of the way the band performed. I wonder what they'll be like without him, without his cheek to balance Finn's intensity? I remember seeing Crowded House in New Plymouth in '94. It was an afternoon gig in a football field. Half way through the show, Paul insisted on a race around the crowd. Two races in fact, one for kids, one for adults. He called it as if it were a thoroughbred race. It felt like some sort of Christmas holiday camp activity day.

There'll be a singalong, there always is, it's a Enz tradition the Crowdies have kept up. I'll post a review of the gig for anyone who's interested. It'll be positive, almost certainly, and free of any pretense of objectivity. The only risk is that they don't play my cluster of favourites, but if McGlashan sings There is No Depression in New Zealand, well that'd be just grand.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vale Mike Minogue

Mike Minogue has died at age 85.

As I understand it, he was one of the two National MPs that threatened to cross the floor to support Prebble's anti-nuclear Members Bill Mr Minogue was a regular and vocal critic of Muldoon whose persistent dissent thus precipitating no doubt contributed to the calling of the '84 snap election. I know little about Minogue but I have read All Honourable Men: Inside The Muldoon Cabinet 1975-84 in which Hugh Templeton tells of the near total control exercised by the then PM (this google extract includes discussion of Minogue's role). It would have been tough being a Liberal in that caustic environment.

History rightly records Marilyn Waring's role as the critical vote in Caucus, with Mr Minogue's passing he is being appropriately recognised too.

Update: I've been a little frustrated at being unable to verify whether or not Mike Minogue crossed the floor to support Prebble's anti-nuclear bill in 1983. NZ's online Hansard records don't go back beyond 2000.

I've checked the half dozen books I have on this period in NZ's political history (sadly I don't have Gustafson's various publications) but haven't found anything definitive and have had to resort to Google. Fortunately, Google turned up this source (Masters thesis from Otago University Doctoral student, Andreas Rietzig) which includes the following paragraph confirming that Minogue did in fact cross the floor (thanks also to Poneke for his piece on Minogue which also said he'd crossed the floor).
The following year, Richard Prebble launched his third attempt to make New Zealand nuclear-free. On 12 June 1984, Prebble introduced the Nuclear Free New Zealand Bill. This time, also Prebble’s bill called for the exclusion of nuclear-powered ships from New Zealand. As Prebble explained, the bill ‘prohibits the entry of nuclear powered ships and nuclear weapons into New Zealand and further prohibits the building of nuclear reactors within New Zealand.’ Prebble almost succeeded to introduce this bill because National Party MP Marilyn Waring threatened Prime Minister Muldoon to cross the floor and vote for Prebble’s bill against her own party caucus.

As a result, National Party MPs prevented Waring from speaking in Parliament that day by raising numerous points of order until Waring’s time to speak had expired. On the following day, Prebble’s bill was defeated by 40 to 39 votes just like Beetham’s bill one year earlier. Nevertheless, Waring did vote for the bill together with her colleague Mike Minogue. Prebble’s bill was only defeated because two alienated Labour MPs had voted with the government. Since National had a majority of only one person in Parliament, Waring’s decision seriously called Muldoon’s leadership into question. Consequently, Muldoon announced on 14 June 1984 that he would call a snap election because he could no longer rely on Marilyn Waring’s support and could not govern effectively anymore.
[emphasis added]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Memey memey meme-meme

Bloody economists.

Seven totally trivial facts, in no particular order.
  1. I did a Christian TV show when I was at school, Wavelength it was called. I was a regular. It made me real popular with the Novices and got me into all the best prayer-groups.

  2. I really regret not going to see The The in 1989 'cause I thought I had a chance with a girl I can no longer recall.

  3. In 1986, I was stoned for the first time ever on the very day that the nice people from the Government visited to audit my personal Census return - I'd mucked something up, I don't know that I was capable of unmucking it.

  4. I once gave a presentation to a visiting Botswanan delegation that focused largely on training in the seafood industry (I've not travelled much).

  5. Don McGlashan briefly taught me trumpet while I was at secondary school.

  6. David Lange beat my grandfather for the Labour nomination in the 1977 Mangere by-election (he never made the most of it but).

  7. The first gig I ever went to was the second-last Enz with a Bang gig at the Logan Campbell Centre in 1984.

Tagging poneke, jafapete, Trotter, ex-expat and the browncardigan crew.

Luhrmann gets political

Baz Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet, has used the promotion platform of his latest movie, Australia, to comment on Australian race relations, or at least the history of race relations.

Luhrmann noted that had Barack Obama been born in Australia, he'd not likely have achieved anything like he has in the US.

To give context, the President-elect of the United States is 47. If he Was living in Australia, it is absolutely credible that the government, because he had one white parent and one black parent, could have taken him forcibly from his family.

They would have put him in an institution, probably lied to him that his parents were dead, changed his name and reprogrammed him to be European, so he could have some sort of function doing something of service in white society. That would possibly have been Obama's journey.
Sound far fetched, it's not. Note the following from the wikipedia entry on the stolen generation:

In the 1930s, the Northern Territory Protector of Natives, Dr. Cecil Cook, perceived the continuing rise in numbers of "half-caste" children as a problem. His proposed solution was:

Generally by the fifth and invariably by the sixth generation, all native characteristics of the Australian Aborigine are eradicated. The problem of our half-castes will quickly be eliminated by the complete disappearance of the black race, and the swift submergence of their progeny in the white.
Or more recently, from the 1997 Australian national review, Bring them Home (chapter two history of the practice of forced separation):

Dr Max Kamien surveyed 320 adults in Bourke NSW in the 1970s. One in every three reported having been separated from their families in childhood for five or more years.
Luhrmann's comments are no revealation, however, his movie is a partnership with Tourism Australia and intended to boost tourist numbers. I wonder how his government partners feel about his forthright comments?

I'd not really intended to see the movie, though I am a fan of Luhrmann's work, it didn't particularly appeal. Perhaps I now will.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Forever late to the party: Bronagh Key

I despise the Herald, the Herald on Sunday particularly. Sunday papers are almost always rubbish in New Zealand and in Australia. And so rather than explore any number of meaningful and interesting lines of analysis on the new PM, the HoS has instead examined Bronagh Key's dress sense. What this says about their editorial capacity or readership is up to you but I'm with NRT, the handmirror and even DPF in calling bullshit.

Friday, November 21, 2008

David Hicks finally free

When David Hicks pled guilty to terrorism charges in a US military court, he knew that he'd be released to Australia. This was probably the only thing about which he could have been certain. Though freed from inhumane treatment at Guantanamo, he nevertheless had to serve out his sentence. Immediately on arrival in South Australia, he was placed in solitary detention in a maximum security prison. Later, he was released from prison though subject to a control order. In Hicks case, the control order limited where he lived, who he associated with, the phone he used and the hours he was allowed out - restraints that surely represented significantly more freedom than his last six/seven years but which nevertheless still offended some jurists.

Yesterday, Hicks appeared to the public for the first time. He thanked members of GetUp for their support. Though not yet ready to say more about his experience, he asked them to continue supporting him including by opposing any extention of his control order. Whether this, or just the political need to move on, was the cause Hicks got his wish. As of 21 December 2008, the control order expires and will not be renewed.

It's not clear what, if any, restrictions will be placed on Hicks in addition to those that would apply to anyone convicted of a serious offence. His situation is unique. Whether he should ever have been tried will be the subject of debate for many years. I'm inclined to think he shouldn't have been for many of the reasons noted here and here. As I've said previously, Hicks was clearly a foolish and dangerous man. A man who was certain to find himself at war, in prison or dead had he not been detained. However, what Hicks might have done, how he might have breached then non-existent laws, how he might have taken up arms against his own citizens - these unrealised offences don't come near to justifying his treatment.

Lots of people and organisations can be proud of their efforts and support for Hicks. It mightn't have been popular, easy or clear-cut, but for all of Hicks' failings, the defence of him was a defence of us all. Perhaps David Hicks' military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, said it best in his interview with Andrew Denton:
With David Hicks, no-one is saying David actually did anything wrong or hurt anybody, just he was on the wrong side. When you say he's accused of being on the other side, so because he was on the other side we can go ahead and take away those fundamental rights and protections that we give to our murderers and our child molesters and our rapists, and to our corrupt politicians. They get it. Why doesn't David Hicks rate the basic fundamental human values that we give everyone? If he's violated the law and you try him in a fair system, fine. They don't want to give him that fair shake, unfortunately because I think his case has become political and the politics of it don't want to - the first Military ommissions can't be acquittals. They couldn't afford that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

7 for 152

With the first Test underway, 7 for 152 is a score that would ordinarily terrify a kiwi; except we're bowling! It's a short tour but tonight, and possibly only tonight, I'll not be paid-out by my Australian mates.

More self congratulatory clap-trap

The Hive's back, well only to indulge in a bit of frankly, wanky, self-congratulation.

Expect more of this kind of told-you-so stuff from elements of the blogosphere. These authors cling to historical grievances in a way that reminds me of petty teenage rivalries.

What's odd about this piece however, is that it's not about trade, a subject on which the Hive's principal author is clearly expert, but rather on political prognostications - a subject the Hive's principal author ought to know to avoid.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Missed the last Labour PM

By the time I got to Wellington, Labour PMs simply weren't about (and it's not like they were in short supply in the '90s). They'd in fact been gone a few years, some rather begrudgingly so, meaning I had to content myself with seeing them in Opposition only. Fortunately, and despite their defeat, some of senior members of the 4th Labour government remained remarkably effective.

I have a clear recollection of Lange interjecting on a question to the Minister for Police. The Minister was rattled but coped, several of his colleagues however, were clearly disturbed. It wasn't a portfolio-related fear. It was simply the prospect that, were it them taking a question, they knew no possible preparation could fully offset the risk of Lange coming in over the walls. Forgive me the machismo, but I think this is a part of Parliamentary discourse too much undervalued.

It's a dimension of politics that'll challenge Key. He's simply not a great performer in Parliament. He's far from hopeless, but his best performances are very much set pieces. This is fine when you're challenging a government (and can reherse your attack in advance), but the dynamic of being a government is an entirely different proposition. Thinking on your feet, reconciling the days events back to policy statements, knowing when a Minister is at risk and when to simply divert attention - these are skills only really learnt after many years in Parliament. The times ahead are tough and Phil Goff, one of the most experienced members in the House, will combine the necessary scrutiny of Key's government with the need to differentiate himself from elements of Clark's.

I watched Clark leaving Parliament and thought her send-off entirely appropriate. I note others thought it OTT. I simply disagree and I'd've been there if I was able (and can always be expected to spring the water-works). I quite like and respect Craig Ranapia, he's a fantastic writer. It's also good for the blogosphere that a clearly bright and considered commentator exists on the right of the political spectrum - there's not many - but Craig's got this one completely wrong. For all the fawning editorials of Key and the realisation of his boyhood ambitions, Clark just achieved what few NZ PMs have - a stable and successful government for nine years - that's entirely worthy of recognition.

At the risk...

...of being too regularly critical of Feminists, what the hell is Greer thinking? Curmodgeon.

I've not so far cared what Michele Obama wore. Firstly, she wasn't elected. Secondly, I'm not Tim Gunn. But regardless. who the f**k cares? Michele Obama's clearly a remarkably intelligent person, what the hell does Ms Greer hope to achieve in her fashion critique?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Swam over

QueenBee has announced the demise of the Hive. Like others, I'm sorry it's gone. I enjoyed the insights on trade and related matters, presumably authored by the principal writer.

I'd previously criticised QueenBee, however, for a growing inconsistency evident in many of the posts. While claiming to be bipartisan, QueenBee was too often in the company of hacks like Hooton and Whaleoil to be credible. Moreover, QueenBee seemed deaf to her own admonitions of kiwiblogblog.

QueenBee claims the Hive was established in opposition to the Electoral Finance Act and signs off by saying:

In sum there has, we believe, been a fundamental shift in New Zealand politics. The Hive, we believe, played a roll in achieving this shift.

I wonder then, will QueenBee now reveal her identity or is her bold opposition to the Electoral Finance Act limited to anonymous criticisms?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More taxes than wombats

... so says Ken Henry, federal Treasury Secretary.

In today Australian Financial Review, offline, Henry notes that there's 125 different taxes, more than the paltry number of protected northern hairy-nosed wombats, 115.

Too often NZ commentators elide over the complexities of federalism in preference for trite statements claiming Australian's have higher wages (true at least at the upper-end, but probably not in the middle) and lower taxes (next to impossible to know).

Typically, these commentaries focus only on direct income taxes to make out the advantages of working in Australia compared with New Zealand. This obscures, however, the myriad of taxes that occur outside of your pay-packet (as well as some, such as compulsory superannuation and the income-contingent health levy, that are additional to Pay As You Go). For instance, stamp duties and land taxes are major contributors to states' revenue and a significant impost on individuals in addition to income tax.

Henry observes:
An excessive level of complexity wastes resources. It diverts resources from
more valuable uses; many high-achieving tax agents could be school teachers.
The fact is that the Australian tax system is incomparably more complex than New Zealand's. Consider for instance that most salary and wage earners in New Zealand need not even file a tax return, no such exemption exists in Australia (most people have tax agents to do the work for them). Add to this the inummerable GST exemptions and it's impossible to know just how much tax any one individual pays. Makes you wonder about the $6.2 billion bailout to the car industry.


I first remember Rosemary McLeod from my youth. She was a cartoonist and columnist for the Listener. My mother, a nascent femisist, also had a book of her collected writings. She was clearly a significant thinker, commentor and agitator for women's rights. She seemed to be able to address serious matters frankly and with humour.

Later, McLeod became a more angry voice, primarily for the Dominion. In my student politics days, she wrote a very critical piece on comments I'd made about marriages of convenience. Shortland St stars Nick and Rachel entered a marriage of convenience to obtain student allowances and I'd commented that these marriages (they did in fact exist) were "a rational response to an irrational situation". McLeod was incensed. I was selfish, naive, a thief etc etc etc. It was a slightly unhinged response.

Today McLeod gives us her judgment on Helen Clark. There's some direct praise, but it is overshadowed by comments about her marriage, her dress-sense, her academic career and her failure to have kids. It's a good piece of writing however, because it almost obscures McLeod's envy. Clark, unlike McLeod, was in the game, not sitting on the sidelines barking disapproval.

This has been what I've realised about McLeod. She disapproves. Disapproves of sexism, of course, but disapproves also of a woman who's succeeded in politics. Rather than celebrating the achievements of Clark's government, McLeod concentrates her attention on developing a catalogue of her disapprovals. This list includes a disapproval of the newly elected Member for Wellington Central because he's gay and had the audacity to pinch his partner's backside. Grant Robertson's is at the beginning of what will certainly be a successful and influential career. He'll face far sterner criticism that McLeod's. I doubt for a minute he'll be distracted by her latest gripe.

I tell my youngest to be wary of the disapprovalists. The usually insecure, rigid thinkers who need everyone to follow simple stereotypes to make themselves feel good. Fortunately for now, they are kids who are seduced by appeal of conformity, but McLeod proves they can and do grow into adults.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Contact details

I've corrected my contact email address - thanks to the person who pointed out that it was incorrect.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goff assumes the leadership

I've not had a lot to do with Phil Goff though I've long admired him as a political operator. He was opposition justice spokesman when I was at the Ministry of Justice; he caused us a lot of grief. He was consistent and focused. Our Minister, the sauve and confident Doug Graham, was wary; Goff clearly had both a strategy and the ability to effectively implement it.

Earlier still Goff was the target of my frustration at the prospect of paying what now seem entirely reasonable student fees. That said, as soon as I saw Phil up close, I developed a respect for his thoroughness, his focus, his passion and his damn good humour.

When Goff was moved back to Justice and Corrections a year or so back, I thought it was a good move; a move designed to neuter Power. Combined with King's move to Police, I hoped it would stiffle the inevitable law and order beat-up. Initially it did. In fact, even as Parliament drew to a close, Goff was easily dismissing Power's attempts to paint the government as weak. They're not. Phil Goff has run law and order throughout Labour's three terms in government. As others have frequently pointed out, the rate of offending has not skyrocketed, escapees are not swanning about the local shops and Police numbers have expanded. Still, the ravings of the Sensible Sentencing Trust have seen the revival of the crazy policies like ACTs three strikes and your out. Presumably they'd object if the three convictions were against section 59 of the Crimes Act?

QueenBee will have you believe that Goff's ascendency is a repudiation of Clark's leadership and of the left more generally. But this is based on at least two significant (and convenient) misunderstandings. First, it's a misunderstanding of Labour's policy orientation which is significantly broader than the Queen cares to recall. Secondly, it misunderstands the legacy of discipline Labour has embraced since 1996.

It's far more likely that Key should be wary of English than Goff should be wary of any other aspirant. Whereas Key can claim he delivered National government, he will have to prove he's capable of running one. Goff has no such worries.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

High expectations

Key's set himself challenging goals. And, having largely got the result he wanted, it's reasonable to expect he'll deliver on them. His colleagues owe him. Unelectable for almost a decade, Key's remade National. They resemble a coherent team. Moderate. Ruling out Douglas ensures he has some wiggle room. In a few days, they'll stitch up a deal with ACT and United, they'll get warrants and announce priorities. Tax cuts, repealing the Electoral Finance Act and "renewing" various Boards appointments.

Labour will quickly select a new leadership team. With 12 (?) new members, many young, and a brief re-examination of focus, Labour will be a strong opposition. Two new members I've known for a while - Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins - their wins are bitter-sweet.

I will return to Sydney. I would rather stay and support the party as it rebuilds but family and work will not permit it. I'm no less likely to return to NZ than I was. I find the tendency for people to declare they're staying or leaving based on an election result ridiculous. National conscription, that'd make me reconsider my commitment to a country, but not tax rates.

I'm one of the 380k+ who're in Australia. I left under Labour but not for any of the reasons Farrar and his mates bang on about. I left 'cause I wanted a change for a little while and kinda didn't come back. By Key's reckoning then, so long my circumstances keep me in Australia, his goverment is failing. That's no more credible now than it was when Lockwood released National's immigration policy.

I was impressed by Clark's concession speech. Her's is a remarkable legacy. I take her lead in celebrating the last nine years and respecting the electorate's absolute right to determine government. Key deserves his chance to lead, I have my doubts but he's got a clear mandate.

See you 'round.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hot and hilly

Wellington remains my home. Although I left six years ago, I still feel immediately comfortable on arrival. The weather's fantastic, for the moment. I catch up with lots of friends, we go to fantastic cafes. New shops and galleries have opened. Posters for gigs are everywhere. Skin Tight is on. I saw it years ago. It was brilliant. I'll not see it this time but I'm keen to check out Fur Patrol. Julia Dean's saucy - I last them in Sydney when they opened for Pacifier... yes, then.

Out delivering leaflets for Grant Robertson, I get lost. I thought I knew Dixon St, but I'm confused and looking around Courtney Place. I recover my sense of geography but can't work out how to get into some of the flats. I push buttons and am eventually let in to deliver personalised letters.

The reaction Grant's getting is fantastic. He's the perfect candidate. Smart, connected and genuine. He's young, a new face. People clearly warm to him. I'm not surprised. I've known him for coming on 17 years. I'm happy to be helping him.

Tomorrow Rimutaka. Chris Hipkins is hosting Helen Clark.

Wellington and elections. Two of my favourite things.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Obamanator

How some see Barack...

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Face Combined with Barack Obama -

is a little different to others...

The faces of Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden combined together -

Hat-tip: browncardigan (I swear we've got different audiences, it's the only reason I shamelessly copy all your stuff).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robertson 1, Franks 0

I can confidently say that in the only poll that matters, the General Election, Grant Robertson is comfortably ahead of Stephen Franks.

This morning I cast a special vote for Grant and Labour in Sydney. I was the first customer at the temporary polling booth - perhaps I'm the first voter for the Wellington Central electorate, perhaps the first voter in the NZ General Election ...?

A cluster of unions had collected eligible members but it was wet so a number of the construction guys were stuck at work-sites (had it been dry, they'd have been able to turn up during their official "smoko", but as it was wet, if they left they'd miss out on four hours pay - there's an irony in that I'm sure). In fact, as I wandered back to the office, I could easily have been back in Wellington it was that cold.

Media showed up - TVNZ, TV3, ABC, SBS and Reuters. They got some good images of the haka. It was faithfully and respectfully performed following karakia. I stood in the back. I was asked to get in the front and should have but self-conciousness got the better of me.

Fourteen years ago, Grant and I stood against each other for the presidency of NZUSA. He didn't get my vote, I think he understood why. I'm happy to have been, possibly, the first person who voted for him this time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

08Wire predicts another cliff-hanger

Last election I sat glued to my computer constantly mashing the refresh key as the evening swung from a National to a Labour government. I remember hearing Labour's Mike Williams cautioning against panic as he predicted Auckland seats would favour Labour. He was of course proven right. The closest of elections still gave Labour first go at forming a government. One that's lasted despite real awkwardness.

This year I'll at least be in New Zealand - in the Wellington region supporting Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins (and also keeping a eye on Jils Angus Burney). All are good friends and all will make excellent MPs.

Not being the mathematical whizz 08wire and Steve Pierson are, I'm reliant on others for intelligent commentary on the polls. The thread on the poll of polls is particularly enlightening with Rob Salmond's analysis showing Labour's closing the gap. The comments are all the more encouraging with suggestions that Rob's being conservative by over-weighting older polls which had National in a stronger position.

I know Labour, the Greens and their partners have a job ahead of them but I don't think the election's out of reach. New Zealand's got to navigate difficult times in the near future and increasingly I think the public have questions about Key's capacity to be the kind of consistent and decisive leader needed. Key's mishandling of negotiations with Maori may well have cost him dearly. Come election day, it may only be ACT and United he can rely on and the prospect of Douglas being back in Cabinet will chill many who remember the turmoil of the early '90s.

Last Days of Bush

I wonder what George W's Facebook page looks like?

Hat-tip: browncardigan

Is Key himself a legitimate issue?

Is Key's character an issue for this election? I believe it is.

I think Key's lack of experience and his inconsistency seriously impact his credibility. His flip-flopping is well documented but that alone's not fatal. Instead, it's his shiftiness that troubles me. It's evident in his handling of Francesca Mould's questioning over his Rail shares. If the explanation was as innocent as he claims, why not say so at the earliest possible opportunity?

Christopher Hitchens has written a devastating piece criticising McCain and Palin - particularly Palin - for lacking the essential character to lead. His piece includes this quote:
A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
Danyl at the DimPost has noted a increasingly negative tone to the campaign. His view is Labour are wrong to follow this strategy - he may be right but I think Key's character is important to his capacity to be PM.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Future fund loses $780M

Cossie's Future Fund has not faired well of late. Hardly surprising given the environment. The return for 07/08 is a modest 1.5 per cent. That's 3 per cent less that CPI and hugely down on the almost 7.4 per cent in the previous year. This is hard on people who're expecting to retire soon - I wonder what reforecasting is being done to assess the numbers of people who'll defer their retirements?

It's worth remembering that in 2006/7, Costello made one-off changes to the tax system to enable additional contributions of up to $1 million. Here's what he said at the time:

For people who were planning a large payment into superannuation under the current rules and would have become subject to the contribution limits, we are announcing that subject to any applicable work test, they will be able to put $1 million of post-tax contributions into superannuation before the 30th of June 2007.
Costello couldn't have foreseen the global financial meltdown so he can't be held responsible for the fact that these additional contributions may have reduced the net benefits for some (he does tend to have a bob-each-way however as he's also said that he'd told Greenspan that he foresaw problems...). Still his various disingenuous declamations possibly won't help his credibility.

Also note that compared with John Key's plan to have 40 per cent of the NZ fund invested domestically, the Australia Future Fund invests only 9 per cent with close to 20 in global equities. The majority, 35 billion or approximately 60 million is in cash. Note that these figures exclude Telstra holdings which are in escrow. Finally, check out the principles guiding the Board's investment strategy (page 17) which include this statement:

that a higher expected return per unit risk (investment efficiency) can be obtained from a broadly diversified allocation across asset classes.
Given that John's so keen on Australian aspirations, why's he so ignorant of their strategies? Costello's miscalculation disproves his legendary soothsaying abilities, why would you believe Key's are better?

Four day five day Test with a difference

Australia have won so many Tests in four days, I almost missed the significance of today's news: Australia may lose a Test in four days.

Is Hayden's career over? His 29 in the second innings is his higest score in this series. But what about Watson? Good knock in the first innings but 2 in the second. Even Hussey failed... The freebie newspaper handed out to Sydney commuters is calling for the Pup to be handed captaincy! At 9.20pm EST, Australia need 434 runs with five wickets in hand and four sessions left to play.

I'll resist the temptation until NZ have beaten Bangladesh... four session, nine wickets in hand and 174 runs to win.

Actually, I might even hold out until after the two-Test series in November. Two Tests? WTF? Two Tests and only a warm-up game against NSW. Bastards. Assuming they don't play Katich, Lee, Pup or even Haddin. I suspect Stuey Clark, Bracken or Jacques will be well keen to prove a point.

Gratuitous blog-links

Three recent posts have caught my eye. Two, by Chis Trotter and NRT, deal with the prospect of an over-hang and the third is about special education.

Chris wrote this very critical piece concerning the prospect of a Maori-National coalition. Like Chris, I can't see it being sustainable because it appears to be inconsistent with Maori views (at least as they've been expressed in this survey). However, I don't agree with Chris that the prospect of a Maori-National coalition proves the fault of the Maori seats. I agree that Maori seats are somewhat incongruous in our MMP system but I don'think that means they ought not exist.

Though it's often be criticised as being naive, which it is not, the historical development of Maori seats and the link to the Treaty remains a sufficient justification for their existence IMO. The fact that our arrangements don't entirely cohere to an idealised standard doesn't mean they're defunct - certainly not while they work and there's no evidence to suggest they don't. That said, I tend to agree they may not be needed if we continue to see a genuine plurality in Parliament (plus there's a greater consensus around resolution of outstanding Treaty claims) but I'm not sure where there yet.

I'm intrigued by NRT's suggestion of list only MPs as a way of avoiding the distortionary effects of an overhang. My concern would be that there'd be something significant lost by discontinuing electorate MPs. Anyone who's worked in a public sector role will know just how effective and important electorate MPs can be; good electorate MPs earn their wage daily by helping navigate often hopelessly complex bureaucracy.

Finally to Grant Robertson's piece on Special Education. I share Robertson's focus on Special Education. If New Zealand is anything like Australia, then it's almost certain the demand for more and better support for kids with disabilities will increase (plus it's still not adequately funded).

I worked in Parliament in the early days of the National-NZFirst coalition which largely implemented Labour policy on funding for special education. The mix of funding for schools and for pupils seemed the right way to go to provide both mainstream and specialist facilities for an increasingly diverse range of kids. I was aghast to discover that an entirely arbitrary decision was taken to reduce funding available for individual kids - it was never explained and it quickly meant a log-jam of applications and a slowing of funding.

It was obvious to me that the then Associate Minister, the late Brian Donnelly, was being frustrated by his senior colleague, Wyatt Creech, who was simply to bloody mean to properly fund the otherwise good scheme. Forunately Chris Carter's investing the necessaries at last.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Australian Liberal Leader's a Twitter

Malcolm Turnbull proves he's hip-with-the-kids.

NSW by-elections

Four Labor-held State seats are up for by-election tomorrow. The retirements of the Premier, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Health will all test electorate reaction to the new Labor-leadership. Rather than offer my opinion - I can't even vote - I'll offer ABC polling expert, Anthony Green's.

Grooves for the weekend

Each week Ben Watt makes his hour-long radio set available online at buzzin'fly radio.

Listen to it.

Watt's buzzin'fly label is quite simply the best around in house/deep-house from the UK and Europe and he DJs regular spots in London. He's also often in Australia. I saw him a year or so back at a club off Oxford St, Sydney - it's possibly the last time I went to a dance gig in fact (over-night babysitters are in short supply).

Watt previously was one half of Everything but the Girl with his wife Tracy Thorn.

I read Watt's book, Patient, recently. It's a pretty frank narrative about his near-death in the late '90s just as ETBG were taking off. The copy I had is signed by Watt himself - a friend was one of his nurses (she was one of the nurses who looked after Rik Mayall too).

As you slide into the weekend I recommend Ben Watt; it's the last thing I do on a Friday evening as I sup a Gin.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Queen Bee's mask slips

QueenBee's wellingtonhive is popular and prolific blog. The mix of politics, trade news and general commentary is interesting although the editorial line is a little didactic (particularly given the claimed independence). But this latest post is simply tawdry .

I posted earlier about the double standard right-wing bloggers seem to have; on the one hand insisting on unregulated markets, unfettered individualism and freedom from the deadening hand of government but, on the other hand, censoring all criticism.

QueenBee's comments rule clearly states:

Keep comments relevant to the post in question. No speculation about anyone's sexuality.

So much for that. I guess it's hard to maintain standards in a group blog?

UPDATE: QB assures me that I've misinterpreted the intent of this piece. I accept her word.

Obama on Free Trade

An hour into the debate, Obama talks about Free Trade - an issue of importance to NZ which is well positioned to do a multi-lateral trade deal with Asian partners and the US. Suggesting he's pro-Free Trade is one thing, but agricultural special interests and unions may curb his enthusiasm. The level of subsidies payable to US farmers is not the only issue at play - so too is the flow of migrant labour - migrants who may be critical to Obama's winning in some key Southern States.


Parody and satire can be best response sometimes. 08wire's mash-up of Key is superb.

Deleted on lawyers advice

Bryan Spondre's keen to protect his talent. Matthew Hooton's been throwing out raw meat complete with wild and unsubstantiated accusations of corruption but any hint of criticism and Bryan deleterious hand descends to obliterate it.

His footprint is left however to tell you you've transgressed:

You’ve not c... Comment deleted because our lawyers told us too. Bryan Spondre Blog Producer.

I'm assuming my comment was considered prima facie defamatory, however it merely said that Matthew hadn't calmed down since Eye to Eye and that he shouldn't lend his considerable gravitas to the whirlygig of the right-wing blogosphere.

Ironic, sure. Sarcastic, yup. Insulting, not really. Defamatory, don't be ridiculous.

What's a little hard to understand is that Matthew's the tough-guy that stood-up to Winston and gave him an ear-full. Is he really so fragile that a gentle prod in the ribs requires editing?

Surprisingly, editing critical comments appears acceptable on the right. In response to a hopelessly ill-informed rant by Cactus Kate on, amongst other things, education comments I made about how well NZ was doing were not published (personal insults were fine but). In response to silly speculation by the wellingtonhive that government was restricting access to critical blogs, my clearly ironic piss-take was deleted also.

At kiwiblogblog, we accepted that our inflamatory posts would attract similarly inflammatory responses. We applied a tolerance in those, but not all, instances.

My advice for these bloggers is if don't want to be mocked; Calm down.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Billions may flow east, what about people?

Sometimes the most deserving stories are simply ignored. Back in August, the government announced it had concluded a deal with the Australian government to permit super portability. This removed an exception that meant NZers could only access their super at retirement, even if they'd left Australia - in this way NZers were being treated as if they were Australians (this makes sense given the fluidity of movements across the Tasman).

The deal is worth billions. Some estimates of unclaimed Australian super suggest 30 per cent of the $13 billion (AUD) could be heading east (though the value of this may have depreciated significantly in the last month). The arrangement requires legislation, however it's expected to be in place in 2009.

I know several people who'll directly benefit from this development - kiwis who've done a few years in Australia but returned home and will now shift their Australian investments back to kiwisaver accounts. I know a few others for whom this might also tip the balance and cause them to return home. This deal depended on the existence of kiwisaver.

In the mash-up of policies National announced recently, Lockwood's immigration policy is nothing of the sort - it's a migration policy that contains almost nothing of substance that'll encourage kiwis home. There's barely a few lines on emigration, the vast majority of policies are focused on increasing immigration.

Scarey brown folk might run the show?

NRT blogs on Rodney Hide's concerns that the Maori Party may potentially hold the balance of power in the next Parliament. Anyone can vote for the Maori Party with their party vote, therefore I'm not at all sure how they're any different from any other minor party? As NRT notes, there might be issues about overhangs and how they occur, but that's not what Rodney focused on.

Our MMP system of government has so far allowed minor parties a fairly significant role in the make up of government. Some parties have managed this better than others. National's faired poorly given that barely managed to see out its first and only term under MMP and NZFirst have shown, shall we say, flexibility. Labour's clearly done well having now managed three full terms - terms during which they've largely implemented their own manifesto while adequately providing space for their partners. I'm sure there'd be a diversity of views about the adequacy of this space however... particularly from the Greens.

Assuming NZFirst are a spent force, there's space for new centre party and the Maori Party may be just the ticket. Both Labour and National have their enmities with some within the Maori Party but both should be able to develop workable coalitions if required. However, can National do what Labour has which is to manage multiple coalition partners? Could you imagine a Cabinet that included both Roger Douglas and Tariana Turia?

Leadership first requires a consistent narrative

Listening to Helen Clark on Checkpoint yesterday confirmed for me what others had been saying: Labour's energised around a clear and consistent policy agenda.

Clark's unrivalled as a political leader. Over nine years, she's built a policy framework that culminated in yesterday's announcement on student allowances. If you focus just on the economics, first fees were regulated, then the loan scheme amended to reduce debt and accelerate repayments, then interest was forgone and now finally reinstating universal allowances. Labour can now say the upfront cost of allowances is comparable to the costs of lending (as I've noted here and here this doesn't take into account the revenue-side).

The economics, however, is only part of the narrative. Each election Labour's refined and extended its investment in tertiary education. In the first term, the focus was on industry training. Here the bought considerable business good will by trebling their investment, allowing companies greater flexibility and lending political muscle to a scheme that had languished under National Ministers (not Lockwood and Birch however). Through the first two terms, Labour wrestled back some control of the system but progressively linking funding to outputs - this might've angered some such as Southern Institute of Technology but it means training is more closely aligned to labour market demand.

Throughout this time, Labour's weathered various storms. Maharey was frequently challenged by the Opposition through the transition as various providers went rogue - none more so that CPIT which rorted uncapped funding to grow low-cost and low-value training. But despite this, a consistent narrative was driving Labour, so much so that it forced the Opposition into line. Key's famous about turn on interest-free loans is the clearest evidence of its effectiveness.

Yesterday Mary Wilson charged Clark with being cynical. Clark easily rebutted this pointing out the consistency with which her government has acted over the decade. When English came on afterwards he had little room to move. Despite the predictability of Labour's announcement, National's never developed an alternative narrative (having abandoned it's pre-99 approach given its failure).

Labour's record on education, tertiary and other pathways, provides it with the strong narrative that National lacks. National would have dearly loved to have campaigned purely tax cuts but its package is not nearly strong enough. Having put so many eggs in this one basket, it's struggling to compete in the final stages of the election. Will Labour's resurgence be enough to recapture the votes it needs? I don't know. However, Clark's position as the premier politician of her time has never been clearer than it was yesterday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moving on...

For years and years I, and many many other students besides, argued strenulously for universal allowances and lower fees.

We railed first against Marshall and Goff and then against Lockwood and Creech. We pointed out the apalling inequity that while we were missing out, people who were unemployed were supported. We argued that poorer kids were put off and that education was a right. That your parents couldn't be expected to support you until you were twenty five. Sometimes, things got weird such as when the marriage loop-hole was championed by Shortland Street's Nick and Rachel.

My view then as now is that investing in higher education is vital to our future prosperity.

The left have always been the most amenable to this argument. The right have said its simple self-interest; that farmers don't get tax-payer funded training nor do pilots. Farmers do by the way, see here and here. Progressively however, Labour have modified and improved funding for students and for higher education to the point now where the annual cost of borrowing can be converted into universal allowances. Of course there's a impact on the Crown accounts - future debts will neither be incurred nor repaid but the Crown will still have to meet the costs of allowances. Of course there's some inequity between cohorts; I repaid my loan and I don't imagine I'll get a refund. These are not the main objections however, at least not the ones being trotted out by the likes of Farrar and Hooton.

Farrar and Hooton have discovered fiscal responsibility just in time to pronounce Clark and Cullen unfit. Universal tax cuts might be fine, but universal allowances; Labour's scuttling the boat. Predictable faux-outrage.

I'd have my reservations about this policy absent others but the fact is that Labour's track-record on education is extremely good. Critically for me, they have consistently invested in industry training and have now announced plans to further expand participation. Whereas the tertiary sector risked becoming faddish and irrelevant under Creech's funding system - a system that encouraged all providers to offer degrees and vandalised trade training - changes over the last ten years have created specialisation, refocused providers on local labour markets and promoted research.

I've said elsewhere this wouldn't be my number one priority - that'd be early childhood and special education - but when you examine the overall mix and balance of education policy, Labour's record is unrivalled and soon Generation Debt, a generation created by National, will be a thing of the past.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Political fluffer

There's never a shortage of fools in politics. Some, but not in fact many, are elected but most are content to bray from the sidelines. Foolishness is good copy, fools make great sycophants and fools never know when to shut up.

Each and every election throws up hundreds of opportunities for foolishness. Cameras are mostly trained on the real talent but citizen-journalism provides unprecdented digital opportunity; 15 megabites of fame anyone? Youtube's awash with gaffes, open-microphones and candid asides. A PublicAddress commentator wondered if Stephen Franks apparent homophobia would be "this election's macaca moment" but I suspect Hooten crude exchange with Winston Peters will take some beating.

Hooten's a genuine standard-setter and has clearly been angling for this opportunity for a while. Cheered on by his blog-mates, he's cast himself as people's champion. The one who stood up to Winston on their behalf and said what needed saying. The cool kids will be impressed!

I can't help wonder but, did Willie Jackson, Matthew's mate, just cast him as Winston's fluffer?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Channelling Brian Neeson

You'd have thought John lost to Brian Neeson based on this morning's news that National will lock 'em and throw away the key (sorry, an obvious but compelling pun).

Neeson was the architect of the Degrees of Murder members bill in 1996/97 which, if memory serves, differentiated several categories of culpable homocide, murder, from manslaughter so that an offender could be sentenced not just to prison for their natural life but to thoroughly punative and heavily secured incarceration.

The problem then as now is that the policy is idiotic, expensive and unlikely to reduce violent offending.

Key's tapping into public emnity with the Parole Board which, in releasing the likes of Antonie Dixon, has been in the media too often. There's a boring predictability about this tactic. Opposition's talk up crime every election - here's Brash launching National's 2005 policy:

Parole is a failed experiment. The next National Government will abolish parole as we know it.

I'm inclined to agree with the Standard's analysis, that National's retreading of law and order policies is designed to fill a gap while they re-work their tax policy. Moreover, Steve Pierson confirms that crime has progressively declined since 1993.

I also can't help but think that negative campaigning is the wrong way to go for National. Particularly for Key. What happened to the Labour-plus approach English spoke of? Surely that group of voters are more amenable to a positive strategy - that's my impression of how Rudd won.

Perhaps it's time for a stunt like English's fight for life?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tax cuts

National's quandry on tax is complicated by the financial crisis. Global demand is likely to soften in the short-term which will impact NZ just like every other country. Cutting personal and/or corporate tax can't offset this and so even if National gets some political advantage going into the election, it still faces the prospect that GDP may weaken over the next three years. That's not their fault, but it's unclear what they will do about it.

I've been impressed by the commentary of the New Zealand Institute. Compared with the Business Roundtable, Skilling's team are unencumbered by past battles and less ideological. Several publications point out that New Zealand's low trade intensity and foreign direct investment are significant constraints on economic growth - Key might have thought his infrastructure plans might improve FDI but that may be less likely now.

A tax cut doesn't lift productivity. A corporate rate cut may improve profits and encourage investors, but by itself, it has only a one-off benefit. National's cure-all tax cuts may realise an electoral advantage later this year, but it is an inadequate response that, alone, is unlikely to realise sustainable productivity improvements. I don't doubt they know this, but they've backed themselves into a corner and must deliver even if it ends up crowding out other options.


Brown cardigan boys say: "this amazes me" - me too.

Have I posted this before, I don't recall

Eddie Izzard has become a respectable actor, but was once a brilliant comedian - this lego animation is as good as the original performance.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Meh, kinda walked into that

Bryan Spondre's given me just enough rope... just enough. As he says, it's just the interweb.

Pissing contest and wet feet; there's a certain inevitability.

Chastened but not chaste

QueenBee's site the Hive is a slightly toned down version of the run of the mill right-wing attack site. The language is more muted and the editorial line less didactic but the focus is no different.

Several posts show QueenBee is less and less able to quiet her prejudices. Here she's hyping the already over-the-top story that the Police are at the beck and call of the ninth floor. Here it's the paranoid speculation that right-wing blog sites are being blocked government departments. Plus there's more links to the reprehensible Slater than could be explained as inadvertent.

The Hive is more clipping service than blog. I'm guessing QueenBee's interest is in developing blog-channels back to the MSM, not in providing some new insights for the blogosphere.

QueenBee gave kiwiblogblog a verbal lashing for being not being constructive, I suggest that her own standards have declined inversely in relation to her ratings. It gets to us all after a while.

Update: QueenBee's reaction to my comment is here. QueenBee speculates that something she said about kiwiblogblog "got under my skin"; not really, however had criticism been genuine, it would have been at least heeded by its author. Queen's obsession with metrics is a bit of a giveaway for a new blogger. Controversy is easy and temporarily gratifying, but it's indulgent and only sustainable if you're prepared to plumb the depths Slater does. That is my experience at least.

Not decided but distracted

Endless colours, templates and gadgets - backin15 is a chameleon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Do you know... Obama's doing?

Hat-tip: brown cardigan

Blogger pathology

I have to stop picking fights. They're largely irrelevant and almost certainly patholical; an opportunity to vent my frustrations at not being in NZ.

Having discontinued my involvement in kiwiblogblog, I'd intended to leave the fray and simply enjoy the PublicAddress cluster of bloggers however, I've once again found myself poking sticks at right-wing bloggers. Most recently Matthew Hooton and Cactus Kate.

Matthew's a legitimate target to the extent that, having built his business by dealing with clients who're pissed off with Labour, he now seems intent on repositioning himself as a commentator when really, he's a cypher. I can't see the logic in his posts on the Police investigations of emails leaked from Brash's office though? If anything they serve only to remind the public that Key's the latest in a long line-up of largely ineffective and dispensiable leaders, plus it leads to speculation about Key's role in Brash's fall from grace. I'm guessing that it is intended as a distraction so we stop talking about Key's inept and/or corrupt dealings with Rail.

Kate though, I don't quite know why I bothered. I've read her blog on and off for a while and mostly I've concluded it's not meant for me - it's meant for younger, more mobile professionals who aspire to know where to simultaneously get a manicure and a cocktail. But her tendency to prattle on about how shit NZ is annoys me and god knows she'll tell you she's got lots of other more important things she could do. Do I know have to check if I've graduated into a class with Rachel Glucina?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Heard it here first

Top Aussie song: Under the Milky Way.

You heard it here first, August 21st 2007, in fact.

I don't agree but.

The top song to come out of Australia is Hunters and Collectors Throw Your Arms Around Me (didn't make the top 20) but perhaps the Church are second. Silverchair's Straight Lines and the Go Betweens Streets of Your Town are in my top 5 also. Crowdies get 6 songs - you could argue they're not an Aussie band but you can argue that both ways so it's a bit pointless.

Over at Larvatus Prodeo there's a suggestion that Kylie's Arse ought to be at the top. This lyric's compelling:
I'm a son, I love my mother.
Love my brother like a brother.
But for me there is another.
Funny how things come to pass.
I must make a confession.
It has grown into obession.
Even if it was clad in hessian.
I'd still love Kylie's arse.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kinda, maybe, thinking about blogging again...

Deborah has started blogging the NZ General Election at Larvartus Prodeo which has made me rethink my blog-engagement.

This blog's been ignored since October last year when I joined the group behind kiwiblogblog (now deleted). Since we pulled pulled that pin, I've concentrated my efforts mainly at Public Address (which, IMO, remains the standard-setter in NZ) with some forays into kiwiblog and the Standard.

The impending NZ election is terribly distracting for me, it'll be the second I've missed having moved to Sydney just after the 2002 election. I respect the work of both Deborah and Idiot/Savant but perhaps there's a few things I might contribute to the debate here too...

Like starting with this largely irrelevant piece of faux-policy; National's immigration policy. Though it claims to be designed to "bring more kiwis" home, it contains almost no policies that appear likely or even intended to do so. In fact, the 'typo' in the title gives the game away - immigration is usually associated with the arrival of people into a country who are in fact citizens of another. And this policy may do that, but the mislabelling pretends it'll do something else: stop NZ citizens from leaving. It won't.

National's game-playing about migration is well established and analysed (including by the incredibly numerate Mr Pierson). Net Permanent and Long Term Departures (PLTs) are currently higher than they have been in a while and in an environment of skill and labour shortages, that's a problem. It's a problem because it may constrain the economy and could lead to wage-inflation. But it's often over-stated and the solutions are far from simple. David Farrar makes this very point in response to my question:
David, do you have a view about what element(s) of National’s immigration policy will impact on emigration? You’ll think I’m being very partisan, but I can’t see anything that is intended or likely to directly impact on PLT departures.

[DPF: An immigration policy tends to only affect immigration not emigration. You can’t stop people emigrating. The economic policy is more likely to impact on PLT departures and/or NZers returning.]

I tend to agree.

So first, can someone tell Lockwood his policy will not slow emigration and secondly can the National Party please tell us how they'll improve economic growth at a rate beyond what Labour's done these last 9 years?