Oct 31, 2008
Some times it's ugly whatever you do.
The Herald election character poll was just that for Helen Clark this week.
Asked, yesterday, who was the politician most likely to scare little children at Halloween, readers plumped solidly for Helen Clark with a spine-tingling two-thirds of the vote.
The PM was out at the Waitakere business awards this evening so the children of Auckland were not able to test the Herald result.
Trimmer was perfect as Don Quixote. Yu Takayama and Marc Cassidy did well as Kitri and Basilio but the show tonight was probably stolen by Shannon Dawson as the Adolf Hitler look alike Father.
Make sure you attend. It will be in a town near you (even Invercargill!).
Something is in the Dominion Post tomorrow that the Labour-led AXIS hydra team don't like. Our best guess is that it either involves Williams or Peters. Our team was spread from Waitakere (where the PM was) to the opening of the ballet in Wellington tonight (where Jeanette was) and we tell you, those cell phones are running hot and the faces are not looking happy.
Key himself said this week he is considering taking the Tourism portfolio under his wing. This underlined he won’t seek to follow the Muldoon model and also be Minister of Finance. In a Key Cabinet, Bill English is likely to be Minister of Finance and of Infrastructure, and Gerry Brownlee, Leader of the House and Minister of Transport.
Other senior roles would go to Simon Power (Justice and Corrections), Murray McCully (Foreign Affairs), Nick Smith (Environment), Tony Ryall (Health), Judith Collins (Social Development), Anne Tolley (Education) and Phil Heatley (Housing). Tim Groser (Trade), Chris Finlayson (Attorney-General, Treaty Negotiations), and Wayne Mapp (Defence) are logical choices. Lockwood Smith could also expect to be a Minister, despite his recent stumble on the campaign trail. Maurice Williamson might not be so lucky. Some of the 2005 intake (Craig Foss, Chester Bowles, Jonathan Coleman, Chris Tremain, and Nathan Guy) will be in the running, and newcomers Steven Joyce and Hekia Parata are regarded as top contenders.
Maori Affairs might be offered to Pita Sharples if National manages to reach an accommodation with the Maori Party: otherwise Georgina Te Heu Heu and Tau Henare will be involved. Maori co-leader Tariana Turia with her scrap-the-dole policy could expect a role in the welfare area if she wants it.
What did the winning party receive in previous MMP elections?
Even the most gloomy of poll results suggest that national is going to break all records.
Trans Tasman yesterday reported that National's support was firming up 2-3 points on where it was when the last polls came out on the weekend. We hear the same. And the backfiring of the neutron bomb might have caused even more support to flow to National. This factor won't really have time to flow through into any polls this weekend. But it will flow through onto 8 November and the special voting that is underway.
The Green/Labour nexus is also interesting. The Greens were rising strongly, then they announced they were going with Labour. Support fell away back close to 5%. We hear it is rising again. This will be at the cost of Labour.
Labour are in real trouble. How will they react? Already Anderton has gone out trying to raid the wasted NZ First 3%. Labour is also actively courting this demographic.
Will the Greens want to stay hitched to Labour?
Can National come close to emulating 1951 (the only election that National has contested where any party managed to achieve 50% support)?
It is going to be a fascinating final 8 days?
Progressive leader Jim Anderton made an unorthodox and brazen pitch to the elderly yesterday for New Zealand First voters to back him.
He made the bid on the basis that the New Zealand First leader Winston Peters might not be re-elected to Parliament after a series of inquiries into donations to his party.
Mr Anderton told Nelson Grey Power that many older New Zealanders had swapped their support between the pair of them.
They recognised that both had strong policy on the concerns of senior citizens, especially superannuation, healthcare and power costs.
"But you have to ask yourself whether you are sure New Zealand First will be back.
"Even if you think Mr Peters is completely vindicated, you will have to accept there is a chance he won't be returned.
"I think after nine terms, I will be."
That beaming, best-dressed polly with the clear, adamant, defiant answers when his word was questioned suddenly moved from loveable rogue to ratbag caught with his pants down, and fibbing like a seven year old stuck up the neighbour's plum tree. The Winston saga has been the saddest thing to happen to New Zealand politics for a long time.
The guy we used to know for his so-called independence and staunch defence of the old and the poor was actually a bullshitter and an ugly one. A bad tempered and bullying one. Much worse than most of thenm clawing their way up the taxpayer funded, chauffeured limo, the free pad and the servants. Watching him trying yet again to explain away his dubious ministerial antics as our foreign minister is a pathethic sight.......
Somebody close to Winston should take him gently by the hand and lead him quietly off the stage.
China raised the price of its co-operation in the world's climate change talks yesterday by calling for developed countries to spend 1 per cent of their domestic product helping poorer nations cut greenhouse gas emissions. The funding - amounting to more than $300bn based on Group of Seven countries - would be spent largely on the transfer of "green" technologies, such as renewable energy, to poorer countries.
--Geoff Dyer and Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 29 October 2008
The new U.S. president will be under pressure from industry not to jeopardise US finances. Under China's proposals, the US would have to give more than $130bn and the European Union more than $160bn to technology transfer.
--Geoff Dyer and Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 29 October 2008
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday complained that the western nations have not lived up to their commitments for technology transfer and additional financing since the Rio Conference in 1992. "We should call upon our European partners to do more in this regard. The developing world is committed to doing its share," Singh said.
--The Times of India, 25 October 2008
As a result of promoting environmental alarmism, Western governments find themselves trapped in a perilous, yet largely self-constructed catch. As long as climate change is elevated as the principal liability of industrial countries, as long as Western CO2 emissions are blamed for exacerbating natural disasters, death and destruction around the globe, green pressure groups and officials from the developing world will continue to insist that the West is liable to recompense its exorbitant carbon debt by way of wealth transfer and financial compensation. Unless the industrial nations are prepared to sacrifice a substantial fraction of their wealth and economic stability, it is extremely unlikely that a new climate treaty will be agreed upon in the foreseeable future. While rich countries will put the blame squarely at the door of their Asian competitors, much of the rest of the world is likely to point the finger at Western greediness and intransigence. In this way, the global warming scare is creating a lose-lose situation for the West which is causing lasting damage to its standing, influence and economic strength.
--Benny Peiser, Financial Post, 8 April 2008
The Italian government on Tuesday said it would stick to its opposition to an EU climate plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020, saying it would be too harmful for industry. "This would be untenable for our production, particularly in light of the current global economic crisis," it said.
--Reuters, 28 October 2008
I fear that the Climate Change Bill will end in political tears, when the targets are missed stratospherically, when the lights go out in the UK, when our economic competitiveness is undermined, and when the climate fails to behave as predicted by our politicians. If and when these outcomes occur, the electorate should not be generous. They must hold the sheep to account as lambs to the slaughter.
--Philip Stott, Global Warming Politics, 28 October 2008
Investors in renewable energy stocks have seen their sector hit hard in recent weeks on concerns that tightening credit and a weak global economy could arrest growth of the high-flying industry despite its long-term promise. Solar stocks, considered the darlings of alternative energy for their meteoric rise in 2007, have retreated so much this year that most have given back the triple-digit gains they logged last year.
--Reuters, 29 October 2008
European carbon prices collapsed to their lowest levels for 18-months on Monday as the market was flooded with industrial sellers from across Europe.
--Point Carbon, 27 October 2008
If there is any justice in our electoral system, voters will farewell Winston Peters on November 8 and the latest disclosures concerning him need not disturb us much longer.
On the matter of undeclared donations channelled through his lawyer's accounts he did, it turns out, try to set up the diplomatic post sought by Owen Glenn, whose donation he still insists he knew nothing about.
And on the matter of the party's misspent election funds, which he has refused to return to the public purse, it turns out he has put half the owed amount into a trust in the name of the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA assault victim Susan Couch who seems to be neither a trustee nor a listed beneficiary.
The trustees are Mr Peters' lawyers, including "blood brother" Brian Henry, who has taken Susan Couch's case against the Corrections Department.
It would have been bad enough had Mr Peters simply handed the money to her.
But questions of compensation or legal aid are not for Mr Peters to decide in his high-handed way with public money.
He has searched high and low for someone to accept the money that ought, on an Auditor General's ruling, to be paid back to Parliament.
Other parties accepted the ruling though they liked it no more than Mr Peters, and made restitution to the taxpayer. He tried to palm it off to the Starship Foundation at the Auckland City children's hospital, which thought better of accepting it, as did other charities.
Susan Couch deserves better than to have her name used for his purpose now. And the public deserves better than to have its sympathy manipulated for Mr Peters' political satisfaction.
He derives a perverse pleasure from refusing to do what is expected, whether it is answering a straight question, declaring a corporate donation or accepting an adverse financial ruling as ordinary taxpayers have to do.
That perverse streak, evident throughout his long career, has been his downfall this year. It caused him to flourish a silly sign in denial of the Glenn donation, and it rendered him incapable of simply explaining publicly the nature and purpose of the "Spencer Trust" through which wealthy friends such as Sir Robert Jones and the Vela brothers of racing fame were advised to contribute to his party.
Now it turns out that as Foreign Minister he was urging the appointment of an honorary consul in Monaco, a title sought by Mr Glenn.
Mr Peters continues to insist that when he did this he had no knowledge that Mr Glenn had given Mr Henry $100,000 towards the cost of Mr Peters' legal fees. He invites us to believe he was pushing Mr Glenn's cause from the kindness of his heart.
The case has been exhaustively examined by the privileges committee. The country is weary of it and weary of him. In just eight days he should be gone.
So the two major parties are instead playing the political equivalent of poker by constantly raising the stakes by coming up with bigger and better rescue plans for the economy and assistance packages for those who will lose their jobs.
Labour yesterday promised an income-tested job search allowance equivalent to the unemployment benefit for up to 13 weeks for someone whose partner is working and who has been in the workforce for at least five years.
The move was a pre-emptive strike ahead of National's release today of its "transitional assistance" package, which will provide similar time-limited grants for those laid off.
National's initiative was designed to outmanoeuvre Labour which had previously gone one better than National by indicating it would bring forward "job rich" infrastructure construction projects to soak up the expected increase in unemployed.
Closer scrutiny reveals that Labour's redundancy help package is far less generous than appears at first sight. But you get the picture. Neither party is prepared to surrender ground.
Do you think that the PM knew as little about this smear attempt as she is now claiming? We don't.
Do you think that this cock-up by Mike Williams et al is going to be the final nail in the coffin for the Labour-led Axis Government? We do.
The Press today reveals that tax payer funds were used in the attempted smear. And the Labour Party funded Mike Williams travel to Melbourne - something Rt Hon Helen Clark PM of New Zealand for the last 9 years deined. This election is about trust don't forget.
Labour is trying to avoid the fallout from the so-called "H-bomb" it has dropped on John Key as it emerges taxpayer funds have been used in the attempt to find dirt on the National Party leader.
Labour leader Helen Clark and party president Mike Williams were at odds yesterday over who paid for him to fly to Melbourne to trawl through 13,000 pages of court documents relating to the trial of Equiticorp bosses over fake foreign transactions 20 years ago.
Key worked for one of the companies that helped finance the deal but was not involved in the transactions.
The $100 million-plus transactions, which saw former Equiticorp boss Alan Hawkins jailed, were known as the "H-Fee". Labour Cabinet minister Trevor Mallard has referred to the matter as the "H-bomb" that Labour planned to drop on Key.
However, the bomb appeared to have backfired, after Labour was unable to find any smoking gun in the documents, despite Williams bringing 24kg of documentation back to New Zealand.
The court documents showed that Key was working at Elders Finance when one of the illegal transactions took place, despite Key previously saying he left a month beforehand.
Key said on Wednesday that he was unaware of the transaction when he made his comments last year.
It emerged yesterday that Labour used its taxpayer-funded research unit to trawl through the documents, and also that its chief campaign strategist, senior MP Pete Hodgson, was also working on the story with Williams.
Williams told TVNZ last night that the Labour Party had funded his trip to Australia a claim at odds with Clark's version of events.
Oct 30, 2008
Anyway here is Lloyd's message. If you agree pass it on.
New Zealand lacks a common purpose. No one knows exactly what we want. We hanker for a return to the times when we were one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We want everyone to be better off, knowing that individual wealth does not result in freedom from crime and the social fallout of excessive disparity. However, there is no clearly articulated goal we are pursuing and no solid plan of how we can get there.
As a result, there is no definition or accountability for policies or policy-makers. Policies are often clothed with loose positive objectives and ultimately ineffective aims. There is no co-ordinated accountability for these policies (or politicians) in terms of their ability to contribute towards a common measurable outcome. Consequently, we continue our steady decline. As the attached analysis shows, current forecasts have our GDP per capita slipping below Kazakhstan and Botswana by 2025.
I’ve been discussing this with colleagues and friends, and we believe that NZ needs to embrace a common objective that will provide the means to deliver what we are seeking as a nation.
Whatever the objective chosen, it needs to be simple, clear, measureable, understandable, aspirational and, most importantly, catalytic in terms of driving positive change that makes the outcome achievable.
We’d like to stimulate a broader discussion over what that goal should be for NZ. To kick-off the debate, here’s our starter for ten: NZ should aim to be back in the top 10 countries in the world based on GDP per capita by 2025. Not just the OECD, the world. Unachievable? No way. Ireland, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan all achieved the required level of growth over the last twenty years. It will take real collective commitment and more creative thinking about our economy – but that’s exactly what an ambitious goal will generate.
I’m hoping you’ll participate in a broader discussion about an aspirational, measurable goal for New Zealand. Please read the attached document. Pass it on to your friends. Participate in the debate by emailing email@example.com or contributing to the forum on www.blog.nzx.com. If you agree with what we’re proposing, show your support. If you don’t, please share your ideas for a national goal. Together, let’s take the first step in defining and delivering a better future for New Zealand.
Labour’s so-called “neutron” bomb, designed to blow apart John Key’s bid to become PM, turned out to be a real fizzer. The plan, which had the active support of Labour’s hierarchy, was to indict Key as a main player in the notorious H-fee scam, which landed the failed Equiticorp’s boss Allan Hawkins in jail in 1992. Months of investigation culminating in Labour Party President Mike Williams flying to Melbourne to trawl through 11,000 pages of Court records ended in a dead-end, as former Serious Fraud Office boss Chas Sturt declared there was “not a scintilla” of evidence linking Key to the sham currency deal. National labelled Labour’s moves as “scraping the bottom of the barrel.” The extraordinary lengths Labour went to search records involved sending research unit staff, and then party president Mike Williams, to Melbourne, but when the effort blew up in their faces, party spokespeople suddenly switched off their phones, as the main culprits ran flat out from the scene.
Here is the first para of the TT story
Senior Ministers are becoming increasingly concerned at the drift between Canberra and Wellington over major policy as the Rudd Govt charts its own course without bothering to consult. This has already been most evident in coordination over the response to the global economic crisis.
This is further evidence of NZ First's dire financial situation now that its dodgy funds raising methods have been exposed and donors have gone running.
But it is worse, much worse. This bomb has not only fizzed for the media, we believe it has blown up in Labour's face.
We now have the image of a desperate Labour Party President and a team of researchers flying accross the Tasman to dig dirt, and the dirt they found turns out to be wrong. Pathetic.
No wonder Helen Clark is backtracking like crazy.
Prime Minister Helen Clark distanced herself, saying: "This is not a story I am handling at all."
And no wonder Peter Hodgson, the Minister deputed to take the flack was looking decidedly green around the gills when we saw him yesterday.
When looking back at why they lost this election so badly many in Labour will be wondering why Helen Clark didn't get rid of Mike Williams when she had the chance.
Well done NZ Herald
Here is the NZ Herald front page lead article....
Oct 29, 2008
Enhancing ties and promoting free-trade agreements with Pacific and Asian nations are features of National's Foreign Affairs and Trade policies announced today.
To view National's Trade policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/trade_policy.pdf
Foreign Affairs spokesman Murray McCully says New Zealand should chart its own course in international affairs and that National will continue to move to embrace bipartisanship in foreign policy.
"The Foreign Affairs and Trade policies strongly reflect the content of the discussion documents released last year, which received widespread support.
"A country of our size can't operate with different agencies in their own silos around the world, and that's why National will require agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, NZ Trade & Enterprise, and Tourism NZ to co-operate to adopt a 'NZ Inc' approach in international markets.
"While also building on key bilateral relationships, such as those with Australia, we also need to further strengthen our relationship with the US, increase the level of discussions with our neighbours in the South Pacific, and build on relationships with Asian countries.
"This policy commits National to increasing the focus of our growing aid budget on the Pacific, where New Zealand has its greatest responsibilities and can make the greatest difference."
Mr McCully says there needs to be a strengthening of the oversight of terrorist groups and their money-laundering activities, which Labour has ignored. National will also: • Ensure that the nuclear-free legislation remains in place. • Put a high priority on liberalising trade with the US through the P4. • Review NZ's network of overseas posts to ensure there is a focus on key countries and key markets. • Maintain current and future aid spending levels laid out in Budget 2008. • Ensure that terrorist groups and their financing operations are properly identified and designated.
Boosting New Zealand's export performance lies at the heart of National's trade policy, says Trade spokesman Tim Groser.
"There is unmistakable evidence, country by country and company by company, that higher rates of productivity are associated with higher rates of exports, and that's what New Zealand needs right now.
"The next National Government will set aspirational goals.
"We will look to increase the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% - one of the lowest in the OECD – to 40%.
"We will do this by making the progression of multilateral negotiations through the World Trade Organisation our top trade priority, ensuring that we are actively involved in bilaterial and regional free-trade negotiations, and that government agencies work overseas hand-in-glove on putting support of exporters first.
"National also recognises that the really big drivers of our export performance are domestic policy instruments, and that if we have inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of skills, and rising compliance costs then we will not be able to lift our export game."
National will also: • Require NZTE to adopt far less bureaucratic procedures to grant-making, and put more emphasis on 'offshore' activities and less on 'onshore' activities. • Contract out more of the grant-making to local business associations/agencies. • Focus on exporter education programmes.
To view National's Foreign Affairs policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/foreign_affairs_policy.pdf To view National's Trade policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/trade_policy.pdf
But what is interesting is the collusion that this joke reveals about Labour and NZ First? How did Winston know that an attempt to smear John Key was in the wind? Because he is donkey deep in the muck raking? And it has all the hallmarks of someone who thinks that conspiracy theories have traction with the electorate.
So what is this about? It is about an attempt by the Labour President and Leader to distract attention away from the increasingly serious hard facts emerging over what Labour knew about Winston, and about Labour's own commitments to Owen Glenn over the money for honours scandal. Yes, Labour didn't give him the Consulship but they gave him a gong - is that alright with joe and jane average New Zealand? No bloody way.
If John Key is doing anything wrong by being employed by a company that also employed some people that did something wrong 20 years ago when he was 26 then our standards are slipping. John key was not involved in these transactions. So where is the problem?
This will be a good test of the media's objectivity and professionalism?
We think that Labour is about to see this blow up in their faces. Clearly they are panicking. If this is the best they can do we now know the election result.
"There are many opportunities for New Zealand to forge ahead – provided we take a focused co-ordinated approach to our international activities. "That's why I believe there would be an obvious role for me to use the office of Prime Minister to pro-actively advance the cause of the New Zealand brand by leading our marketing activities. "As part of that I will ensure that all our international agencies, be they Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, all work more closely together, effectively as the external arm of "NZ Inc'. "I will be seeking a strong cross-agency focus on marketing New Zealand in all the major markets we operate in.
National Party Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says Owen Glenn was still expecting a job as the honorary consul to Monaco as recently as May. "If Helen Clark really shut it down in February, and if Winston Peters really hasn't pushed it along since November, why was Mr Glenn still inquiring about the position in May?"
Mr Brownlee says a letter dated May 8 was published in the New Zealand Herald and opened with the words: 'Further to our discussions regarding the Honorary post for Consulate General in Monaco for New Zealand, please be advised that I am returning to Monaco next week and will continue to be a resident of the Principality until further notice'.
"So, if Helen Clark really shut the process down in February, as she claims, and if Mr Peters had really abandoned his personal push for Mr Glenn to be appointed in November as he claims, why didn't they tell Mr Glenn it was not going to happen?"
Emails released yesterday reveal that the consul role was due to be discussed in New Zealand during Mr Glenn's February visit. "Mr Glenn's comment in May comment about 'returning to Monaco' and his pledge to 'continue to be a resident of the principality until further notice' would appear to be an effort to address Foreign Affairs concerns about his suitability for the role."
The New Zealand Herald also reports a cryptic comment from the May 8 letter that Mr Glenn would 'look forward to receiving from you further details on the projects that you brought to my attention'. "What were those projects and did Mr Peters ever get back to him?"
Mr Brownlee says the letter also provides some difficulty for Helen Clark because she claimed to have told Mr Glenn in February to forget the job. "How could Mr Glenn get that so wrong? Not only did Helen Clark know about the donation, but she also knew about also the consul application. Yet she still chose to stay silent when Mr Peters held his infamous 'NO' media conference. "Helen Clark's continued confidence in Mr Peters as a Minister in her Cabinet demonstrates she is desperate. It's time to draw a line in the sand."
This is no doubt why the PM is saying - with regard to Winston Peters - that nothing wrong was done because no appointment was made. However it is quite clear from the e-mail exchanges that if it had not been for MFAT's professionalism an appointment would have been made.
Details on the Owen Glenn comments can be found here.....
Remember this election is all about trust.
Anyway here is Fran's idea
The collapse of the New Zealand dollar has burst the air of surrealism clouding the election campaign.
At issue now is not just who wins the election but whether they have the brains, know-how and sheer chutzpah to avoid a full-on currency crisis.
The NZ dollar is already worth 40 per cent less than its peak value in US currency just months ago. The "smart money" got out when the dollar was peaking around the US80c mark.
Now that AXA and other funds are freezing redemptions - while the Reserve Bank and Treasury try to come up with a Government guarantee scheme to keep financial pipelines open - the crisis has entered a new phase.
The upshot is there will be huge pressures on the next Government. Looking over the political candidates, my judgment is that neither main party has sufficient high-quality, financially-numerate MPs to form the "wartime style" Cabinet which will be necessary to steer New Zealand through a lengthy period of instability.
The logical answer is for National and Labour to form a grand coalition in the country's interest instead of flaying about trying to meet the unreal demands of minor parties.
There are stellar players in the senior ranks of both parties: Labour has Helen Clark (unparalleled experience at the international political level), Michael Cullen (he is managing the vital shift to a saving culture), Phil Goff (good foreign affairs and trade track record) and David Cunliffe (former investment banker).
National has John Key (former international markets manager), Bill English (former Finance Minister and Treasurer), Tim Groser (former WTO negotiator) and Chris Finlayson (legal brain).
If those eight people formed a high-level bipartisan attack team to drive a response to the international financial crisis - rather than tear each other apart while the economy worsens - they would quickly find they had more points of agreement than is obvious on the campaign trail.
If that is just too hard a task for the politicians to consider in the heat of an election campaign, the least they could do is start thinking about appointing an independent Council of Economic Advisers to champion NZ's real interests after a post-election Government is formed.
The Scottish Government did just that last year by appointing 11 people from the senior ranks of business and economics to a council which is claimed to sport "the most formidable intellectual firepower ever to have tackled Scottish economic underperformance".
This is a smart way of making sure the best brains are applied to major national issues - not just current officials and politicians.
Further embarrassment heaped on Winston Peters. More worry and discomfort for Helen Clark. Further vindication for John Key.
The Owen Glenn voodoo strikes again. Just when Peters thought he had finally put Glenn behind him, the expatriate business tycoon returns to haunt him 10 days before the election.
Peters gave every impression during last month's privileges committee hearings that, as Foreign Minister, he had resisted Glenn's request to be appointed New Zealand's honorary consul to Monaco. Peters said it was never a runner; it was never going to happen.
It didn't happen. However, it now turns out from Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents that Peters was actually pushing hard for Glenn's appointment - against officials' advice.
Peters has been caught out. He cannot simply dismiss the papers as being "more stale than Colin Meads' football boots". Owen Glenn donated $100,000 to Peters and NZ First. Peters subsequently put Glenn's name forward for the Monaco appointment.
The Prime Minister was so concerned about Winston Peters' lobbying for Owen Glenn to become honorary consul to Monaco that she told the Foreign Affairs Ministry to let her know if it happened again, the Herald understands.
Her concerns were heightened after she met Mr Glenn in February, when he told her he had made a big donation to Mr Peters.
But it was never raised again by Mr Peters, the New Zealand First leader, with his ministry.
The release yesterday of heavily censored documents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the appointment have put the spotlight back on the donations affair that has dogged Mr Peters since July.
The documents - emails and reports - show Mr Peters wanted Mr Glenn to get the position, contrary to the impression he has tried to give, and was frustrated at the process and the time it was taking for the Ambassador to France to check him out.
National leader John Key yesterday called Peters "a walking soap opera" and said he would not be distracted by having Peters in a Cabinet "bumbling from one saga to another".
He toughened his stance on Peters, saying in Christchurch that not only would he not have Peters in Cabinet, he would not even offer a policy concession in return for support on confidence and supply.
"I don't want to have a working relationship with Winston Peters and New Zealand First," Key said.
"I'm not going to have Winston Peters and his scandals constantly bogging us down."
Peters refuses to accept that a deal with National is not possible.
"I think that in a few days John Key will be working with anyone," Peters said.
Key said Peters was saying that simply to try to drum up votes.
"He's telling his voters that because he wants to give the impression that we are going to form a government with him. We're not," Key said.
Last night, TV3 released a poll showing that while 49 per cent of voters did not want Key to work with Peters under any circumstances,
Spot on John!
Update: Thanks to a good interview by Shaun P and OK follow up comments by Brent Edwards we feel that Morning Report redeemed itself this morning.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has admitted she scotched Winston Peters' attempts to appoint Owen Glenn as honorary consul to Monaco after hearing the billionaire had given her foreign minister $100,000.
The revelation late yesterday came as Clark sought to distance herself from a fresh scandal enveloping the New Zealand First leader over his dealings with Glenn and the businessman's bid for a diplomatic post.
Papers released under the Official Information Act yesterday to TVNZ show Peters was involved in trying to get Glenn appointed as New Zealand's honorary consul to Monaco.
Peters has maintained that he had little to do with Glenn's unsuccessful bid to be appointed as honorary consul in his adopted home.
But email correspondence between officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows Peters pushed the case hard and gave his department a hurry-up for not moving fast enough on the appointment, asking New Zealand's Ambassador in France to meet urgently with Glenn in Monaco about the role.
The correspondence, during 2007, came a year after Glenn had donated $100,000 towards Peters' legal expenses in the Tauranga electoral petition, which Peters denied knowing about until July this year.
A parliamentary privileges committee inquiry censured him last month for not declaring the donation.
Clark said last night there was no issue because no appointment had been made.
She revealed she had blocked the proposal because of the possibility that money was involved.
"For my part, once I had heard there had been a donation I didn't think it would be appropriate," she said.
A spokesman confirmed Clark had formally axed the proposal once Glenn told her when they met in February that he had donated money to Peters.
This election is all about trust!
From today's Dominion Post
Winston Peters instructed senior Foreign Affairs Ministry staff to investigate making billionaire Owen Glenn honorary consul to Monaco, raising doubts about his insistence Mr Glenn was not actively considered for the role.
Mr Peters scoffed at Mr Glenn's claims in February that he had been promised the largely ceremonial, but prestigious, post.
But papers made public under the Official Information Act show Mr Peters, the foreign affairs minister till he was stood down in August, told ministry chief Simon Murdoch in April last year that he wanted Mr Glenn appointed.
It is understood Prime Minister Helen Clark became so concerned about his lobbying that she ordered the ministry to refer any further approaches directly to her.
Her intervention came after Mr Glenn told her in February that he believed he had given money to NZ First. At that time, Mr Peters denied receiving cash from Mr Glenn and rubbished suggestions the expatriate shipping billionaire was in line for the Monaco post.
Oct 28, 2008
Watch this from One News
If Winston had read these e-mails they wouldn't have got the $600 million!! And Moore-Jones wouldn't have got Madrid!
But they are most interesting in what they saay about Winston's honesty.
Well done TVNZ and well done PM Clark for finishing off Winston.
We assume the following outcome from the election – in seats – in an 124 seat parliament:
United Future 1
Maori will have a choice between joining, supporting or abstaining from confidence votes on the new Government. We do not think Maori will join Labour next time around. This analysis assumes that they decide to join or support.
So if we were John Key what would we do?
First we would restore the Westminster model. We would have a smaller Cabinet supported by more “junior Ministers”. The Junior Ministers would not be part of Cabinet but would be active in Cabinet Committees. The use of Junior Ministers would allow those without experience in the Executive to gain it fast, allow those who might be contemplating retirement to be put to good use, and serve as a proving ground for up and comers.
We would also beef up the advisory group in DPM&C so that the PM and senior Ministers can get all the help they need to get NZ through the next few years.
We would take on the Treasurer role ourselves to show strong leadership on the financial crisis.
We would make Bill English coordinating Minister of Infrastructure (we would call it Infrastructure and Commerce), Minister of Finance and give him a portfolio like Education – which he handled very well as spokesman. He would clearly need support from Ministers of Transport, Telecommunications and a couple of Deputy Ministers of Finance and maybe an Associate Education.
Brownlie would be a great Leader of the House and could work with Nick Smith in the Energy, Minerals, Climate Change, Conservation space
Simon Power would be a great coordinator of work around Police, Corrections, Internal Affairs etc.
Health is hugely important. Ryall is the obvious choice
Judith Collins, perhaps with help from Turiana Turia would be very busy with Social Development, and Pita Sharples would be a great Minister of Maori Affairs. Neither Pita nor Turiana would need to be in Cabinet if they didn't want to be.
McCully is clearly well prepared to be Foreign Minister but he would a be a great person to sort our problems in areas such as Broadcasting. Science and technology/ R&D are also in a mess an need someone like McCully to sort out.
We would offer Hide Defence.
Wayne Mapp could be asked to sort immigration out. This will be a huge job. Maybe it could be merged with the Documents of National Identity bit of Internal Affairs???
Finlayson is obvious for Justice, Treaty Negotiations and the Arts
Groser is obvious for Trade, including Trade Promotion. We would also make use of his negotiating skills in other areas - a new Bretton Woods is obvious. He might be helpful on Climate Change also - should anything be happening on this in the next three years.
Peter Dunne would stay on in Revenue.
Carter is an obvious for Agriculture supported by Ministers of Forestry and Fisheries.
Someone also need to be asked to reform Local Government. This can be done from outside Cabinet. Roger Douglas anyone?
What about Lockwood? We would recognise his years of experience in Parliament by making him Speaker.
And Richard Worth? He has a great legal mind. Focus it on regulation and give him a Ministerial responsibility for one of the parts of the new Ministry of Infrastructure and Commerce. He can start by writing new Overseas Investment Legislation
A Clark/Winston Peters/Russel Norman/Jeanette Fitzsimmons/Anderton AXIS Hydra Govt would not only deepen the recession already in place, it would bring MMP down with it. Maori Party take note.
By far the most interesting result from last night's Leaders Debate featuring the minor parties was the immediate visceral reaction of New Zealanders - 75% voted for ending MMP. This is not a scientific poll but should be regarded as a leading indicator of the darkening public mood. If you put this 75% figure together with the recent poll result that showed 80% of New Zealanders think the convention should be respected whereby the largest single party lead an MMP Government and you can see that the minnority Clark-led Hydra Govt will mark the beginning of the end of MMP.
Clark is technically right in saying that under MMP all that matters is a minority of one vote on supply and confidence and that her Hydra Govt, particularly if Maori make a critical strategic error and allow it to happen, can rule NZ. But on a deeper level, she is profoundly wrong.
Any constitutional arrangement depends not only on its precise technical terms, but on convention. If she flouts (or is allowed to flout by reckless third parties) the convention that the largest Party must lead an MMP Govt, she will bring MMP down with her. Yes - it is a young constitutional convention that 80% of kiwis believe in - but sso too is MMP is a young constitution. The Hydra Govt will tear MMP out of its shallow and young roots.
All constitutional arrangments finally depend on legitimacy. The public decides legitimacy - not on the basis of fine academic arguments penned by Sir Geoffrey Palmer and left wing academics, but the realities of the political and economic market place. A Clark minority Hydra govt, going into a recession which may be deep, and with every Party having a say in running the country except the Party that most kiwis voted for would utterly destroy the legitimacy of MMP in the public mind.
It is tragically easy to forecast the broad plot - not the precise lines of the script - but the main event. A minority led AXIS HYDRA Govt would not be able to govern NZ, which is already in a recession which is about to deepen. Clark's old tricks - pull out a billion here, a billion there to patch over this minority party wishlist ($600m for Winston's MFAT bureaucrats, $1billion for the Green Party to use your money to retrofit other peoples' homes, nearly $2 billion to buy off the left wing of the Labour Party by the shameful decision to renationalise the railways) - none of that is going to be possible in the next three years. Well, perhaps not quite right: it is possible if all fiscal prudence (and Cullen) is thrown out of the window and Clark resorts to what all desperate rulers have resorted to - printing money via an ever expanding deficit. But business, both at home (and 'home' of business decisions these days is largely controlled by Melbourne and Sydney) and farther afield will not accept that. NZ would be seen not as a 'banana republic' - our historical reputation will save us from that - but as ungovernable given the odd choice of New Zealanders to introduce a system from Germany decided to stop any Government becoming strong enough to elect another Nazi Party.
The public mood, as these realities unfold and become clear to Kiwis, will darken dramatically. The public's anger will focus on two related matters: first, on MMP (which will be seen, and correctly so, as making NZ ungovernable, except where fair winds blow economically) and second, the public anger will focus on the political parties responsible for the Hydra Govt. That public mood will in due course deeply influence the National Party. They will harden up their position, in a mood not of disappointment but deep anger, as the economic and political situation worsens, on MMP. They will sweep into power with a huge landslide in 2011 or earlier - as a consequence of the beheading of the AXIS HYDRA Govt through some obscure Parliamentary event yet not possible to forecast. National would then have a mandate to end this ridiculous mistake. MMP will disappear into history.
The Labour Party will of course survive. But the minor parties which depend utterly on MMP for their place in Parliament will not. Interestingly, that need not include the Maori Party. They do not need MMP to survive. They need the Maori seats to survive. Provided National draws the conclusion that the Maori Party is now a politically independent Party, they can finally live with the Maori seats. But if Pita Sharples and Tariana make a critical error of judgement and side with the Hydra Govt, that distinction will be obliterated.
This will not be easy for the Maori Parliamentary Party leaders. But in their post-Election huis, they will have to dig deep into the greatest traditions of Maori leadership to explain this complex reality to their people or face long term oblivion, along with an MMP system they do not really need for their long-term survival.
Winston was plain aweful, at his incoherent best.
And Turiana Turia skillfully avoided any commitment one way of the other.
Did Brent receive talking points again from you know who??
This review of the internationaal markets from CNN....
Bloodletting that led to record breaking lows on shellshocked Asian markets eased Monday as Wall Street opened flat and Europe reined in earlier losses to contain the damage.
The main European markets enjoyed a mixed day with Paris' CAC 40 down 3.9 percent, Frankfurt's DAX 30 up 0.9 percent and London's FTSE 100 up 0.8 percent.
In early afternoon New York trading, the main U.S. indices were all within 1 percent of the open.
It was a contrast to Asia where a region-wide selling frenzy saw violent losses.
Hong Kong's major index closed down 12.7 percent, while Tokyo's bellwether Nikkei lost more than 6 percent, closing at its lowest level in 26 years. The index stumbled as the yen fluctuated near a record high against the dollar -- a condition that makes Japanese exports more expensive.
National is pledging to spend nearly twice as much on infrastructure as Labour as the bidding war over rescue packages for the stalling economy escalates.
On the campaign trail on Auckland's North Shore yesterday, party leader John Key said a National government would spend $8.55 billion on new infrastructure projects over six years $3.7b more than Labour.
He said Labour would be unlikely to get its $4.8b infrastructure plan through in a coalition with the Green Party, which was anti-development and would block any proposals to build new roads.
"A Labour-Green government spells infrastructure paralysis by analysis," Key said.
"We do not believe that a Labour-Green government would invest anywhere near the proportion we are on infrastructure; we do not believe they are committed to infrastructure development."
Key denied he was trying to scare people about a Labour-Green government.
"It's a statement of fact. A Labour-Green government will not be able build infrastructure at the same rate a National government could," he said.
"It just simply won't have the commitment from the Greens, who do not want to build more roads."
Key's renewed attack on a Labour-Green coalition came as a TVNZ poll last night found 79 per cent of respondents believed the party with the most votes after the election should form the next government.
With less than two weeks to election day, National leader John Key is trying hard to grab the initiative at a time when many voters are starting to firm up their intentions.
He wrapped up a support deal with Peter Dunne on Sunday. Yesterday, he reheated National's planned spend-up on infrastructure projects to head off Labour's intentions of going down the same track.
But most attention will focus on National's rescue package for people who lose their jobs in the predicted prolonged recession.
"Transitory assistance" will be offered to those paying mortgages to tide them over while they hunt for another job,
National has to be seen responding to the repercussions of the financial crisis in an effective and credible fashion. But this is a big call.
The package is designed to show that Key will be as centrist as Prime Minister as he says he will.
It is all about negating Labour's "trust" message.
The nightmare is in the detail as to who is eligible for money and who isn't - this will be revealed on Friday.
The package must be seen as fair, although there are bound to be inequities.
The package also runs counter to National Party ideology, by discouraging savings and people taking out income-protection insurance.
But it does offer voters a comfort blanket in uncertain times.
Insiders say considerable and careful thought has been given to all this. If it is popular, the package could give Key unstoppable momentum. If it is not, it could throw the campaign wide open.
Oct 27, 2008
- Turiana Turia - reasoned and mature throughout
- Rodney Hide - sensible policy and good politics
- Peter Dunne - always reasonable
- Jim Anderton - getting better all the time
- Jeanette Fitzsimons - why was Comrade Norman not there?
- Winston Peters - shifty
Here is the OECD list:
South Korea — 31.7
Australia — 34.0
Switzerland — 34.0
Ireland — 34.7
Japan — 36.5
United States — 37.4
Luxembourg — 37.8
Canada — 38.6
Spain — 38.8
Norway — 41.0
New Zealand — 42.3
Iceland — 43.1
For the record our conclusion from today's outing is that Nathan Guy is going to win Otaki by a landslide.
He pointed to the likelihood of the strong-polling Greens playing a big role in a potential Labour-led government and suggested that wouldn't work well with his party.
"Particularly some of the impediments that the likely involvement of the Greens would bring to that government make it difficult to see how we could advance the policies we are most interested in."
If Wellington City Council and other councils around the country are expecting plaudits for deciding to limit their spending, they are mistaken, The Dominion Post writes. Instead they should be explaining what has taken them so long.
Like others who have the ability to take money from the pockets of citizens using legislative power - and that is what taxes and rates do - councils have been spending up large. The ratepayers, after all, cannot take their business elsewhere.
Nationwide, rates have gone up 51 per cent in the past six years. The consumer price index has risen only 19 per cent during that time.
While the economy boomed those sorts of rises were ugly, but were swallowed by businesses and citizens enjoying the good times. As the country waits for the full effects of the economic tsunami to hit, anything that comes close to approaching that would not only cause what Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast describes as undue hardship - it would choke some to financial death.
However, Ms Prendergast is also right to point out that in times of recession the council has a responsibility to stimulate employment and the local economy.
And on the need for amalgamation
There is, however, no defence for huge spending on bureaucracy, on large communications departments devoted to council self-promotion or on needless duplication because parochialism is put ahead of pragmatism.
That is why Ms Prendergast and the other mayors around the region should look again at amalgamation. There is no reason the Wellington region - population 450,000 - needs five councils on this side of the Rimutakas, three in the Wairarapa, a regional council and a host of community boards, the purpose of which continues to elude most.
Each of those councils has its own expensive management structure, headed by a mayor or chairman, filled out with a swag of councillors and run by a well-remunerated chief executive.
The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce estimates the overall savings would be hundreds of millions. That may sound too optimistic, but may not be, once the hidden costs of having a splintered system are taken into account.
The Wellington region pays a heavy price for having a system in which too many spend too much time and money defending their patch from their next-door neighbours. That has been seen in the bickering over a regional economic strategy, and the tortuous debate over whether Transmission Gully is the best solution to the road access problems the capital faces.
The calls for amalgamation are not new. Local body politicians, mindful that amalgamation could mean the end of their own employment, have been determined not to hear them. It's time for their self-serving deafness to end.
A trust set up to receive half the misspent $158,000 that NZ First was ordered to repay was not registered till three months after Winston Peters announced he had donated the money to charity, documents reveal.
Now, pressure is mounting on Parliament's Speaker Margaret Wilson to reveal who benefited from the payments.
National Party leader John Key stepped into the row yesterday, saying that Ms Wilson should tell the public where the money had gone.
"It's important to understand that this was money that was owed to the New Zealand taxpayer and arguably it should have been repaid to the New Zealand taxpayer."
Oct 26, 2008
As readers know, we have been concerned for some time about Winston's health. We noted again last night on One News that he was having to wipe a huge amount of sweat from his brow. And tonight he fails to front at the one of the most important debates in the election campaign. Why not? Could he be more unwell than we realised? What else could explain the incoherence and the word slurring?
But isn't it frightening to hear the rubbish being spoken by Keith Locke and the Greens? Why has Labour made the mistake of creating the AXIS link with the Greens and NZ First??
The reason was obvious. He is a fuckwit and incompetent and he did not want to be shown up by Phil Goff and Tim Groser - both of whom are competent and non-fuckwits.
We posted on how this would work yesterday. But our work was premised not on a dream but on the trend in the polls, a trend which suggests that the Greens are the only members of the AXIS that are moving upwards, while Labour and NZ First are losing support (to the Greens).
But the story is worth a read. Particularly given the joint campaigning between the founder members of the AXIS that went on yesterday in Gisbourne.
Is this good enough? We think not.
Oct 25, 2008
And Hooton is having a say too.
It does seem that the last two weeks of this election campaign could be all about trusts.....
With two recent polls showing Labour hemorrhaging support to the Greens readers are asking interesting questions. What happens if both Labour and the Greens poll 20% on election night? Who will be the Leader of the Opposition? Labour or the Greens?
That is interesting. But we are more interested in some other scenarios.
What happens if the seven headed hydra becomes a reality? And with the Greens as the largest Party?
Who will the PM be? We can't have a joint PM can we? So will it be Jeanette or Comrade Norman?
Or will we have a joint PM? Will they both get the PM salary or will they have to split it? Will there be a Deputy PM in this circumstance? Maybe the PM and Deputy PM salaries could be pooled and divided in two.
But what happens at State banquets who is going to speak? The joint PMs? Who will foreign leaders meet when they visit? The PMs jointly? And what about APEC who will represent New Zealand? Will New Zealand be allowed 2 seats at the table instead of one?
The same questions about salary and speaking at banquets etc apply even if the seven headed Axis hydra does not win, but instead makes up the opposition, but with the Greens as the biggest Party - say the 21% to 19% scenario.
These are all interesting questions. Does a constitutional lawyer have any comments?
"Officials and I will be working together over the weekend to determine whether the proposals that we have been developing need any refinement in light of the Australian scheme. "Once we have finalised details of our proposals, officials will undertake further discussions with the banks and others in the financial sector before final decisions are taken.
"I will ensure that National Party Deputy Leader and Finance Spokesman, Hon Bill English, also receives a briefing. It is anticipated that announcements will be made next week-end if at all possible while the New Zealand markets are closed.
Dr Cullen will be making no further media comment at this time.
And it is good that the banks will be consulted. But why do we have to wait until next weekend to finalsie things and announce them - dumb question. Next weekend is the final weekend before the election. Guess who is going to run this? The PM we bet. This needs some scrutiny from the MSM...
Helen Clark must feel she is catching a dose of the Thatchers - that political virus that engulfs outstanding leaders just when they come to believe no one else could possibly match them.
Such leaders - and Clark certainly is that - find it quite extraordinary when the political tide goes against them.
Australia's John Howard clung on far too long, instead of managing a transition to a successor while still holding office.
But although the ideological differences are stark, I believe Clark lines up more with the former British Prime Minister.
At her peak, the iron lady was unmatchable. No man in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet could stand up to her (same as Clark).
Unlike Clark, Thatcher did not manage her Cabinet ministers by texting them commands from her cellphone. All Thatcher had to do was plonk her handbag on the Cabinet table, ministers got the message.
Helen Clark is trying to persuade Labour supporters against strategic voting as an increasing number of polls show the Green Party is making inroads into Labour's support base.
When she was asked at a meeting with Foodstuffs workers if they should vote strategically to ensure a Labour coalition, she said the best way was to vote for Labour.
Oct 24, 2008
So we were surprised to receive negative reports of encounters in recent days. First we here that a senior member of the National Party had a bad experience of "the volume being turned up to clear the clientele" syndrome. And then more recently we hear that people siting with a Korean War artillery officer veteran (who is a bit hard of hearing - we wonder why???) asked for the music to be turned down a bit because it was becoming too loud. Was it turned down? No! The poor vet (winner of some of the most distinguished military awards awarded in the British Commonwealth, and now somewhat aged) was subjected to a sharp shoulder tap and a lecture from a French waiter about how this restaurant doesn't lower its music volume because one person complains. Unfortunately for said Frog, our Korean war vet was not the person who complained....
What a shame, is all we can say. We are still very positive about Arbitrageur. But we are surprised that they have not taken more note about what happened across the road to Copita.....
The Greens are well up in the poll at 11.5%.
The poll was taken from 6-19 October. Most of this period was before the Greens announced their formal membership of the Axis.
Morgan comments as follows:
"The drift in their support to both the Opposition National Party (up 2.5% ) and the Greens (up 2.5% to a record high 11.5%) has handed the initiative back to the National Party.
“National Party leader John Key’s biggest challenge against a strong and experienced incumbent like Helen Clark has always been convincing New Zealanders he has the leadership skills and toughness to lead New Zealand through a period of international financial and economic turmoil.
“John Key impressed in last week’s leaders debate against Prime Minister Helen Clark and Key’s ability to stand up to Clark and present the case for a National Party Government enhanced his standing in the electorate and helped establish Key as the new leader New Zealand needs to lead it out of the current recession.”
This is an interesting perspective from Dominick T. Armentano that a reader just sent through. The source is here.
When LewRockwell.com published my article, “The Coming Collapse of Oil Prices” back in May, crude oil was selling for roughly $135 per barrel. Almost every oil pundit was then predicting that prices would soar even higher. I strongly suggested, however, that prices would likely fall sharply, probably into the $80 dollar range. Well, since then the price of crude oil has declined sharply and (absent some new Mid-east war) they are likely headed even lower in the weeks and months ahead.
My thesis about the near-term direction of oil prices was that declining world demand (due to near recessions in several national economies) and generous profits associated with oil production would inevitably lead to sharply falling prices. The long 150-year history of oil prices is that short-run increases in price are (almost) ALWAYS followed by just as dramatic reductions in price. This scenario has played out in the late 19th century, during and after World War 1, World War 2, and most dramatically after the price hikes of late 1970’s and early 1990’s. Oil prices first increase sharply, then the tumble.
The only apparent exception to this almost Iron Law of Oil Prices is the period 1933–1941, when real oil prices (adjusted for inflation) increased sharply and stayed uncharacteristically stable for years. Yet the proximate cause of that period of sustained high prices was government regulation, not the free market. During the Great Depression, several oil producing states (led by Texas) placed quotas on oil production (pro-rationing) and the federal government cooperated by initiating tariffs and quotas on imported foreign oil. In short, government regulation subverted normal market forces and politically savvy producers benefited artificially at the expense of consumers. Thus, this episode became the exception that proves the rule.
Current oil market pundits, of course, were convinced that this time around the oil barrel, things would be very different. We were told repeatedly that the world was “running out” of oil; that oil production had “peaked” and future supplies must fall; that we were hopelessly “addicted” to oil (our President and both presidential candidates asserted this); that higher prices would not curb consumption substantially; and that the oil industry was not “competitive” anyway and would simply not allow prices and profits to fall...ever. All of this, of course, was (and is) dangerous nonsense, belied over and over again by economic theory and the facts of history. Yet these notions have now become “conventional wisdom” and policy makers employ them in order to subsidize and regulate energy markets regardless of common sense or cost.
I experienced some of this nonsense first-hand shortly after my op/ed appeared. I’ve written hundreds of op/eds over the years but few sparked more of an email assault than that one. Letters came from here in the U.S. and abroad, from businessmen, teachers, financial analysts, and even from local legislators, instructing me that I was either an idiot, a shill for the oil industry, or likely both. I was told on the best authority that oil prices were going straight to $200 per barrel, and then even higher, and that any talk of lower prices was, well, idiotic. Yet when I challenged one alleged oil expert to a Julian Simon-style wager that oil prices would be lower (in real terms) ten years from now, he never replied. My guess is that he is currently risking his clients’ money, not his own, on the near-term prospect of $250 oil. Good luck.
Could currently falling oil prices increase again? Of course. And one of the new reasons, ironically, might be that the “alternative energy” crowd now requires higher and stable oil prices in order to make energy alternatives economically viable. So I’ll be interested to see whether Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (or even Sen. Obama and John McCain) might be willing to support a government “floor” on crude oil prices in order to promote the development of solar and wind energy. Stay tuned.
Louden's post seems to prove:
that Barack Obama was a member of the Illinois New Party and was endorsed by them in his 1996 Illinois State Senate race.
Who are the Illinois New Party?
The New Party was the creation of the quasi-Marxist Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the radical community organisation ACORN. The Communist Party splinter group Committees of Correspondence (CoC) was also involved.
Many Hive readers will be interested in the topic - our place in the world.
In many ways this is going to be a leadership debate. Phil Goff has yet to become leader, but that is splitting hairs. Other party leaders participating are United Future - Peter Dunne, ACT - Rodney Hide, Progressive - Jim Anderton and from NZ First - Winston Peters.
The Trotskyite wing of the Green Party is being represented by Keith Locke (expect Winston to raise Afghanisatn and Cambodia - as he should).
Tim Groser is representing National. Poor fellow is well outnumbered by the Axis representatives. Fortunately he knows 10 times more about the subject than the rest of them combined.
The debate is live and on air (Radio NZ National) from 5pm on Sunday. There is a panel discussion after the debate at 6.30pm. We understand that Fran O'Sullivan is going to be one of the expert panelists.
Today's Herald-DigiPoll survey must be a subject of frustration in the ranks of the Labour Party. The tilting at John Key's political inexperience, his previous career, and a stumbling and bumbling National Party election campaign have done relatively little to bring the two major parties closer together. The poll shows National with 50.4 per cent support and Labour with 37 per cent. In line with most others, it discloses a gap that will be difficult to bridge in the remaining two weeks of the campaign. Even after the gap is closed when centre-left and centre-right coalition blocs are grouped together, and allowing for a big overhang resulting from the Maori Party winning all seven Maori electorates, this poll result would see National as likely victors.
Perhaps most sobering for Labour is the fact that this is the 13th consecutive month the DigiPoll survey has recorded National as holding a double-digit advantage. That suggests many people are intent on signing off Helen Clark after three terms of Labour-led administrations. Such is their mindset that they have not been, and are tending not to be, swayed by the minutiae of what happens on the campaign trail, whether it be television advertisements or National blunders.
In many ways, the situation has parallels to last year's election in Australia. Prime Minister John Howard, having presided over 11 years of enduring prosperity, was routed by the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd. The voters' verdict had much to do with the simple desire for a fresh face and new ideas. Mr Rudd presented this in a non-alarming way. Mr Howard's repeated warning to voters not to abandon a proven formula gained little traction. The electorate, quite simply, wanted to look ahead.
Mr Key has concentrated on presenting an unthreatening countenance, not unlike that of Mr Rudd. This seems to have neutralised Labour's attempts to draw attention to his former career as a Merrill Lynch money trader. Indeed, Mr Key's rating in the preferred prime minister stakes has varied little over the past six months, even if in this survey he has fallen behind Helen Clark for the first time in that period, albeit by just 44.8 per cent to her 45.4 per cent. That would suggest further assaults on his character over the next fortnight. The danger for Labour is that these may be self-defeating unless issues with considerably more substance and resonance are raised.
This survey suggests that key Labour policies, most notably the carrot to students of a universal allowance, have not been significant enough as vote-catchers. Nor have repeated claims of a "secret" National agenda.
Further National blunders may spark increased doubts about that party's readiness to govern but, on the polling evidence so far, these would deliver Labour only a percentage point or two. That would not be nearly enough to overhaul what appears to be National's embedded advantage. In such circumstances, the permutations associated with potential coalition partners, and the Greens' success in climbing back above the 5 per cent threshold in this poll, offer not enough comfort. Not at this stage of a campaign. Labour's hopes rest now on some cataclysmic occurrence, an event resounding enough to shatter the current template.
Rob Hosking looks at Cullen's attempts to get a wholesale banking guarantee in place by 8 November.
Hugh de Lacy looks at the establishment of a new lobby group - Straterra. The group's goal is to double the resource sector's annual contribution to the economy - at present $4 billion. The group is Chaired by the impressive Chair of Pike River Coal John Dow.
Hugh also looks at Southland's potential to produce diesel from lignite. If Government supports this initiative it could be up an running in 5 years.
Ben Thomas looks at Michael Cullen's dusting off of the goal to move NZ back into the top half of the OECD per capita wealth table (a goal that was quietly dropped a few years back). And Trinh Le of NZIER does an analysis that suggests that on current growth tracks New Zealand will not reach the middle rung of the OECD ladder until 2170.
Stephen Selwood has an excellent think piece on the need for a grand plan for infrastructure. We agree with pretty much every word.
Ben Thomas has another article looking at the campaign and the breaking down of previously understood rules of MMP.
And there are multiple articles by Mark Peart - on the implications of our dependency on agriculture exports, prospects for the "natural products industry", and a review of a thought provoking speech to the Japan-New Zealand Business Council.
The final article that caught our eye was by Minter Ellision's Scott Gallagher. Scott thinks that the Doha Round should be put out of their misery. We don't fully agree with this by the way, but we encourage free speech. Let a hundred flowers bloom........................