Thursday, 30 October 2008

Maori Party result could decide fate of MMP

A clean sweep of all Maori electorate seats by the Maori Party may not be the foregone conclusion that many media commentators are betting on.

A Maori TV poll of the Te Tai Tonga seat (the entire South Island and a bit of Wellington) shows Labour's Mahara Okeroa holding a 10% lead over his Maori Party rival.

Okeroa (dubbed the "invisible MP" in the south) had 49% support of decided voters, with the Maori Party's Rahui Katene in second place with 39% support. However the poll found that 23% of those surveyed were undecided/don't know on their electorate candidate vote.

Maori Television has two more electorate polls to come, and both are in seats where veteran Labour MPs are fighting tough battles.

The channel's poll for Hauraki Waikato is due out next Monday (November 3) during the Native Affairs programme, and will give an indication of whether Labour's Nanaia Mahuta (who currently holds the seat of Tainui) can hold on against the challenge from the Maori Party's Angeline Greensill.

The final poll from Maori TV will also be now released on Monday night, showing the standings in the seat of Ikaroa-Rawhiti, where Maori Affairs minister Parekura Horomia is up against veteran broadcaster Derek Fox.

The number of electorates the Maori Party manage to win could be crucial in the final count after this election.
Rolling polls put the Maori Party's nationwide support at around 2.5%, entitling them to just 3 seats. That could create an overhang of 4 seats if the Maori Party did win all 7 Maori electorates, badly distorting the proportionality of Parliament under New Zealand's MMP system.

However winning just 5 of those seats, and increasing their party vote slightly could reduce the Maori Party's overhang to just 1 seat, the same as in the current Parliament.

I hope that voters supporting Maori Party candidates this election have the courage of their convictions to cast their Party Vote for the Maori Party as well, to reduce the overhang.
The debate over the continued existence of "Maori seats" has less to do with "racism" as many people try to portray it... but rather to do with the fact that setting aside separate seats for one racial group means an increased ability to affect the proportionality of Parliament... ie. messing with the whole "all votes are equal" theory of MMP.

The Maori electorates were introduced way back in 1867, when it was extremely difficult for Maori to vote (people needed to own a certain value of land to qualify to vote, but most Maori held land under common title, rather than individual title).

The bill introducing separate Maori seats was brought by Napier MP Donald McLean, who "explicitly intended his bill as a temporary measure (5 years), giving specific representation to Maori until they adopted European customs of land ownership."

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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Greens - Banning It Since 1996

The research department at New Zealand's #1 blog has been hard at work, analysing the many policies of the Green Party.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog has come up with what he admits could be a conservative list of 85 things the Greens want to ban.

He points out how the Greens are very much " a contradictory party". While they claim to stand up for civil liberties, they also want to legislate to ban a huge range of goods and services - "the ultimate Nanny State party".

The Greens are also selective when it comes to Science. Apparently scienctists are to be believed when it comes to the distorted work promoting the religion of "climate change"... but science is bad when it comes to genetic modification and other such nasties.

The list includes bans on fizzy drinks, chips and lollies in schools, banning smacking, banning advertising during kids tv programmes, banning coal mining, and banning hydro plants/thermal generation/nuclear power.

The Greens would also ban imported vehicles older than 7 years, ban crown agencies from investing "in any entity that denies climate change"!?!, ban new urban highways, ban private toll roads, ban landfills, and ban "new houses without water saving measures" (the infamous "shower drip" policy).

Make sure you check out the full list at Kiwiblog, and forward the information to your friends and family, to prevent them from making a critical mistake in the voting booth this election...

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

Bill & Ben reject close coalition with Aunty Helen

If the "undecided/swinging" voters do actually manage to make it to the polling booths this year, I sincerely hope they don't fall into the trap of casting their "protest" votes for the so-called Green party.

Casting a protest vote is one thing, but when it risks destroying the lives of over 4.2 million people, it's not something that should be taken lightly.

This election, voters who miss the insight of Graham Lee can choose between the "Family" and "Kiwi" parties. Those who staunchly believe in a Libertarian utopia can vote for their own "Libertarianz" party. Anyone who misses the financial mumbo-jumbo of Bruce Beetham can still vote for the "Democrats for Social Credit".

But if you want your protest vote to really count this election, I encourage you to take a look at The Bill and Ben Party. They're promising to put the "Party" back into "Political Party".

(And they're even backed by the Hospitality Association of New Zealand, as evidenced by the many "B&B" signs outside bed and breakfast spots around the country!)

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

When Playground Attractions go wrong...

The news story this week about the "theme park ride gone bad" at the Gisborne A&P Show instantly reminded me of a chav-tastic video clip that did a rounds a year or two back.

In the Gisborne event, a ride called "The Explorer" went out of control, with "the shouts of excitement from the children turning to screams of fear" as the Explorer got out of control.

According to the story on 3 News, "one child was thrown out and others struggled to hold on but witnesses say they were flung about like rag dolls... When it eventually stopped, some of the children were left battered and bruised with bleeding noses and black eyes."

This is of course was an unfortunate accident from a normally safe functioning theme park ride.

However there was less sympathy for the UK teenagers who spun their friends to disaster, in what ITV News called "a teenage prank that went horribly wrong" ;-)

A group of bored Chavs park the wheel of a motorbike up on a merry-go-round, while their two Chavette friends sit in the middle of the roundabout.

The fun starts when the lads rev up the back tyre of his motorbike, which spins the girls around like a washing machine. (Shot in a children's park in Crawley, England)...

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Declining Media Standards

I'm sure anyone who watches the tv news, listens to the radio news, or reads the newspapers will agree that the quality of the country's journalists and reporters has long been declining.

While I don't think New Zealand broadcasters need to return to the "RP" British Broadcasting Corporation voices of old, it would be nice to hear a little more diction and correct pronunciation of words and phrases in our news broadcasts.

Former National/ACT/Labour advertising and marketing guru John Ansell has posted about his frustration at Mike Hosking's inability to pronounce the word anemone the other night on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He also picks out the word vulnerable as one of his 'Most Mispronounced Words in English'.

I agree, and would add to that list Police (not P'lice), tonnes (when someone mean tonnes and not the imperial measure of tons), and Women (when they are referring to more than one female).

Apart from plain old mispronunciation, basic spelling, grammar skills, and punctuation skills are noticeably absent from the country's newsrooms these days. Add to that the growing acceptance of lazy speech... Gunna, Comin' an' Goin', Wullington (our nation's capital), and Muwk (the stuff that comes from cows).

I see some people at John's blog have already commented about my pet peeves, the mispronunciation of "ing" (Tony Veitch was one of the worst for this) - as in fisheen, yachteen and raceen - as well as the painful everythink, somethink, and anythink!!

* John Ansell - Is anemone an enemy?
* Hat tip: Homepaddock

Buy Lynne Truss's excellent book,
Eats, Shoots & Leaves:
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

here now, through Amazon UK or USA...


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Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Watermelon Party goes Bananas with Loop Fruit idea

New Zealand's Green Party have never been known for bright ideas or rational debate, but the party has topped itself with its latest policy announcement to cap the country's population, while still welcoming in "climate change refugees". (?!)

Hot on the heels of its warmly received plans to ban New Zealanders from having strong hot showers, now the Greens want to limit the number of children kiwi parents can have, and cap New Zealand's population to a maximum of 5.7 million people.

The balmy idea, from the Green's "population spokeswoman" Metiria Turei, claims the party wants to make parents aware of the "impact their families had on resources and the environment".

And don't think this policy is just another spin on the NZ First message of anti-immigration, to save jobs and make "Nu Zilland for Nu Zillanders".

No, the Greens actually want to raise the number of refugees allowed into the country each year. They say more work is needed to educate "New Zealanders about the cultures and religions brought here by migrants", and want more resources for "settlement programmes, English language classes for new migrants and assistance finding a job."
While Hillin Cluck the feminist was busy visiting a mosque and submitting to the sexist restrictions of Islam, National, Act and the Maori Party slammed the Green Party policy, describing it as "a step towards population control measures similar to China's One Child policy."
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said it was a case of "middle-class" Greens trying to tell others how big their families should be.

"Tell them to go to China where there is a One Child policy. But don't start trying to control fertility and social engineering like that here."
TV3 ran a good piece on the issue last night, but seem to have taken down the link to their 6pm 3 News story from last night, Green Party suggests think twice about having babies for sustainable future... One wonders whether that was due to some sort of pressure from the Green Party, trying to limit the backlash.

The story did remind me of a debate over Labour Party billboards around the 2005 election... perhaps the Greens are planning a new spin on this message...

* Stuff: Greens want higher refugee quota
* NZ Herald: Greens' family policy slammed

See also...
* Homepaddock: Clean, green and childfree
* Don't Vote Greens blog

* UPDATE: The Green's new Billboard (Hat tip: No Minister)...

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Thursday, 16 October 2008

ACT offers Taxpayers the Right to Choose

The ACT Party has released its Tax policy, as part of their recovery package and response to help New Zealand get out of the current economic woes.

Leader Rodney Hide has labelled both Michael Cullen and John Key's weak responses to the economic problems as "irresponsible". Hide says Cullen wants to spend money the country doesn't have.

He's also labelled Key's plan to force the Government Superannuation Fund (the "Cullen Fund") to over-invest in New Zealand's limited number of companies and other assets as "nuts". Hide notes that even diehard socialist Michael Cullen isn't supporting the idea of a 40% NZ investment requirement, which which shift ownership from private hands to the State (an idea backed by the Greens & NZ First).

ACT has already said it wants to see Cullen's 39c "envy" tax rate gone by Christmas, and has unveiled a more ambitious tax package than the decidedly wimpy version released by National's John Key earlier this month.

ACT's Rodney Hide and Roger Douglas say personal tax brackets have not changed in the last 10 years (the Helenban years) to reflect inflation, which means by next year New Zealand households will be paying an extra $230 a week on average to the Government.

The ACT Party's plan is to reduce the bottom tax rate to just 12.5% in 2011, while moving to a flat rate of 15% Personal tax over the $20,000 mark over the next ten years.

GST would be trimmed back to a simpler 10%, and Company Tax would be slashed to 15%, allowing New Zealand to be more competitive with Australia and other countries, and increasing the incentive for much more investment. There would also be Petrol Tax cuts of around $500 million.

For those New Zealanders who want choice and the chance to have more control of their own lives, ACT is proposing an Optional tax-free threshold of $25,000 a year. That would create a saving of $3,050 in tax for people who want to opt out of State-provided ACC/sickness/healthcare.

A grant to cover ACC/sickness/healthcare would still be provided for any dependents, along with educational scholarships for dependent children. (Both the tax-free threshold and grants would be adjusted annually for inflation).

Unfortunately the party is a little less ambitious when it comes to cutting out-of-control Government spending. ACT want to hold future expenditure increases to 3.6% (inflation level), rather than the 6% of recent years.

The party's "20-point plan to beat Australia" does include plans to cut the number of bureaucrats and pointless Government departments, but the restrained policies on Government spending are still some way short of what ACT's more "libertarian" members would have liked to have seen.

However, ACT is promising to dump Labour's dodgy Emissions Trading Scam, which panders to the Greens and to Hillin Cluck's ambitions of a top job at the United Nations.

ACT would repeal the Emissions Trading Scheme and pull out of Kyoto... saving New Zealand billions of dollars and many thousands of jobs, by rejecting the false religion of "man-made Climate Change" and "Global Warming" and its One-World tax called "carbon credits".

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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cold Shower for Labour's Water Pressure plans

A new election billboard "mashup" is doing the rounds, this one a play on Labour's bright red ones featuring a lady wearing a white jacket, playing on the party's plans to abolish strong-flowing showers.

Spotted via NZ Herald's Sideswipe column, local website The Foghorn Blast is
running an election billboard competition, dubbed Election 08 Pimp Your Political Billboard Competition. This one is an early favourite (despite the incorrect usage of an apostrophe!...)

The Foghorn Blast competition encourages readers to download one of their "unadulterated Election Campaign Billboards", and then creatively "enhance (or degrade) until you’ve created the type of promise and politician you’d like to see in charge of our fine country."

Plenty of fun for the whole family! ;-) An 4th generation iPod Nano 16GB is on offer for the competition winner, with an iPod Shuffle up for grabs for the runner-up.

* NZ Herald: All steamed up on showers

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

National's tax plans fail to impress

While Labour and the Unions are scrambling to come up with reasons to rebut National's tax plans, critics on the correct side of National are disappointed at the scale of the planned tax cuts.

London-based blogger Clint Heine is well-unimpressed, particularly with National wimping out on abolishing New Zealand's top tax rate, with plans to drop it by just 2% (to 37%) by 2010. He rightly describes this as "madness and sheer gutlessness" from Key and English.

This is the "rich prick/envy" top tax rate of 39 cents in the dollar that Michael Cullen introduced in 1999, promising it would apply to "only the top 5% of income earners". That promise was never kept, with over 12% of workers now being forced to pay it.

More than a year ago, the Centre for Independent Studies revealed a person on the average wage of $36,000 in 2000 was now paying an extra $2,400 in tax each year (in real terms) because of Cullen's inaction and refusal to adjust tax thresholds.

The 3-year tax plans by both Labour and National fail to even compensate fully for this initial loss in real earnings since 2000.

Over-taxing many hundreds of thousands of New Zealand workers every year helped Cullen give the public and the media the false impression that he was capable of balancing the country's books. It has taken 9 years of bad policies to truly reveal that the emperor has no clothes.

Heine proposes a simple two-tier PAYE tax system, with 0% tax up to $20,000, and then an 18% flat tax rate from $20,000 upwards (dropping as the economic conditions improve). Not a bad idea, although I note that the Maori Party are even bolder, and want the first $25,000 of personal income to be tax-free.

ACT leader Rodney Hide says John Key has "failed to provide any economic leadership or direction". Hide says it proves that while a vote for National would get rid of PM Helen Clark, it would also be a vote to stick with the failed economic policies of Dr Cullen...
"I can see now why John Key doesn't want Sir Roger Douglas in his cabinet," said party leader Rodney Hide. The man he sees eye-to-eye with is (finance minister) Michael Cullen.
"What is needed is a recovery package that includes capping government expenditure, slashing red tape, and an immediate abolition of Cullen's 39 cent envy tax."
It is rumoured that National slashed over $2 billion from their original tax cuts package after the Government's books were opened, opting to give workers less of their own money back, rather than taking the bold (and actually quite simple) approach of cutting wasteful state spending.

The Hive revealed today (via The Independent) that New Zealand taxpayers are paying $36.9 million a year on public-sector communications staff and contractors.

Not PC has a very good message for the National Party: Stop the Spending!, while Pacific Empire has compiled a handy list of 407 (407!!) "government departments, state-owned enterprises, councils and quangos" that could help kickstart a good discussion around the caucus table of the incoming Government...

Rodney Hide notes that John Key has chosen to "cynically chase votes" rather than address the country's out of control spending and strangling red tape under Labour.
"[John Key] has fiddled while the economy burns... Key's lack of any plan, vision or leadership verges on the irresponsible. A Party vote for ACT and only ACT will see Cullen's 39 cent envy tax gone by Christmas"
* Scoop: Hide Slams Key's Economic Policy
* Clint Heine and Friends: Totally taxing Mr Key!

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Greens are Still Thinking... Yeh Right!

A new entrant in silliest headline of the year... NBR: Greens mull which major party to back. Yeh Right!!

With Aussie-socialist-import Russel Norman leading the party, and unemployed bludgers activist Sue Bradford writing policies, there is no doubt the Green Party would "prefer to work with" Labour Party after the election.

Aunty Jeanette and Norman claim their would "assess Labour and National's policies over the next few weeks", and base their decision on a balance "between environmental and social concerns."

(Sorry, I can't remember where the billboard graphic originally came from... I'll hat tip No Minister, but let me know if I'm wrong on that...)

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Social Networking off the field for Athletes

Sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Bebo are still the most popular in the online world of Social Networking, but a growing number of websites are aiming to make their mark by targeting niche groups.

One of the latest is a Sports Social Networking Site aimed specifically at athletes and sport fans. is designed to help athletes link up to discuss events, training methods, and even the competitive world of College Recruiting.

The sports social networking site encourages its sporty users to stay in touch by uploading photos, videos, and blogs. is looking to attract users through good coverage of High school sports live and video highlights from college athletic events.

Users can join groups specific to their sports or interests, and check the Stats of friends (or rivals) across the network. Members can also connect with experts in their sports, to help them "take their game to new heights", with Podcasts from top Coaches and athletes, and useful information on nutrition, strength & conditioning, and injury prevention and rehab.

The website is aiming to become a serious promotional and network tool for athletes looking to take their sporting hobby to the next level, by letting other coaches and talent scouts see their talent in sports videos, and by offering College recruiting video for athletes looking for future opportunities.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tax Cuts down, as National aims for fairness

After the revelations this week of the extent of damage Cullenomics has done to the New Zealand economy over the last 9 years, the National Party has largely held their ground and confirmed its package of tax cuts, planned to come in over the next 2 1/2 years if it wins the election.

Admittedly it's not the most ambitious or innovative tax package National could have come up (but then ambition and innovation have never been National's strong points), but it's probably not too bad considering all the other Labour-lite policies Johnboy has adopted over the last year.

National Leader John Key says the changes would leave the average worker better off by a reasonable $47 a week by 2011. National's package include adjustments in the thresholds that higher tax rates kick in, as well as small drops in the actual tax rates.

National plan to introduce the biggest cuts on April 1st next year, to boost the economy...

- Income up to $14,000 would be taxed at 12.5%
- Income $14,000-$48,000 would be taxed at 21%
- Income $48,000-$70,000 gets hit with 33%
- and a top tax rate of 38% for income over $70,000 (currently 39%)

Thresholds and tax rates will be adjusted further on April 1 2010, with the second band rising to $50,000, and the top rate dropping to 37%.

A year after that on April 1 2011, the 21% tax rate will be lowered slightly to 20%, with "medium term" plans to cap New Zealand's top tax rate at 33% (as it was before Cullen introduced his "envy tax").
It is interesting to see National trying to balance out things for single people and couples without children, with plans for a tax rebate of $10-15 a week for those earning $24,000-$50,000 who don't receive anything from Working for Families.

However I suspect it would have been cheaper and simpler to just ditch/cut the whole 'Working for Families' system (which rewards those who breed like rabbits), and instead give the money back directly to both groups through larger tax cuts, rather than wasting some of that money by having to put in place another "rebate" system.
Johnboy Key says National wouldn't have to borrow any additional money to pay for the expanded tax cuts programme, because of changes to the KiwiSaver scheme. National would cap maximum subsidies to 2%, and remove the employer tax credit.

Key says together with dropping Labour's planned "research and development" subsidy, National's changes would save $5.9 billion over the period to 2011/2012... against the cost of increased tax cuts of $5.7 billion.

Roarprawn has discovered a good Tax Calculator (Excel-based) at the NZIER website, which allows you to compare the differences National and Labour's tax policies would have on your annual income...

* Full National tax cuts package and analysis at Kiwiblog
* NZ Herald: KiwiSaver changes to help fund National's tax cuts
* Stuff: Nats trump Labour's tax package

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Labour spending up until the bitter end

While the New Zealand Parliament was formally dissolved last Friday afternoon, the Labour Party are intent on extracting every last cent out of the country before the General Election in November.

Yesterday, when high winds temporarily closed Wellington Airport, Labour leader Hillin Cluck called in the NZ Air Force, so she could attend a Grey Power meeting and visit other groups in Invercargill. The cost of a chartered flight from Ohakea to Invercargill would be around $15,000.

Critics including ACT's Deputy Leader Heather Roy have labelled the behaviour as "an abuse of her position as Prime Minister". Cluck claimed she was there as the PM rather than the Labour leader (stretching, considering Parliament has been dissolved).
Roy said the Labour leader was "there for electioneering purposes, pure and simple" and has called on Labour to pay back the air force for the cost of flights, and declare it "as an election expense under the Electoral Finance Act".

* NBR: Act lashes out at Clark's air force flight
* Stuff: PM Clark defends use of air force plane to fly to city

Meanwhile, soon to be ex-Labour MP for Dunedin South, David Benson-Pope has joined with other Labour MPs in distributing 50-page promotional booklets, labelled an "information kit for the Over 60s" around his electorate.

The orange coloured booklets feature the name and photo of the MP sending it out. Dunedin South has a high number of superannuitants, with DBP ordering 1,500 booklets.
Other Labour MPs like Phil Goff have printed up to 4,000 copies with their name and face, all paid for by Parliamentary Services (at a cost of 91c per booklet - a total of $3,640, plus postage).

It does seem to go against the whole argument for the draconian "Electoral Finance Act", and National Party deputy leader Bill English says Labour is using a loophole in the law, meaning the booklets don't have to be declared as election spending.

* ODT: Benson-Pope distributing booklet for the over-60s
* NZ Herald: Labour kit has National crying foul

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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Baking up the Political Parties

Prolific North Otago blogger Homepaddock has been spending too much time in the kitchen, and has posted a breakdown of how each political party in Parliament might cut up the "Tax Cake". Here's a taste of what's on her menu...

National: for every dollar in tax cuts there is almost a dollar for increased expenditure on priority issues dear to the public’s heart – this is the nearest you’ll get to having your cake and eating it too. (Hmm, this one sounds a tad biased, and could possibly give me heartburn... but I'll let her have it ;)

Labour’s policy will take the cake you’ve baked, share it around and, when pressured, give you some of the leftovers.

ACT will provide no cake. They will however, give the tax cuts needed to enable you to purchase a dietary plan of your choice which depending on how well you manage your allowance may or may not include cake.

The Progressive Party will nationalise all the bakeries then force you to eat badly made state-baked cake.

* Check out the full post here - Homepaddock: Cutting the tax cake

I'd add my own little slice to the bottom of that list...

The Family Party: Cake will provided to families only, based on a traditional recipe handed down unchanged through the generations. 10% of every cake must be kept aside for Bishop Tamaki.

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Monday, 6 October 2008

Wing to Sing at New York's famous Birdland club

New Zealand-based Hong Kong singing sensation Wing is set to make her New York City debut later this month at the famous Birdland jazz club in Manhattan.

Wing will perform in a special "One Night Only" performance at New York’s premier concert venue on Monday October 20th, as part of the Broadway at Birdland series.

While Wing is beloved by "the kiwis" in New Zealand, she is also a global phenomenon, having performed live and on television and radio shows around the world. Wing has released an impressive 16 CDs, and even got to play herself on the hit Cartoon Network show South Park.

As the producers note, Wing has achieved cult status through her unique vocal stylings... mastering hit songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, ABBA, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Mariah Carey, AC/DC, and so many more!

This unique live event has been organised by my old Stagedoor Manor summer camp mate Andy Sandberg, in association with Jim Caruso's Cast Party and

As Andy says, "GET YOUR TICKETS NOW, because the CDs do not do this wonder woman justice!!!"

(I would love to be there for this amazing concert, but unfortunately haven't yet managed to persuade my employer to foot the bill for the flights over to cover this great event... :-( Any alternative offers gratefully accepted! )

Event Details: Wing - Live at Birdland! (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenues, New York City).

You can purchase Tickets online @ More information at Facebook - WING - Live at Birdland!

If you haven't heard Wing, you haven't lived... Check out her unique voice (and vocal arrangements) here in her unique rendition of the Abba classic song Mamma Mia...

Want more? Here's Wing singing the Beatles' hit I Wanna Hold Your Hand!...

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Bill and Ben Party confirmed. Recommended Protest Vote

Kiwiblog has a post listing the 21 political parties officially registered to contest this year's general election in New Zealand. (Parties still need to file party lists, so the final figure could potentially be less).

I was very pleased to see The Bill and Ben Party (B&B) has made it onto the list for the upcoming election...

Founded by Jamie “Bill” Linehan and Ben “Ben” Boyce this year, the pair have the advantage of good media saturation, with their satirical sports show Pulp Sport about to return to TV3.

Bill & Ben say they were "fed up with politicians calling each other childish names" and because they already have childish names, they decided to put themselves forward.

They have yet to announce any official B&B Party policies, but say they're looking forward to the free Air New Zealand flights, and their own motorcade to rugby games at Eden Park!

Bill and Ben say they're aiming to "put the party back in political party". Wikipedia describes them as a "joke political party", but I encourage any disgruntled voters who're considering supporting that "bad joke political party" known as the Greens, to instead vote for the fun and freedom that Bill & Ben are offering.

The Bill and Ben Party's Facebook profile notes that they have already received the generous support of the NZ Hospitality Association, who have erected B&B signs right across the country, conveniently located outside Bed and Breakfasts... ;-)

Bill and Ben are embarking on their first "political rally" this Wednesday, leaving by rally car from Auckland and travelling on to Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, and Taupo over the week.

* The Bill and Ben Party's Facebook page
* NZ Herald: No one's left right out in battle for votes

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Air NZ cuts International flights from Dunedin & Hamilton

The country's largest airline - Air New Zealand - has announced major cuts to its trans-tasman international flights from regional airports in both Hamilton and Dunedin.

From late March until October next year, Air NZ will ground its international flights from Hamilton to Sydney and Hamilton to Coolangatta. The airline will continue its Hamilton to Brisbane flights, albeit with just two flights a week.

Air New Zealand will also cut back its trans-tasman schedule in the south, with the Dunedin to Brisbane and Dunedin to Sydney services reducing to five flights a week (currently seven a week).

The cutbacks come as Air NZ focuses on trying to increase profits as passengers numbers fall. The airline says it is responding to "unprecedented demand" by adding another 18 Pacific Premium Economy seats to its eight Boeing 777-200ER aircraft (making a total of 36 seats).

The Premium Economy seats offer more leg room and personal space, along with business-class style service including food and wine. (Air NZ charges more for its Premium Economy ticket, while some international airlines like United offer free upgrades to their "extended leg-room" services for regular customers).

Meanwhile, Nathan Agnew from Air New Zealand is heading a team tasked with trying to "reinvent economy class". That could include a total redesign of the plane seat, and splitting Economy into three different classes (Premium, Standard, and Lite).

* Stuff: Air NZ axes Hamilton international flights

* NZ Herald: Air NZ to double its premium economy seats on 777s

* The Australian Business: Air NZ's Nathan Agnew leads economy-class redesign team

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Nokia releases its answer to iPhone - 5800 XpressMusic

Apple's iPhone has been a big hit worldwide, but competitors have until very recently been slow to come up with their own alternatives.

Now Mobile phone giant Nokia has announced its answer to the iPhone, the touchscreen Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. The 5800 will be released this month in the UK, but most markets (including the USA) will have to wait until early 2009.

The 5800 smartphone will come bundled with a 12-month subscription to Nokia's "all-you-can-eat" music download service in the UK. The Nokia phone will be less than half the price of Apple's comparable iPhone.

Nokia's new phone has a similar full-length touchscreen and virtual keyboard as the ground-breaking iPhone, but lacks the multi-touch "pinch" technology to zoom in on images and websites.

The 5800's screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone, but Nokia's phone includes a 3.2 megapixel camera which can also shoot video (iPhone's camera is just 2 megapixels, and doesn't do video).
The 5800's Symbian OS web browser also supports the common Adobe Flash web technology, which is notoriously absent from even the latest versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Nokia's inclusion of Flash could help force Apple's hand, with the company having refused to give in to user demands up until now.

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Labour First proud of running the country into the ground

Treasury has opened the New Zealand Government's books, revealing the country is set for a massive $30 billion deficit over the next 5 years... if the programme set down by the Labour-led minority coalition isn't altered.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen seemed rather proud of the grim figures, with the Government's operating balances predicted to enter the red for the first time since 1994, hitting $3.2 billion in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Cullen blamed "skyrocketing global oil and food prices over the past 18 months", and international credit costs for the impact on the housing market and business here... but didn't accept any blame for massively increasingly Government spending or increasing New Zealand's tax take over the past 9 years.

It has taken the Labour-led administration almost a decade of putting on hundreds of brakes, but they have finally succeeded in sending the country into high speed reverse, after hard work by previous administrations to put New Zealand on the right path.
Being the proud socialist that he is, Cullen tried to claim this was the not time for "a slash and burn response" to government spending... although he did admit there would have to be a review of "low priority" spending.

That is the big problem New Zealand faces, even if the National Party succeeds in leading the next Government. Under Johnboy Key, National have agreed to continue Labour's crazy spending spree, and have shown little interest in slashing Government spending to much more prudent levels.

The ACT Party and the Libertarianz have both suggested lists of government departments that could be easily closed, without affecting how the country runs. (ACT's policy under Roger Douglas is unfortunately far less ambitious than the Libertarianz, but at least it's a start).
State spending and bureaucracy is out of control, and the incoming government needs the Guts to do what's Right. Let hard working New Zealanders keep more of their own money, and stop flushing it down the toilet on wasteful state spending.

This weekend PM Hillin Cluck revealed her utter arrogance and lack of understanding that it is other people's money she is recklessly spending, as she visited the Auckland markets.
A NZ Herald article reports she told shoppers at the Avondale yesterday to "reject and laugh at National's tax policy - regardless of the size of cuts"!!

Cluck has presided over some of the largest increases in state spending since the Muldoon era, and has very little to show for the extra billions her administration has stolen from ordinary kiwis.

* No Minster has a good post and a summary of the mood of the blogosphere here... (albeit with some false hope that the TV media will actually understand the real problem, and "explain tonight how Liarbour got us into this mess". Fat chance!)

* NZ Herald: Government set for $30b deficit over next five years

* The Libertarianz have a great Tax Calculator that will simultaneously shock you and make you cry at the unnecessary wasting of your hard-earned money... Just enter your annual income, and click "Pillage" to find out exactly how Liarbour First are wasting your own money!!

(The Libertarianz note that the 3rd largest category in Government spending (after Social Security/Welfare and Core Govt Spending) is described as 'No Functional Classification'... which covers such things as 'Provision for Retirement and Long Service Leave' by the Department of Conservation, and 'Acquisition of Textphone Equipment' by the Ministry for Economic Development...)

* A GAME for the Whole Family: Whack both Hillin Cluck and Johnboy!...

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Sunday, 5 October 2008

Why can't NZ be more like Epsom?

The Sunday Star Times has a (rare) good article this morning, about ACT Party leader Rodney Hide. The paper followed him as he campaigned on the streets of Remuera for ACT and for his re-election in the seat of Epsom.

Hide, 51, leader of the Act Party, MP for Epsom, moved along the pavement with pretty little steps and a winning smile on his tanned, tight-skinned dial. He asked: "Vote for me?" He handed out Act leaflets. Few resisted.

Many welcomed the chance to shake his hand. He was among friends; when Hide won Epsom in the last election, he beat his opponent, National's Richard Worth, at all six polling booths in Remuera.
Sporting his eye-catching Yellow suit jacket, ACT's Rodney Hide proved he has supporters of all ages, and both male and female...

"Hello, sir. Vote for me?" The [elderly] man replied, "I bloody well will. Keeping sticking it to Winston. Get him out of parliament and into jail. It's where that bastard belongs..."

Next, a young man in a striped shirt and wraparound sunglasses. Hide had barely opened his mouth when the man said, "Fantastic! Nice to meet you, actually. I'll tell you why I'm voting for Act. First, your policy of zero tolerance on crime. Secondly, what you're always saying about less bureaucracy. And I love your stance on Winston."

Next, a middle-aged businessman who waved away Hide's offer of a leaflet and said, "It's all right. You don't have to bother. You've got my vote." Hide said, "Good on you!" The man replied, "No, good on you. We need someone right of centre in parliament instead of that lesbian government we've got."

Now that's what I call real New Zealanders. People who really care and want New Zealand to become a great country... not just the embarrassing little Pacific Island Dictatorship that it has become over the last decade or so.

Hide isn't always right... He does tell the reporter that he has "huge respect for Helen Clark. I think she's an amazing woman. I have huge respect for Michael Cullen, too. And I've always liked Annette King. There's no one in Labour I disrespect."
However he does admit he "struggles with Trevor Mallard. I think he's just nasty for the sake of being nasty." Yup. There's at few more sitting Labour MPs you could add to that list. (Thankfully, Steve Maharey has already exited the building).

Reading the article, I must admit I get frustrated by New Zealand's current voting system. The problem with a "democracy" (that's the theory of what NZ has anyway), is that it assumes the majority know what's good for them.

And as the sensible people know, the majority often don't really know what's good for them... and unfortunately they are easily distracted by attractive-looking bribes, without realising they'll actually be paying for those bribes through increased taxes/duties/fees/other-socialist-controls.

I do have some sympathy for New Zealand's original electoral system, which restricted voting to Land Owners, or those paying rent over a certain amount. Back in the 1850's there were no separatist "Maori seats"... something only introduced in 1867 as a "temporary measure".

We can at least take heart from an article in yesterday's Dominion Post, which revealed the upcoming General Election drew "a collective yawn from many potential young voters" in Wellington.

While perhaps disappointing (and probably a reflection on New Zealand's falling education standards, and lack of focus on "real" subjects in school), it does save the country from several thousand "protest" votes from young voters ticking "Green" simply because their teachers have drilled them in the false religions of "Climate Change" and "Political Correctness".

* Sunday Star Times: Who can say no to Rodney Hide?

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