Sunday, 18 September 2005

Get Set for a Bumpy Ride!

Well last night's election results are fairly inconclusive, especially with around 218,000 special votes still to be counted. Voters largely deserted the minor parties (according to Frogblog, in 2002, one in three kiwis(32.91%) supported the five elected minor parties... in 2005, just one in six kiwis(16.36%) gave their party vote to a minor party).

Mrs Peter Davis's Labour Party look to have the upper finger at the moment, but it's going to take a lot of negotiating/compromise/arguing to come up with a workable arrangement. Whatever the end result, it looks like we're in for a bumpy 3 years (or less, if you believe some commentators)

Lessons learnt from this Election Campaign:

* LABOUR: Many journalists and commentators have pointed out what an appallingly bad campaign Michael Cullen has run.

Starting with his "Chewing Gum" budget, through to finding billions of dollars hidden under the sofa, through to his poor performance against John Key, questions must surely be asked about his future in charge of the purse strings if Labour leads the next Government.

One possibility could be Cullen to work alongside United Future's Gorden Copeland as Associate Minister of Finance?

Saddest loss of the night was that of John Tamihere (who didn't want to be on the List)... A rare breed - an honest politician! ;-)

* NATIONAL: New Zealand currently has an MMP voting system. You need allies/friends/partners in order to form a stable government. Labour to their credit understands that, which is why they co-operated with the Green Party during this campaign.

Another term in opposition may not be all bad, given the large number of political newbies entering Parliament this election. Some good talent amongst the new intake though, which is good news for the party.

* NZ FIRST: Back in, but with losing Tauranga, Winston Peters will have to tread more carefully. He's no longer got an electorate lifeline, so needs to ensure his party stays over that crucial 5% mark.

Unpredictable as ever, and likely to be a restrictive/tempering influence on whichever party leads the next minority Government.

* GREENS: Mike Ward is well and truly on his bike, after having already cycled all over the North Island ;-) The Greens are about as close as you can get to the 5% threshold (5.07%!).

They'll also be hoping a good number of special votes again swing their way, or their weed poster boy, Nandor Tanczos, will also be out after being dropped down their list. A lesson that Parliament is not the place to be promoting working class drugs? (If he does make it back though, that extra seat could come from one of the Centre/Right parties).

* ACT: A lesson for the party as to the importance of an electorate seat under New Zealand's MMP system. Parties without that security blanket spend half their time battling against the 'wasted vote' argument, with the country's tough 5% threshold. (The Royal Commission's original recommendation was 4%, still high by international standards).

Now that Hide has secured the Epsom seat by a respectable margin, he can go about rebuilding the party with voters assured that a vote for ACT will not be a wasted one.

* UNITED FUTURE: The moral conservative vote appeared to go back to the National Party, and "the worm" failed to turn tricks for Peter Dunne in this election.

The big question will now be whether the Outdoor Recreation Party - who have been working with United Future during this campaign - opt to stay with Dunne, given they did not achieve representation through him. (Outdoor Rec's top candidate, Paul Check, was #7 on UF's list).

* MAORI PARTY: Possibly one of the smartest parties this election, having increased the size of Parliament to 122 MPs, by creating a two seat overhang, thanks to Maori Party supporters splitting their votes to Party Vote Labour. (This despite the fact that the Maori Party is closer to the centre on economic and other issues than Tariana's former friends in Labour).

Pita Sharples has impressed in this campaign, but it remains to see how Hone Harawira will go in Parliament. (I would struggle to stay awake in Parliament, so I don't know how he'll find the whole system!) There will be big pressure on them to deliver on the Foreshore issue.

* PROGRESSIVES: Only Jim Anderton has made it back (thanks to his Wigram seat), based on election night figures, although a small percentage increase when the special votes are tallied would also return his hard working friend Matt Robson, who has some unfinished business in the form of raising the drinking age back up to 20.

** Update: David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has way too much time on his hands ;-) , and has got a complete analysis of the likely winners and losers in terms of seats, once Special Votes are counted.

[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Benassi Bros Feat. Dhany - Make Me Feel
^ Army of Lovers - Son of a Gun ]

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Sunday, 11 September 2005

"I don't do small gatherings"

It seems that some Labour politicians have "better things to do" than speaking at small-time "Meet the Candidates" meetings.

I was just reading on Aaron's Bhatnagar's blog that Labour's Judith Tizard walked out on one such meeting this afternoon, after finding out no media were present. She decided the 50 plus people who did attend the meeting at Forbe's Frontbench were not worth her time, asking the audience to Party Vote Labour, before announcing she had "better things to do" and leaving.

Her place was taken by another high profile Labour offspring, Stuart Nash, who's currently heading for a bronze medal in Epsom. By all accounts he was very well received by the audience, after being put on the spot once Tizard had departed.

* More details on Aaron's site: Judith Tizard - MP for Arrogant Central

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Friday, 9 September 2005

Labour accused of scare tactics in the South

The Labour Party, fresh from accusing Don Brash over dodgy deals with a group of Exclusive Brethren members, are being accused of gutter politics in Dunedin.

A number of state house tenants have received personally addressed letters, disguised as Eviction notices. The one page "letters" have the words 'EVICTION NOTICE' printed in bold blue type at the top, along with the statement 'Don't let National sell your house!'.

Some recipients of these letters intially believed they were genuine eviction letters, meaning they were going to lose their homes. The fliers were folded in three, with a personally addressed sticker securing them. The Labour Party's logo is printed at the bottom of the page, and mentions the name of the Labour party a number of times in the letter.

National Party list MP and Dunedin North candidate, Katherine Rich, has accused Labour of "preying upon the nation's most vulnerable", with some tenants still in shock over the letters days later.

There are also concerns over how the names and addresses of state house tenants were obtained, as Katherine Rich says she believed that information was private.

* ODT: Gutter politics in South

[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Tatu - All About Us
^ September - Satellites ]

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Thursday, 8 September 2005

Apple annnounce cool new iPod nano

Apple have announced a new model in their hugely popular iPod series, the ipod nano. The nano effectively replaces the iPod mini, which introduced the innovative 'click wheel', but was starting to look long in the tooth compared with rival offerings.

The iPod nano is small and super slim (as thin as a pencil), but features a colour screen, and can hold up to 1,000 songs (4GB version), or 500 songs on the 2GB version. They come in other white or black (no colours this time around).

The new device uses flash memory like the iPod shuffle, rather than the hard drives of the bigger models, making for much longer battery life.

Apple have also launched a ROKR iTunes phone (but not too many details about it), and an update to version 5.0 for their iTunes media player software, which has a few new features like being able to organise playlists into folders, and greater control over random playback.

* Apple - iPod nano - Photos & Specs
* iPod Garage - Apple's brave move...
* (Hat tip - Aaron Bhatnagar)
[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Darin - Step Up
^ Helena Paparizou - The Light in our Soul ]

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State Radio suspends host for asking questions?

Radio New Zealand has apparently suspended Morning Report co-host, Sean Plunket, after what was described as a "confrontational" interview with Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The interview was about the controversial pamphlet on the Green Party, which a group of members of the Exclusive Brethren church had printed and delivered to homes around the country. (Apparently an independent group distributing a pamphlet is called "a smear campaign, according to the media... while Union pamphlets with dodgy takes on National party policies are classed as "legitimate freedom of speech").

(On that note, an interesting question of the day courtesy of David Farrar at Kiwiblog... Which sinister group has spent $353,000 on smear ads during this election campaign? Answer: The PPTA...)

The Greens expressed "disappointment" with Plunket's angle of questioning, but Fitzimons insists the party did not make a formal complaint to Radio NZ, or asked for disciplinary.

This action shows the true colours of State Radio. Gone is the idea of tough questioning, when that question line is at odds with the preferred coalition Government of Radio New Zealand.

New Zealanders are used to incredibly tough question lines (many which could be considered as a tad biased), but it's just accepted as part and parcel of the way the media works. I believe most people would admit to hearing more than a couple of "tough" interviews between Politicians/Public figures and the likes of Kim Hill, Linda Clark, Paul Holmes, etc.

One more reason why the State should not be involved in the media industry as a Broadcaster in any way.

* NZ Herald: Radio Host in hot water
* Scoop: Fitzsimons surprised at Plunket suspension
* Too Right: Sean Plunket suspended? (includes link to an mp3 of the interview)

*(Update: According to today's reports, Plunket was suspended after a shouting match with the boss, which followed Fitzsimons interview. Obviously he strayed a little from the Radio NZ Party line, in that he gave a tough interview to a potential coalition partner for the Labour Party. The EPMU (The Engineering and Print Manufacturing Union) have refused to comment.

(They're the ones that represent many journos, and are the same ones that are spending the journos money in national papers this week, with half page advertisments featuring misleading claims about National Party policy. Why is it that "balance" only applies to the media when they're talking about the centre left??)

* NZ Herald: Plunket's suspension due to row with boss
* NZ Herald: Brash hits out at media
* Insolent Prick: Labour's Pay-Off to Unions

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Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Rivals See Red over Labour's Junk Mail Drop

The National Party is accusing Labour of abusing taxpayer funds, by using Government money to pay for their political propaganda.

Labour has had a copy of its 'Seven Point Pledge' card delivered to homes around New Zealand, tucked inside a glossy brochure.

Fair enough, it's election campaign time. The problem is, both the card and the pamphlet feature the Parliamentary Crest, which means the advertising pieces are funded by the taxpayer.

How on earth can a party (albeit one leading a minority Government at the moment) get away with using State funds for blatent electioneering? The pledge card has been a core part of Labour's election campaign, and isn't simply an information brochure on policies already adopted (as most people accept the rules mean).

The pledge card Mrs Peter Davis had delivered to potential voters in 1999 were paid for and delivered by Labour Party fans. The National Party says Labour's campaining on the public purse, and should refund the money they're using in an attempt to get re-elected.

* NZ Herald: Pledge cards 'abuse of taxpayer money'
* Scoop: Taxes wasted on Labour's pledge card
* Scoop: Clark's leader's fund paid for red pledge card

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Friday, 2 September 2005

Owen becomes a Geordie!

Great news for Geordie fans the world over, as England star striker Michael Owen formally announced his signing for English Premier Football club, Newcastle United.

The four year, £17 million deal, ends Owen's short stint out of the Premier League, while he played for Spanish club Real Madrid.

Over twenty thousand fans loudly welcomed the centre-forward onto St James' Park on Wednesday... Owen proudly wearing his new black and white #10 Magpies uniform.

The Toon Army are hoping Owen's arrival will revive their season - he's promised to end Newcastle's goal drought - along with other signings like Nobby Solano.

Some bitter Liverpool fans and journos claim Owen didn't really want to sign for Newcastle, saying his new contract has "an escape hatch in it as wide as the Tyne, a clause which he hopes can get him out of there in 12 months". We'll see.

* NUFC: Owen puts pen to paper
* NUFC: Michael's in the frame! (Official photos of Owen's signing)
* IOL: Owen welcomed by thousands of Newcastle fans
* ITN: Owen promises Newcastle goals

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