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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Keep Auckland Guessing

Keep Auckland Moving website and the group's report is online.
Mayor Len Brown, the ideological clown, has sided again with the business lobby and the upper and middle classes against his working class supporters - just as he did when he backed the management over the unions at the Ports of Auckland lockout - this time he's bought the roading lobby's spin and is backing the pernicious cocktail of tolls and road charges to fund Auckland's transport needs.

 NZ Herald:
Aucklanders face heftier transport costs under either funding option put forward by an advisory group to Mayor Len Brown, but road charges are picked to provide better payback.
The 17-member mayoral group - on which business and union leaders have joined transport campaigners and the Automobile Association - is trying to build a consensus among Aucklanders while asking them which option they would "prefer" before it makes a final recommendation to city councillors in July.Mr Brown is not saying whether he will call a referendum on the issue, which centre-right councillor Cameron Brewer insisted yesterday should be held during the local body elections in October.

He should call his bluff. But the wording of the options and what it envisages is crucial. Probably too dangerous to contemplate though, that's why Brewer is having a poke. I heard the Mayor saying he was now in favour of charging people for using the existing roads. It must have been on radio because I can't find the statement online, just an official release about the report.

Len Brown says:
"I would encourage Aucklanders to look at the report and have their say as part of the consultation process. We all have a stake in Auckland's future, and our ability to move freely and easily around the city is clearly an issue that touches the lives of all Aucklanders."

No-one will be able to "move freely" if there are tolls and charges set up across the city. They will move expensively.

To the better off - especially the company car mob that would have all the deductable and GST-refundable tolling bills picked up by the firm anyway - the term freely means something different than it does to the plebs who are planned into what will be a bus-dependent future (see Auckland Transport Blog on the disingenious bus proponents). No more shit heaps clogging up the road - or at least the roads they use - that's how they see the solution to congestion. It is basically unfair and I would hope people reject the concept.

What I see and hear is more evidence that Len will line up with the big knobs instead of taking on Wellington where most of the problems lie.

On the issue of Auckland public transport I say again for the quazillionth time:

The problem is the transport funding is aggregated to a quasi-political group (Auckland Transport) so that the most difficult, costly and longest timeline to build (ie. rail) will always be sacrificed for shorter-term, easier and cheaper options (that will only be marginal improvements but never the best option). Until there is a separate statute establishing a rail authority for Auckland specifically mandated to build and operate the rail system over 50-100 years and mandated to strike its own rate based on the capital costs of the system (and limited to a 1.0 rate for properties within 1km and maybe a 0.5 rate for properties 1-2km from a rail station) then rail will always come last on the list.

Dooming the city to run on bloody buses forever is not an option - it just adds to the road congestion. Only a sustainable and independently funded agency for rail will have the focus and long-term planning ability to complete the task and operate the system. What a shame no-one in a position to do something has ever promoted that idea.

NZ Herald:
First Union secretary Robert Reid, representing unions on the mayoral group, said the Government's refusal to join the panel had made the exercise more difficult and turned it into a case of "what Aucklanders can do by themselves to get the changes and transport project which the Auckland Plan calls for".But the Government would sooner or later "have to come to the party".

Two roads
Recommendations for raising $400 million more a year on top of extra Government funding and limited public transport fare rises.

Option 1
* Rates rises: $90m
* Fuel tax rises (including a possible regional levy): $250m
* Tolls on new roads: $60m
* Average extra daily transport cost per household: 70c to 75c
* Daily travel time saving per household: 50c

Option 2
* Road tolls and charges (existing roads)*: $250m
* Extra revenue rates and fuel tax rises, and tolls on new roads: $150m.
* Average extra daily transport cost per household: 80c-110c
* Daily travel time saving per household: 95c.

* Motorway tolls or charges to pass through cordons on existing arterial routes).

And the context to all this congestion is not just the under-investment and mal-investment by successive governments and Auckland authorities either, the reason mega billions have to be found is because the city's population is planned to rise by some astounding figure - a million additional people over the next 30 years.

The fudges the officials are trying to sell the public revolve around deliberately underestimating the impact of immigrant flows. The unique aspect of the ethnicity figure in the Auckland Plan, for example, was it was the shortest projection by far in the whole 300+ page document at only 9 years, when everything else was 20, 30 or 40 years. They are trying to hide something that is as plain as the people in the street. And what a crowded street it will become.

The problem [transport] is going to get much worse. One new Aucklander is being added to our city every 20 minutes, giving us a predicted population of between 2.2 and 2.5 million by 2041

They are trying to assert that most of this million people will be births and people within NZ migrating to Auckland. This is so obviously false. With the natural increase being so low there is no way internal migration will make up the numbers they claim. - it is spurious. The vast majority of the million will be immigrants - most of whom will be from Asia, mainly China and India - that's the sort of facts they aren't keen to publicise. They seem keen enough on the raw numbers though - as if it were a triumph and uncontroversially a positive thing - as if they were actively aiming for a million rather than having it imposed by Wellington as a fait accompli.

Congestion is the symptom, mass immigration is actually the problem. We add more people than we can cope with and that is unsustainable. We are in a permanent infrastructural deficit. One of the more obvious answers in this situation is to stem the demand for the scarce transport resources, ie. less immigration. Cutting our meagre cloth for a whole lot of other people who are about to march in is not the best way to make a suit that fits.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Energy royalties in NZ: tender issues

More boasting from the Nats today on how quickly they are selling the country's nationalised resources off to foreigners.

Government's oil and gas tender
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today announced details of the Government’s second round to attract competing bids for oil and gas exploration permits.
Speaking at the Advantage NZ: 2013 Petroleum Conference, Mr Bridges said Block Offer 2013 is an important step towards realising the potential of New Zealand’s oil and gas resources.
“Block Offer 2013 includes 189,000 square kilometres of offshore and over 1,500 square kilometres of onshore area. The following areas will be open for bidding on 24 May:
  • three defined onshore blocks in Taranaki
  • two defined onshore blocks on the East Coast of the North Island
  • three offshore release areas in the Reinga-Northland Basins, Taranaki Basin and Great South-Canterbury Basins

Just as well Ministers tend to focus on the jobs and the on-shore economy than the royalties because that is definitely the weak point. The fact they assiduously avoid any direct statement as to what exactly the amount of the royalty is in these matters speaks volumes. Any statement from a Minister will never answer this question - it will be rolled into the accounting profit and company tax etc. the public will never be given a straight answer. Why? We are being ripped off. It is very difficult to come to any other conclusion.

I've looked for the answers to royalties in this official review, but as one would expect it is well disguised. [Found here - see figures at end of blog] On top of this fog is that each field - developed in stages over the years - seems to be on a different royalty system. This makes generalising conveniently difficult. The review is about the valuation as a whole over the lifetime of the fields rather than the revenue. What it shows is not that fabulous and they are not anticipating a bonanza.

We calculate the overall value of the Crown’s royalty from currently producing fields in the petroleum estate, as at 30 June 2010, to be NZ$3,191 million.


Over about 20 years of life the current fields will therefore yield on that total $3.2b about $160m pa. Hardly Australia or Kuwait. The projections are all over the show as it is guesswork about what finds will or will not take place in the next generation. The report says:--

We view the prudent valuation for the Crown’s royalty from future discoveries, as at 30 June 2010, to be $5,545 million [...]

 That would still be well below half a billion dollars annually. The report's low trajectory shows a peak of a billion dollars in annual royalties at 2036, the mid one, $1b pa by 2018, $2b by 2030 and $5b by 2046. The high trajectory is la-la land. What I would like to know is what the average royalties are on a barrel of oil, cumex of gas etc., compared with other nations.

From the figures at the NZPAM:--

Government revenue (NZ$) from petroleum and mineral royalties and ERLs
 2011-2012 2010-20112009-20102008-20092007-2008
Energy Resource Levy – coal9,510,4218,257,3396,494,0957,144,6338,198,386
Energy Resources Levy – gas26,852,34627,451,44932,697,50831,378,46938,056,798
Total ERLs36,362,76735,708,78739,191,60338,523,10246,255,183
Royalties – minerals (excluding coal)10,789,1159,284,52911,345,5266,543,1073,614,108
Royalties – coal2,756,5082,258,972918,3391,034,8751,304,758
Total royalties – minerals13,545,62311,543,50112,263,8657,577,9824,918,866
Total royalties – petroleum333,760,254357,058,364399,194,757511,580,79186,093,975
Total royalties347,305,877368,601,865411,458,621519,158,77391,012,840
Total ERL and royalties – minerals, including coal23,056,04419,800,84018,757,96014,722,61513,117,252
Total ERL and royalties – petroleum360,612,600384,509,812431,892,265542,959,260124,150,773
Total revenue (NZ$)383,668,644404,310,652450,650,223557,681,875137,268,023
-- The revenue has declined significantly - perhaps the global recession more than output.

A nexus of interconnected decision-making... and other Horomiaisms

Labour's lovable, rotund rhetoritician of bamboozling bureaucratese has been unwell for some time - as I understand it - and has not been practising his confounding oratory at the usual places you would expect to see him (and, no I don't mean Bellamys). Looks like things may have taken an unfavourable turn and the pie jokes will have to go back in the warmer for the present time.

 NZ Herald:
Labour MP Parekura Horomia is seriously ill and resting at home with his family.
The Ikaroa Rawhiti MP, 62, is understood to have been unwell for some time, but the cause is not known.
His family issued a statement today requesting privacy and saying he was at his Mangatuna home convalescing.
"The whanau of Hon. Parekura Horomia is very humbled by all the love, support and kind wishes for their grandfather, father, brother and uncle."
A spokesman for Labour said the party was aware of the family's statement "and wish him well at this time."
Mr Parekura was first elected as the MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti in 1999 and is regarded as Labour's 'kaumatua' in Parliament, respected for his widespread links to Maoridom. He was Minister for Maori Affairs between 2002 and 2008.

Not one bad word has been said about Parekura Horomia - which is ironic given how many words of any description Horomia was capable of saying on any topic. Some would say he is a wordsmith, others, just wordy. Regardless of what people may think of the substance or the delivery he is one of parliament's characters and for all his verbosity is one of its best speakers.

The illness means a by-election is virtually certain. Labour will be sounding out candidates and running through scenarios. David Shearer hinted there was some hope of a good Labour candidate to take over from Parekura, so it may be someone parachuted in from left-field. Depending on the candidate of course, Mana should be the main rival to Labour in this seat however, not the hopelessly divided and dwindling Maori Party.

I was at the Mana AGM a few weeks ago but can't recall what was lined up for the electorate. It was an issue though - Horomia's illness and the ramifications were well known for some time. Tawhai McClutchie did not do as well as hoped so I'm not sure his chances are that hot. Mana's East Coast general electorate candidate, Val Irwin, is a better prospect from what I've seen: he's a good communicator in both languages, has whanau connections on that coast and has an interesting back story as a local film star in the 60s. Annette Sykes, Mana president and Waiariki candidate (who ran Te Ururoa Flavell to within 1,900 votes at the least election) is the big gun however should she decide to enter. There may be quite a few people chancing their arm when a by-election is on offer so it is rather early to speculate.

Horomia leaves big gumboots to fill. He retains strong popularity despite challenges. Derek Fox (running for the Maori Party) came the closest to toppling him in 2008 cutting him to a 1,645 majority.

Official Count Results 2011 -- Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
Labour Party9,054HOROMIA, ParekuraLAB10,558
Mana1,754McCLUTCHIE, TawhaiMANA2,484
Māori Party2,736RAIHANIA, NaMAOR4,017


UPDATE 30/04/2013 11:50am

Parekura passed away yesterday afternoon - just shortly after this post was written. Many have said fond things of him. RIP Parekura Horomia.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

TV Review: Pimp my ad

My TV review for The Daily Blog is posted up over there. Drinan has called it ''a strong opinion'' for what it's worth. It's about responding to prostitution on television.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Costs of exploitation

The NZ government - especially, but not exclusively under National - will put the interests of foreign oil companies ahead of the fishing rights and any other rights of the indigenous people every time. It's part of the colonial economy - the basis of the colonial economy. The exploitation of "free" resources (ie. resources confiscated off indigenous people) happens in many countries where the settler-colonists run the state. The exploitation is more obvious when the state forcibly evicts on the land; but on water initiating the confiscation manifests itself in the tresspass needed to enforce it - thus the law change to criminalise protest in the NZ EEZ.

The NZ government authorised the NZ Defence Force - the Royal NZ Navy in the actual instance - to do unlawfully what the new law of theirs now says they can do legally. Sad, but consistent. The use of the military for domestic protest action wasn't much commented on at the time, presumably because it is accepted the NZ Police didn't have the capacity. The precedent for military-police operations domestically stems all the way from before the Land wars to the Northern War most likely - and the latest I can recall is the Bastion Point operation in the 1970s where branches of the military were used. What a lamentable history of oppression. And it continues - a million dollars and a whole taskforce for a guy and his fishing boat. It should have been billed to Petrobras.

NZ Herald:
The Defence Force and New Zealand police were sent to the Raukumara Basin in April 2011 when a protest flotilla led by an East Cape iwi interfered with Brazilian company Petrobras' seismic surveys.
Tauranga fisherman Elvis Teddy was arrested by police, but the charges were dropped because the incident took place outside New Zealand's 12-mile territorial limit.
The High Court overturned this decision, and Energy Minister Simon Bridges introduced an amendment to clarify the law and create new offences covering interference with mining companies on the high seas.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment documents show the Defence Force deployment was estimated to cost $1.08 million, based on the deployment of two patrol vessels and personnel for 40 days.
The direct cost to police was estimated at $585,000, which included sending 12 full-time staff to the region for 42 days.
As a result of the protests, Petrobras had to halt its surveys for nearly two days. It has since handed back its exploration licences for New Zealand waters.
Mr Bridges' law change, which was passed last week, means protesters who intentionally damage or interfere with mining sites or vessels which are outside New Zealand's 12-mile limit risk up to a year in prison, or fines of up to $50,000 for a person or $100,000 for an organisation.
The law also gives police and Defence Force personnel power to board protesters' ships and arrest and detain them.

I wonder how other countries approach these issues? For Greenpeace and local protesters it's facist bully-boy bullshit, but it's also a militarisation of the sea - that's how other countries may view this. We have overlapping EEZ issues with Fiji and Tonga - is NZ going to use this law to enforce NZ claims in their areas?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Joyce: saboteur

With a few wobbly poll results over the weekend a defensive Steven Joyce is running scared over the solid and unifying Labour-Green 'NZ Power' policy launch. It's timing was entirely provoked by the pig-headed Mighty River Power privatisation, so Joyce has only his hand-crafted asset sale programme to thank for that. His hysteria at the thought of lowering costs to consumers and the cries of anguish at the post-announcement slumo of the share price on behalf of the over-valued cartel has not relented. The Nats are sensing danger if the first pou of a coalition house goes in the ground unchallenged. The Tory counter-attack however has been more Dad's Army than anything 21st century. After Bridges called it North Korean, Joyce said it was South Korean. If they can't get their Koreas right, perhaps they should be searching for a new Korea?

From the paraniod Joyce today - fresh from flushing out reds from under his limo after another viewing of 'Good luck and Goodbye' spent sympathising with that awesome Sen. McArthy - he tells us the prompt disclosure by the potential incoming government of their policy to reduce electricity bills... Is to accuse them of 'sabotage' no less.

It's simply economic sabotage .
[A...] cynical and selfish attempt by left wing parties to play politics with the value of NZ's economic assets.


Crying a mighty river on behalf of the foreign interests too. The only thing cynical and selfish is the privatisation of public assets into the hands of the few on a flimsy pretext. The sabotage is a government that would sell off state assets to fund the irrigation schemes to make famers rich instead of paying off the debt like they promised. Everyone knows these things at some level. Those in favour of a Rogernomics-era style fire sale and unrestricted foreign ownership is low. Joyce's bogeyman tactics don't ring true and smack of desperation. By pinning so much on a share float - a show of confidence - it ran the risk of back-firing.

If Joyce is the best the Nats can do they should just bite their lips and take the judgment the market will render rather than flap about condemning the opposition for essentially being responsible and up front.

NZ Herald infographic:
The only main thing missing is the debt. The orthodox move after a float will be for the private shareholders to demand higher dividends - windfall/super dividends of over 100% of profits - and they will raise debt to do it. Borrowing to pay themselves. Looting upon looting.  After they have racked up billions in debt onto the books (which the government as 51% owner is also responsible) and taken all the cream they will then attempt to use that as a reason the commerce commission and the regulators should let them charge above average increases. It is all so predictable.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

TV review

My TV review for The Daily Blog is posted up over there. About public funding for the reality genre.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Power play

The fact that the power companies shares fell and the fact National are so hysterical is because Labour and the Greens co-operating on economic policy is the most tangible sign to the electorate that they are ready to govern. This is the sort of coalition pre-positioning people want to see - albeit hastened by the Mighty River Power privatisation. The Vector CEO thinks it is viable, but the Tories have freaked. Farrar was flipping out. Simon Bridges was saying the spectre of North Korea loomed over the country. Steven Joyce was pretty much lining up dancing cossaks today - saying the fate of South Korea also awaits. His twitter feed:

Steven Joyce ‏@stevenljoyce
Labour-Greens power fans citing Sth Korea example y'day. Chk this: 10% price increases, 4 yrs of losses, shortages...

Value of Contact Energy, Trustpower, & Infratril together down $643M in less than 24 hours. So this idea's not economic vandalism?

@stevenljoyce @NZGreens So minority Contact mum&dad shareholders r just legitimate collateral damage? A truly destructive attitude to NZ economy & jobs   @stevenljoyce Labour/Greens electricity plan wld reduce savings, investment & jobs - & not reduce power prices. Apart from that... --   Joyce seems very concerned about the private companies and their shareholders; not so much about the consumers.   NZ Herald:
Mr Bridges and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the plan amounted to nationalising the electricity industry.
"They may want to return to sort of United Soviet Socialist Republic of New Zealand days but National certainly doesn't," Mr Bridges said.

The Government says Labour and the Greens are trying to sink the Mighty River Power share float with a hastily drafted threat to impose Soviet-style intervention on the electricity market.

However, Labour and the Greens say their plan to regulate wholesale prices is a sound policy used in several American states and will halt rising power costs, cut household power bills by as much as $300 a year and give the economy a $450 million a year boost.
Labour leader David Shearer and Greens co-leader Russel Norman yesterday said that if they won next year's election they would establish a new agency called New Zealand Power which would act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity.
The agency would also have the power to set prices based on generators' operating costs and a fair return on capital. NZ Power would sell power to electricity retailers at prices lower than those on the current wholesale market and those savings would be passed on to consumers.
However, those savings would come at the expense of power companies.
Well, cry me a mighty river.

Although I'm not a big fan of more layers of bureaucracy - esp. when the legislated and regulated divisions of the electricity industry are the cause of the cartel situation - if the end result is lowering the cost to consumers (and business) then what is the net harm? This one act is not going to murder capitalism. The artificiality of the market and the corporations' necessity to create margins and support the middlmen may represent employment and turn-over for their ticket-clipping operation, but they do not enable efficiency. I don't know whether the Power NZ single-buyer concept is the right answer for NZ, but it is that there is a collective answer that counts more. I wonder if NZ First will join in?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Devoy: Job interviews

Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner

She's admitted she didn't apply for the job - she wanted to be the part-time disability commissioner at the Human Rights Commission - but Judith Collins convinced her she could do the Race Relations Commissioner gig. There were 270,000 reasons to say yes - 1,000,000 reasons over the five year appointment. She said she went through about four interviews as part of the process - despite the shoulder-tapping. She has also made it clear she is still learning on the job and is not fully up to speed. The two television interviews I've seen of her confirm this. Not good enough for this pay grade.

First there was Mihi Forbes on Maori TV:
 It was a testy encounter, there were forced smiles and pursed lips.
I've been attacked for having no qualifications so I didn't do any interviews for a while...
 Well, you don't really need qualifications...
 Well you don't need experience either, it's about doing the right thing...

South Africa. Well, you know, the money was good, but I didn't go in the end because of politics, I was only 20...

Overall it showed she was in training, had nothing to say and certainly could not draw on her experiences, and on top of that had been picked for political and gender reasons. If this was a job interview she would have been a very weak candidate.

Then there was John Campbell on TV3:
She was more prepared than with Mihi Forbes, she was spouting the jargon of the HRC like a good puppet.
 Hey, give me a chance, all I need is about five years to get my head around it...
And Maori are like this... Was that patronising enough?

With Campbell, a week later, she had been transformed into a more fully indoctrinated bureaucrat - something Collins had suggested was the opposite of why she was appointed. Where had all that red neck common sense gone? What was the point of putting in a straight shooter if she turns out to be towing the politically correct party line after a few weeks? Collins may have been disappointed by her apparent co-option into the chattering liberal clique, but her sudden change lends no more credibility to her having got the job. If Devoy had tanked on Maori TV, her interview with Campbell didn't go any better. She was obviously not up to it. She hasn't demonstrated the depth of comprehension needed, or the personal mana the position needs to bring racial tolerance, harmony and conciliation. People will not take her seriously.


The Stats NZ CPI quarterly statement:
The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent in the March 2013 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. There were increases for cigarettes and tobacco, food, rents and newly built houses, petrol, and prescription medicines. These were countered by seasonally lower international travel prices, better value telecommunication services, and widespread discounting for furniture, appliances, and audio-visual equipment. [...] The falls for furniture and audio-visual equipment were influenced by widespread discounting.
Annually, the CPI increased 0.9 percent in the year to the March 2013 quarter, due to increased prices for [...]

What the press release doesn't mention is the relationship that inflation has with the RBNZ, ie. the target inflation figure - the basis for measuring the performance of the independent central bank - is between one and three percent. The RBNZ Governor is in breach of his performance standards if the CPI continues outside of the band for any continued period of time (the exact period is kept vague, but more than a year would be pushing it). The last four quarters of year-on-year inflation were: 1.0%, 0.8%, 0.9%, and now 0.9% again.

It's almost impossible that the new RBNZ Governor would be sacked for under-shooting - at least at this early point in his tenure - but the question is worth asking: what would it take?

New Policy Targets Agreement signed today

Date 20 September 2012

Finance Minister Bill English and incoming Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler today signed a new Policy Targets Agreement, which sets out specific targets for maintaining price stability.

The new Policy Targets Agreement takes effect on 26 September, when Mr Wheeler starts his five-year term as Governor.

The agreement continues to require the Reserve Bank to keep CPI inflation between 1 per cent and 3 per cent on average over the medium term.

Within this target, the new agreement now requires the Bank to focus on keeping future average inflation near 2 per cent.
Mr Wheeler says the new PTA remains focused on maintaining price stability, as well as avoiding unnecessary instability in economic output, interest rates and the exchange rate.

“The focus on the 2 per cent midpoint will help better anchor inflation expectations,” he says.


That's heading towards a big fail at present, though the spike when they upped the GST rate (4.5% for year ending 03/2011) will bring that long term average closer to 2%.

The information itself as broken down shows discounting is having an impact - this confirms that consumer austerity persists and that demand is still suppressed. The high NZ dollar is probably doing the most to lower inflation: keeping a lid on petrol and import prices. That is a double-edged economic sword as exporters are not slow in pointing out.

NZ is just coasting along, plateauing in the great global financial unwind, waiting for a pick up in our trade partners' growth, but the government does not seem to be doing anything substantial or proactive to stimulate internal demand or stimulate export production - it certainly isn't spending any more money (unless you include the crony deals with Chorus/Telecom with UFB, the trucking and roading interests, bailing out private schools etc.).

The underlying risk for NZ and other similarly indebted nations is that inflation is a sleeping giant and that stability of the currency value internally depends on stability in the foreign exchange and that if the latter weakens the former will awake.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

! Marriage Equality

The marriage redefinition bill (the 'gay marriage' bill) is about to be debated for the final time this evening in parliament. It is expected to pass comfortably as it did at the last stage.
I said at the beginning of the bill's passage that if President Obama had not said he was in favour and had John Key then not echoed it immediately Louisa Wall's bill would have been marginal at best. What were civil unions then? - being the obvious question. Same sex couples already have legal equality through changes to the Matrimonial Property Act and the Civil Union Bill amongst others, The equality issues and what the redefinition of marriage will mean has been cast in so many rainbow scarves and accompanied by so many chants of 'love' from one side and so many bashing Bibles and cries of damnation on the other that it appears to be more of a convenient political battleground for liberal versus conservative than a remedy to overcome actual discrimination. The pro and anti campaigns don't seem to be too fussed about specifics, both seem to want to paint in broad brush strokes. Love v God, Equality v Sanctitity.

The crux is that homosexuals seek legitimisation of their sexuality. Wanting to be normal and taken seriously is a universal impulse, and that cannot be achieved in a society of homophobes. So they campaign, they are in positions of power and they've got many supporters. An expression of that sexuality is a relationship, so the corollary of this means the relationship be accorded the same social status as.a marriage. This is why civil unions are not enough - it is the anti-marriage, strpped down to the bare legal paperwork. What they are after is the romantic trappings that the word marriage encapsulates. The church, the wedding, the cake, the outfits, the honeymoon, the tradition of marriage is what is being sought. No matter that all of these things are rooted in heterosexual union however. This is the objectionable part for many: that the essence of the marriage bond is a solemnisation of the sex act (whether or not children are an issue) and there is great difficulty that homosexual acts ought to be given the same seal of community approval. With the sterile neologism of civil union these notions don't arise. With equal access and inter-change of marriage and civil unions I was under the impression there was no remaining discrimination. I was wrong.

But it is not equal access to the word marriage and the connotations of the marriage institution only. The bill is a short-cut to changing the adoption law - the outstanding discrimination in favour of the hetero married couple. This could have been done separately, but this is a wider campaign they understandably don't want to confront the individual issues directly or in isolation when they can use the opportunity and window Obama has given them.

Hidden from sight too is what Wall described on Radio Live at the start, She seems to consider that a marriage licence is a right to have children and that marriage implies family. These are the parts of the definition she is pursuing. She has been savvy enough not to raise it again, and that is: one of the consequences of the bill is it will allow same sex couples to have state-funded IVF and fertility treatment. That is what she said on Radio Live. At this point she lost me. She gave the critics old call about 'unnatural' an outing. She was advocating for the unnatural and that is too far even for an athiest. The problem is it is difficult to argue against the bill without being labelled homophobic or assumed to be Christian such are the polarised opinions.

If what Wall, and the LGBTI campaign, are really after with this semantic hijacking is making themselves feel more accepted (at the expense of alienating large numbers of people) and funding scientists to help them have kids they cannot otherwise concieve- ones destined from the outset not to be raised by one of their biological parents - then I can't see the bill as being particularly worthy. After months of debate the proponents of the bill haven't convinced me why the law should be changed. It comes down to, 'it's harmless'. But it's also dumb. Dumb for trying to change a definition like marriage, and going down the slippery slope towards the overtly unnatural. Just change the adoption law instead.

 The bill passed 77 - 44. Hugs all round esp. for Louisa Wall.
The gay community feel validated by the law as now being equal and normal in the same way straight people are. That has been the impression from the commentary tonight. So it is difficult not to also feel that the change will be positive for them and should be supported as such.

...But why should I stop my whining when we've had Kevin Hague saying if you aren't in favour of the bill you are with the Catholics and the bigots? Not helpful. Not much of the vaunted love when they assert that style of hegemony. [And see NRT's post: "Note the "noes". They are bigots and we should be trying to unseat and destroy them at the next election."] I've never heard such banal, disconnected, fluffy and light-weight, sentimental speeches being accorded such superlative applause. Not all, but most were like this (Te Ururoa Flavell explaining the use of the term 'takatapui' to describe a male campanion comparative to gay partner, for example, was informative). Even worse waffle and non-sequitors came from the anti side - they did themselves and their good lord baby Jesus no favours. But I will say this for the hate-mongering homophobes, at least they weren't so self-righteously self-congratulatory. I thought the Fundies were sarcastic, but check out the snarkiness towards them from the pro side. That got irritating when the smugness set in, around about the point the blessed virgin began weeping blood.

High tide at the love-in occured when the hopeless Amnesty NZ and the despised Telecom twittered their support for the bill too. Sure sign of a fad. Everyone in my liberal twittersphere seemed to be solid supporters. Why? Because they are convinced that it is a human rights equality issue. I remain unconvinced that it is, or that any discrepencies (between marriage and civil union) cannnot be sorted out without changing the definition of marriage. The main reason the pro MPs cited in their speeches for support seemed to be as a signal to gay teens that society values them. That's laudable, but should the complex task of self esteem in LGBTI youth be a basis for changing the definition of marriage? Will this bill reduce the self harm? I doubt it. It doesn't matter now, the law is the law.

UPDATE 10:30AM 18/04/2013
Quite a few hangovers from all the partying last night if the twitter feed is any indication. Quite a lot of hating from the talkback Christians this morning too. The Fundies are going feral.

The bill has promted other question s about the legal institution of marriage, like polygamy. Extending the logic it could be argued marriage should be abolished and only civil unions recognised, with multiple partners possible. Marriage then being a private matter. That would be an inclusive and consistent, tidy fix, but then that would really be the destruction of marriage (in the official sense) and the Christians would go beserk and now so would the same sex couples who get married... wed, whatever. Which raises the other question: what about all the other terms associated with marriage? Husband, wife, spouse, bride, groom etc. Once the law starts changing one definition then they have to carry it through in order to make it internally consistent, so that the same esx couple can also use those words too, presumably.

UPDATE 2:00pm
Maurice Williamson's speech has been well-received. Very funny.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bad day at the office

Listening to the PM at parliamentary question time this afternoon on the GCSB appointment. Grant Robertson was asking him how he came to have Ian Fletcher's telephone number. Key replied that he didn't 'have a clue' how that happened. Then - barely half a minute later - he's saying he asked directory services! So... now he does remember how he got it.


Just at that moment on the floor of parliament, under questioning, John Key's on-again/off-again amnesiac episode lapses suddenly into the clarity of remembering. It just occured to him how it happened. A self-confessed clueless PM one moment, and then 30 seconds (and about 30 days) later, bam! Oh , 'that' call. Unbelievable. Incredible. Remarkable.

Well about time he told . Was that so difficult? It shouldn't have been. But in Key's fumbled attempts to preserve 'perceptions' he's lost more than a bit of credibility. He's been caught out again. He's burning off a lot of good will when he gets cute and flippant and decides not to understand straight-forward legitimate questions and covers with fibbing and half-truths. He might be 'relaxed' and 'comfortable' about it, but it's starting to give everyone else the shits.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Auckland plans

To what extent are the Auckland Council's plans really their own when the larger decision on population has been made by central government already? A million people - almost all of whom will be immigrants - are expected to fit into Auckland in the next 20 or so years. Aucklanders seemingly have no say in this - all they can do is try to respond to the influx with the new unitary planning system.

No-one in Auckland has yet thought to tell Wellington that their plan to put a million extra people into Auckland is impractical, costly on many levels and probably unsustainable. Auckland's fate is being decided by Wellington bureaucrats, not Aucklanders. Wellington would never plan to turn itself into an Asian city of course, but does not blanche when advocating it for the 'Northern Gotham' of Auckland.

The NZ Herald editorial:
Auckland's newly promulgated unitary plan has entered a rocky stretch of water called local-body election year. Members of the council and local boards are going to public meetings where they are hearing predictable opposition to the building heights and residential density envisaged for the neighbourhood. A number of the council, mainly on the right, have taken fright. They have put their names to a letter to the Prime Minister asking the Government to slow the plan's progress.
They need to harden up. The people they are hearing at public meetings are probably not a cross-section of their community. They are likely to be older, established residents who dislike change.
One year would surely be ample time for objections and appeals to be heard and decisions made. Developers, builders and - most importantly - home-seekers, should not have to wait three years to know the permitted height, density and design standards for different parts of the city.
We hear constantly from the Government and the council that Auckland has to accommodate another million people within the planning period and that the rate of new house construction is falling well short of the growth in demand. An arid argument of whether that growth should be on the periphery or within existing limits matters less than the need for a decision.

It would be most likely that if the Auckland Council refused to plan for an extra million people and told Wellington to put them somewhere else (and came up with a plan to only take say half or less than a million) that the government - at least a Tory government - would sack the Council and replace them with their own commissioners in the same way they did to the Canterbury Regional Council when they refused to allocate all the water to their farmer constituents. I don't believe Auckland, or any other city for that matter, has any effective control over its own destiny when mass migration is enforced from outside. It would be a task of coping and mitigating rather than planning under the type of scenario the officials envisage.


Sunday, April 14, 2013


At the MANA AGM this morning at Tokoroa.
Beautiful wharenui. Tumeke blogger emeritus, Mr Bradbury, is seated to my left at the media table.
Keen members absorbing the party paperwork at the moment. Annette Sykes is presiding. Hone's keynote speech is expected at 12:30pm.

President, Annette Sykes, says be prepared for protest action in Waikato against MRP privatisation before the government's May budget.

Rangatahi group presents ambitious flaxroots programme of engagement. Rohe reps giving reports. Branches seem quite active. Approx. 120+ in attendence.

Did the speaker just say we should support the Taliban!? Sharp intake of breath... Oh, she meant 'Talley Ban' - a ban on the Talley's businesses... Phew!

'Bomber, Bomber' the chant goes up from the floor. Mr Bradbury is being put on the spot. Greatly appreciated impromtu report. Greatly appreciated didn't join in the waiata.

Hui over. Realise missed remit part earlier in morning and that Hone's remarks earlier was his address. He had changed it to take advantage of the media there. Was too busy taking pictures etc. to recall, except perhaps the news that John Minto (Mana male VP) is thinking of running under Mana banner for Mayor of Auckland.

The Feed the Kids symposium was held the previous day and was well attended from what I heard.

The movement appears to be in a fairly bouyant mood despite being right at the trough of the electoral cycle. All rohe of the organisation were present incl. Sydney braaanch, and the Youth wing.

I missed Matt McCarten's speech too, I understand he may be pushing for the same sort of focus that happened with the Maori Party when they ran candidates in the general electorates in their first election. It bled scarce resources away from the key Maori seats, so they just ran in the Maori seats thereafter. I'm not so sure a party of the people, such as Mana, could ever abandon an entire electoral division - and the biggest by far - and still hold the narrative of a people's movement, Mana tangata katoa. It may be rational on one level to specialise and target to your strengths, but waving the flag is an important task that must have some value and a positive electoral outcome. I'll have to find the data on this.

Overall good vibe - as always. It is a privilege to be in the same waka as some real, old school, veteran activists. Never thought I'd being saying that about Lefties with a Das Capital L, but that's what you get when the alternatives are instruments and apologists for a corrupted, colonialist, crony-capitalist regime.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

TV Review: Media3 and Backbenches return

My TV review is posted up over at
The Daily Blog . This week the return of Media3 and Backbenches.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Margaret Thatcher. Consensus: divisive

 I only know Margaret Thatcher through the media. As a NZ child in the early 80's the only events involving Thatcher that I can recall was the Falklands War and the Brighton Bombing. The general image in NZ, at least from a child's perspective at the time, was of a determined and ferocious leader very much in control - and as such was generally respected, if not admired. She had won a war decisively, survived the IRA attempted massacre of her government, and in one of her first challenges had sorted out the wind-up of Rhodesia. She was The Man.

We are undoubtedly drawn to strong leaders, and from afar it is foreign policy that figures first in our perception rather than their domestic policies. So all the trauma and flak of the miners strikes and the neo-liberal free market reforms in Britain went under my radar: I didn't know, I didn't have an opinion. However as I grew up, and as Thatcher's reign continued, I began to get a clearer, more three dimensional image of who she was and where she was coming from. In this latter period the poll tax riots, distancing themselves from what is now the EU, cosying up to Pinochet, and the consequences of mass unemployment and the closing down of traditional industries became prominent issues marking out the legacy of Thatcherism.
I first formed a negative opinion about Thatcher when she made some remarks as she came out of a Commonwealth meeting that was discussing sanctions on Apartheid South Africa. It wasn't the concurrence she had (and that was held by other conservative governments of white countries including NZ under Muldoon) that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, rightfully imprisoned by the Afrikaaner regime - it was about the effects of the sanctions proposed.

I can't recall the exact comment verbatim; but in her glowering, patronising, tone she said the sanctions - which were about restricting imports of South African gold - wouldn't do anything, would have little effect. I think she said it would be "very, very, very" insignificant. I'm not sure if it was just the way she said it, with that awful intonation of hers like she was scalding and lecturing, but from what she said she was supporting the Apartheid government and was undermining the group's own sanctions. For me that was a turning point. She became a complete hell bitch Nazi from then on. And everything I've seen or read since has confirmed this. She was on the wrong side a lot of the time.

One of the best accounts - OK, only accounts - I've read of Thatcher is from Alan Clark's diaries. He's an absolute acolyte of hers and the sexual-power admiration he frequently cites is equated to Bodicea. He describes a mesmerising figure kept in a bubble of yes-men and how she became detatched, before eventually being done in by her own fickle Cabinet.  She would be rated as one of the most successful British PM's, but also one of the most divisive. Check out the Guardian's articles today:
Tributes pour in for Margaret Thatcher
Parliament recalled from recess as world leaders pay tribute to one of the most divisive figures in modern British politics .
Thatcher's dark legacy has still not disappeared
Days before he died in 2003, Guardian columnist and Thatcher biographer Hugo Young wrote an epitaph for the prime minister who changed Britain forever
Lady Thatcher will be honoured with a funeral of a scale not accorded to a former prime minister since the lavish spectacle of Winston Churchill's state funeral half a century ago – and much of the cost is expected to be borne by the taxpayer.
Downing Street announced that Britain's first female prime minister would receive a ceremonial funeral, with gun carriage, military procession and a service at St Paul's Cathedral, in the style of the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen Mother.
One rung below a state funeral – as normally accorded to sovereigns – a ceremonial funeral requires the consent of the Queen, which has been given. There will be no public lying in state, at Thatcher's own request.
One Whitehall source said: "It will look and feel like a state funeral to all intents and purposes."
Thatcher was understood to fear that a parliamentary bill, which would have to be passed to permit public funds for a state funeral, could prompt a divisive debate.
No, she wouldn't have wanted to be divisive!

Monday, April 08, 2013

And then they confiscated the ocean

The National government's answer to Elvis Teddy winning his court case regarding his "I'm doing a bit of fishing" protest against Petrobras off the East Cape last year has been to put in some amendments to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill so that such protests beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial limits are now to be controlled by the military who will have the power to arrest. No longer will fishing rights come above mineral exploitation - the surveyors and drillers will be protected by NZ law and NZ defence forces and NZ Police. This is the corollary of passing other laws expanding oil and mineral rights. You cannot effect the confiscation if there is no corresponding tresspass - this amendment (put in after the submission process so there will be no formal public response) is the tresspass. This is outrageous, typically outrageous.   This measure is a backlash to the court case, and is designed for essentially domestic protests (Greenpeace is strongly represented in NZ and co-ordinates with locals so should be counted as local). But NZ has potential overlaps with Fiji and Tonga to the north. This legislation may bring us into conflict if NZ permits in the overlap. Bring it on?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

TV Review: Ad Infinitum

My TV Review is posted up over at The Daily Blog . It's all ad hate this week. It's ruining television, but it's becoming the definition of television.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Like our version of a real-life ten year series of M*A*S*H, the good guys bringing sanity amid the madness of war, bringing gender equality, freedom, security and democracy, bringing clean water and schools: that is the NZ public's general understanding of the role of NZ forces in Afghanistan. In the background sits the shadowy SAS and further in the background so as nobody in polite society will raise it directly is the underlying political support NZ gives to the corrupt narco-state of Pres. Karzai. His vote-rigging and subversion of democracy is written off by the West as the price of stability. Stable in the hands of someone who can deal with the West and facilitate their interessts that is to say. Stable in the hands of the Taliban doesn't count. So stability is all relative.

Defence Minister's speech at the flag-lowering ceremony at the Kiwi base in Bamiyan:
''... We leave this province in relative stability and prosperity...''

And ten dead NZDF staff, ten years of job experience for the 3500 living staff, and a hundred or more Afghan refugees iater, what does NZ get out of this foreign deployment? Some extra cred with America that will never be repaid? 'Relative stability'? It's not even safe enough for the local staff employed by NZDF to live in the country anymore according to what the NZ government has conceded. It wouldn't be safe for them or their families anywhere in the whole country, apparently. What sort of a security job do you call that!? Taking these employees as immigrants was not in their contracts and this action seems unplanned and botched. How many other deployments will end in immigration waivers for local staff? This is typically weak. One of the few things a colonial government can give away freely and without any restraint is its citizenship. They can always say NZ is gaining something rather than having anything diminished as a standard response to any criticism - regardless of whether any duty existed or what the moral situation was.

The consequence of NZ sending troops to Vietnam was that NZ was obligated to take some of the refugees that resulted when the North over-ran the South in 1975. These were the first 'boat people'. Another long war in Asia to prop up US interests, another exit with the puppet regime clinging on, and even before the last helicopter has left the embassy in Kabul the NZ government is taking the collaborators as refugees. These costs should have been declared at the outset so we all know what the game is in the real world.

Was Labour's call to enter the war in Afghanistan (in the first place) a good one? It split the Alliance at the time, but Labour was unphased. NZ earnt little from the US that wouldn't have happened anyway. But at the core of the problem is foreign fighters in Afghanistan - just bacause they are NATO doesn't make them OK, they are foreign fighters. Until the foreigners - all of them - are kept out then nothing is solved.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


One does not need a post-graduate understanding of political science to know that the Prime Minister should not be appointing his mates into senior roles in government. That is the sort of conflicted, corrupted, dodginess of a loose and incestuous colonial regime of the past - something most NZers think we have moved beyond. (A story I've heard goes that Dick Seddon was of a habit to make personal appointments of these types: he gave a friend of his a job at the Post Office; but he was illiterate... Seddon's response to the Post Office boss was something like "Well, learn 'em".)

 However the apparatus of patronage - the ability for Ministers, with or without input from officials, to appoint whoever they like to one of the thousands of positions that fall vacant during a term of government - is still a major feature and major problem of the NZ Westminster system.  As with the shoulder-tapping of the woefully under-qualified Susan Devoy for Race Relations Commissioner we see this National government is playing just as fast and loose as any previous administration. And this time it looks like teflon John just got stuck. No plausible deniability with this one.

Did Prime Minister John Key tell the truth over the appointment of spy boss Ian Fletcher? Last week Key was asked by reporters at Parliament: "What part did you play?"
He replied: "Only that the State Services Commissioner came to me with the recommendation. That's normal."
However, today it has emerged Fletcher was not shortlisted for the job to head the Government's foreign spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), and only applied after a phone call from Key.
The prime minister unexpectedly disclosed to Parliament last Wednesday that he had known Fletcher since childhood, and that their mothers were best friends.

This is the Hansard from parliamentary question time 28/03/2013:
12.GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister: Was Ian Fletcher the candidate or one of the candidates named in the report to him from the State Services Commissioner following the panel interviews for the position of Director of the GCSB; if not, who suggested that Mr Fletcher be considered for the position of Director of the GCSB?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a question on notice. There are two specific parts to the question.
Grant Robertson: No, because the second one is “if not”. If the answer is “Yes”, then that’s fine.
Mr SPEAKER: Is the member happy with that answer?
Grant Robertson: I am extremely happy.
Mr SPEAKER: Then we will proceed.
Grant Robertson: Did the Prime Minister accept the first recommendation of the State Services Commissioner for the person to be appointed to the post of Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, following the process begun in May 2011?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: My understanding is yes.
Grant Robertson: Did the Prime Minister either directly or indirectly intervene in the process for the selection of the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The State Services Commissioner has the role of identifying persons who might be suitable for that role, then conducting appropriate discussions with those people, and finally making a recommendation to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister ultimately makes that appointment, and, of course, there were discussions through that process.
Louise Upston: Would the Prime Minister please outline for the House the background of Ian Fletcher?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, I would like to do that. Before being appointed as Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau on the recommendation of the State Services Commissioner, Mr Fletcher was director-general of the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. He performed that role under the state Labor Government at the time. Prior to that, Mr Fletcher was comptroller-general and chief executive of the British Intellectual Property Office. Prior to that, Mr Fletcher was managing director international for UK Trade and Investment, a similar organisation to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The facts are that Mr Fletcher had a strong background that spanned across a number of countries, and he was appointed because he was the best candidate for the job.
Grant Robertson: In the first report from the State Services Commissioner on the recommendation for who should be the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was Ian Fletcher in the top two candidates?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: My understanding is that there were no recommendations in the first report.
Grant Robertson: In the first report, were there two short-listed candidates recommended to the Prime Minister?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: My understanding is that in the first report there were no recommendations for appointment and there were, therefore, no one-to-four rankings supplied.
Key said yesterday that they met a "couple of times" when Fletcher was in Queensland and on no more than a "handful" of occasions between the mid-2000s and his GCSB appointment.
The GCSB job was first advertised in May 2011.
But State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie says he rejected a shortlist prepared by a recruitment company. Rennie and Key agreed to "look elsewhere."
Key then contacted Fletcher about the position.
"[Key] said that if [Fletcher] was interested in the position of Director, GCSB, he would need to go through a process and should call [the former head of the department of prime and Cabinet Sir] Maarten Wevers in the first instance," a statement from Key said.
Fletcher was the only candidate interviewed by a panel made up of Wevers, defence secretary John McKinnon and deputy state services commissioner Helene Quilter.
Rennie said the "panel was unanimous in their view that Mr Fletcher was suitable for appointment".
Key says he disclosed his links to Rennie during the appointment process, and he has defended the process this morning saying there is "nothing untoward or unusual about that".
Fletcher was appointed in September 2011 and took up the position early in February last year.
One of his first jobs was to attend a joint police-GCSB briefing about the raid on Kim Dotcom's rural Auckland mansion.
At that briefing the bureau learned it may have illegally spied on the internet mogul, who is accused by the US of internet piracy.

If we look at other relationships between the spy chief and the leader we see why it is best to keep the two very separate. In Peru, Fujamori was brought down in large part when his spy boss turned against him. Egypt's spy boss has all sorts of damaging things against Mubarak, etc. Rhodesia's spy chief was re-employed by Mugabe which made people think twice about whose side he had been on. There are numerous examples of abuse when the political leader can just ring up the spy chief to get their tap on (and vice versa - where the spy chief can get the leader to cover for their excesses). The last thing you would want is for these two to be mates - it is fundamentally conflicted. This is quite a tarnish for Key's relaxed credibility.

NZ Herald:
Asked today why he hadn't mentioned his phone call to Mr Fletcher about the GCSB job Mr Key said: "I'd forgotten that at that particular time".

He said he had initially brought up Mr Rennie's name during a "brainstorming" session with Mr Rennie after the initial shortlist was rejected. Mr Key said he also called another man whose name came up during that session.
However, he said the phone call to Mr Fletcher "wouldn't make any difference" to his answers about his role as he did not regard it as part of the appointment process.

"In principle the decision to appoint someone to the GCSB is actually a matter for the minister but we ran it through the process because in the end we wanted someone good."
Mr Key referred to Mr Rennie's statement last week in which he said Mr Fletcher's candidacy "was considered in the rigorous process all chief executive candidates are required to undergo".

Mr Rennie had run "a thoroughly professional process" and recommended Mr Fletcher to Mr Key, and "there was nothing usual about that", Mr Key said.
"At the end of the day if Iain Rennie hadn't recommended him and recommended someone else, that would have been great. I would have been more than happy. All I wanted was someone good for that job."
Mr Key said the panel that interviewed Mr Fletcher before he was recommended was aware that he had initially approached Mr Fletcher about the job and knew of their relationship. However he did not accept that the panel would have been influenced by his involvement in soliciting Mr Fletcher's application.

So Key is struck by selective amnesia... again. Key also called "another man" about it - another mate of his obviously. As long as he gets one of his mates in he doesn't care which mate, eh. Is this a situation of Key rejecting people until only his mates are left on the list? And then Key says his pushing of his preferred candidate - his mate from childhood - wouldn't have influenced the panel! This is leaving the realms of credibility and soaring off, high into orbit. No-one - no reasonable person anyway - believes what he is saying. Combine that with the Kim Dotcom Mega Conspiracy mess and the GCSB's activities and this is a rolling maul for the opposition heading straight under the posts.