I saw last night’s episode, and it wasn’t too bad. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t like it and I’ll never watch it again but in terms of news value it didn’t seem worse than your average episode of Close-Up. The first story was about youth binge drinking – as was every other episode of Close-Up – with the usual stock-footage of kids stumbling around plastered, slurring amusing things to the camera. The context was that the government’s alcohol reforms weren’t going to fix this, but they didn’t explain what the reforms were, or weren’t.
The interview was with a PR shill from the alcohol industry. The presenters didn’t seem to know anything about the subject so the shill was unchallenged. Greg Boyd’s done well-prepped interviews on Q & A, so I blame the producer and the researcher.
As many others have pointed out, the tone is a bit weird; the opening segment contained a joke about Oscar Pistorius, and normally I’d find a gag about an athlete murdering his girlfriend hilarious, but this one didn’t quite work for me. And they haven’t solved the technical challenges of a three person hosted live-show; that’s still a bit of a mess. But these things take time. Remember Paddy Gower’s first few months of TV journalism? It was pretty bad, and now he’s the Mother of the Nation.
Much has been made of the fact that they lost 200,000 viewers in a week. If they’re losing those viewers from TV1’s older demographic I doubt they care. Those people don’t buy the products that Seven Sharp’s advertisers sell. If they lose 200,000 viewers over fifty and gain 50,000 viewers under 30 then that’s a ratings win for TVNZ.
(From my perspective, at least) is that his brilliant scheme for a one billion person global no-fly list was vexed to idiocy when this vacuum-eyed buffoon tried to carry a knife on board a passenger aircraft and the security officers confiscated it:
Prosser, 45, penned a provocative column for Investigate magazine titled Enemy of the State after his pocket knife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport.
He wrote: “I will not stand by while their [his daughters'] rights and freedoms of other New Zealanders and Westerners are denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan.
New Zealand is considering sending potential asylum seekers to controversial Australian detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
The move would be an attempt to dissuade “boat people” from making the journey to New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key said.
During the weekend, Mr Key and his Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, announced New Zealand would take 150 asylum seekers from Australian detention centres each year.
“I wanted to do this, I think it’s the right thing to do . . . my view is that we are helping our mates,” Mr Key said.
This makes so much sense. If ‘boat people’ arrive in Australia they get sent to New Zealand, and if they arrive in New Zealand they get sent to Australian detention centers in PNG or Nauru, because we want to dissuade boat people from coming here, even though none ever have, and we’re doing that by accepting a hundred and fifty boat people a year.
Key looked like an imbecile on the news last night trying to justify all of this, with a subsequent graphic showing the route from Indonesia to New Zealand and the ten-thousand odd kilometer detour required to avoid Australia, and he looked like he knew it.
So what’s really going on? My uninformed guess is that we’ve just been bullied by an Australian PM with a tricky domestic issue who is heading into an uncertain election, that Key had no choice but to accept this ‘deal’, which was probably more of a threat, and they’ve resurrected their nonsensical ‘boat people are a’comin’ scare story to try and frame it positively.
Josie Pagani has a post up on Pundit regurgitating her one big idea about political strategy: that Labour needs to move to the right and embrace National’s ‘get tough’ policies on crime and welfare.
The Paganis have been saying this for years and it still makes very little sense to me. The National Party wants to get tough on welfare, criminals (and teachers) to distract people from their actual policies, or the failures thereof. The number of unemployed rises and falls with the economy, crime has been trending down for many years across the entire western world, and our education system is regularly rated as one of the best in the OECD.
If you’re a National politician you try and solve these problems that don’t actually exist because it’s part of a wider strategy to promote other policies that are unpopular with the general public but benefit your donors and core voter demographics. But why would a (nominally) left-wing politician buy into that scam? Why not address real problems that would help your constituency? Or, failing that, create your own fake problems that advance your own political agenda instead of your opponents? Or – if you’re not inclined to help your voters or advance your own values – just leave politics and go and do something else with your life? I genuinely don’t get it.
Update: Josie responds. Opening quote:
If you think crime, welfare and unemployment are ‘problems that don’t actually exist’ you are out of touch with the facts as well as public opinion.
TVNZ and Radio New Zealand have done a couple of stories reporting on the leaked Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM) which the Ministry of Education supplied to Steven Joyce about the Novopay debacle. They’ve focused on the Ministry’s warning that Novopay could take 1-2 years to get working properly. I’ve also received a copy of this document, and I was more interested in the Ministry’s summary of what actually went wrong. Briefly:
- Novopay is designed so that schools do everything online (presumably through a browser or thin client). When the platform was launched there were ‘significant issues’ with the online user interface (UI); for example, it wasn’t possible to submit time-sheets for part-time teachers.
- The work-around for problems submitting payments via the UI was for the schools to fill in a form and submit it to Talent2’s Novapay service desk via e-mail, and they’d manually enter the payment data into the system.
- But the service desk wasn’t staffed or trained for this – they were supposed to be supporting an online platform in which the schools did almost everything themselves. So this created a huge backlog of manual payments for them to enter, many of which missed the payrolls.
- The service center also generated a vast number of errors in payments because it doesn’t have ‘robust quality assurance’ (I take this to mean there’s no verification when service center staff manually submit data: so if someone is being paid $20/hour and they work for ten hours, the manual system won’t prevent a service center staffer from accidentally paying them $2.00)
- Talent2 aren’t able to produce complete draft payrolls for the schools to QA, so these errors aren’t picked up before the payroll data goes live.
- The briefing is contradictory on the state of the programming defects in Novopay. The background summary insists that the problems leading to the huge submission of manual forms have been fixed, but in a subsequent section on software defects the Minister is told that new defects continue to come to light, and Talent2 have been unable to fix the existing problems. (I get the feeling they’ve been relying on manual work-arounds, rather than debugging the actual code.)
The Ministry’s solution is to put more resources into the service center while Talent2 fixes up software bugs via a release code schedule (I get the impression the extra software engineering cost is being met by the Ministry).
If anything will resolve the high exchange rate, urban housing crisis, low wages and exodus to Australia, surely it’s convict labour.
I don’t have any moral/philosophical objection to making prisoners work to offset the cost of their imprisonment, or help skill them up to re-integrate them ‘back into society’, but if you combine it with National’s policy of private prison management, it’s not hard to see how the goals of rehabilitating and releasing prisoners could clash with the prospect of having a subsidised compulsory zero-cost workforce.
If you are in a car and there is a rush of blood to the head and Labour and the Greens do get there, you had better like your radio station because you will spend a long time in a traffic jam, because the first thing that will be gone with those people are the roads.
Prime Minister John Key in his Opening Statement to Parliament yesterday, in which the PM traditionally lays out his policy agenda for the year, our current Prime Minister . . . not so much.
Phil Heatley will be sacked from Cabinet.
David Carter will be nominated Speaker of the House.
In mid May, construction crews operating in Christchurch’s red zone will excavate the basement of a demolished butcher to find a human skeleton buried in a shallow grave beneath the concrete floor. Forensic analysis will determine that the skeleton is that of a male in his late teens or early twenties, that this person died approximately thirty years ago, and that they were buried alive. The skeleton’s teeth will be compared to the dental records kept by Christchurch schools prior to the period and perfectly match those of ex-Burnside student John Key.
Winston Peters and the new Speaker will clash.
David Shearer’s SOTU speech is here. There’s nothing new in terms of policy, but in value terms it promotes contemporary center-left values, a huge contrast from Shearer’s repeated bizarre attempts in 2012 to win over disaffected ACT voters.
His main critique of the National government is that it’s ‘hands off’. DPF rebutted this argument last week, pointing out the many ways in which National is a ‘hands-on’ government, and in an enormous coincidence the Prime Minister made exactly the same points a few hours later.
I agree with whoever wrote DPF’s post and John Key’s speech – it’s not credible to attack the government’s lack of involvement in the economy when they’re spending $400 million dollars on irrigation in Canterbury, $1.5 billion on broadband, how ever many dozens of billions the Roads of National Significance is costing, and so-on, and so-on. This is not a neo-liberal government.
And looking at ACT’s polling, it seems obvious that the political will for a neo-liberal economic model is dead; the debate is now about what kind of welfare state we want to move towards: a traditional model in the democratic socialist tradition, or a corporate welfare model in which benefits and services are directed away from individuals and into the business sector. I guess you could look at contemporary China or 1960s South Korea as exemplars.
I’m not opposed to this second approach – wouldn’t it be great if we were a country with loads of great, high-paying export focused jobs! But most of National’s corporate welfare measures look like white elephants: roads to nowhere that won’t return the cost of the investment, stadium and convention center boondoggles, etc. It seems to be driven by which sectors of the economy are more effective lobbyists rather than any coherent vision.
John Key’s State of the Nation speech is here. I await John Armstrong’s coverage of the speech with interest. He’s welcome to use this opening paragraph if he’s on a tight deadline.
Bulls bellowed; sticks transformed into snakes; stars flared and died; dry rivers flooded and fallow fields bloomed into life after Prime Minister John Key addressed the North Harbour Club today.