The Dim-Post

July 31, 2009

Goose sworn in as new opposition leader

Filed under: Politics,satire,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:04 am

Tiberius flew from the House yesterday and spent the afternoon scrounging for insects at an estuary, a move that has proved wildly popular with political commentators and the public

Citing the importance of robust opposition to a healthy democracy and the Labour party’s poor performance in holding the government to account, the Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand took the unusual step of directly intervening in the affairs of Parliament, making changes to the house that have shocked some but drawn praise from many political and legal experts.

Emphasising Labour’s lacklustre record and the importance of an opposition party in scrutinising Ministers actions and speaking truth to power the Governor General dismissed Mr Goff and the rest of his Labour MPs and on the same day swore in ‘Tiberius’, a four year old domestic Grey Goose who will act as opposition leader and sole opposition MP.

Although the move has drawn criticism from union leaders Mr Goff has cautiously welcomed the change. Constitutional lawyers have confirmed that Sir Anand is acting within his rights, citing a rarely used English law dating back to the period of Henry I, which allows the Regent to appoint ‘any barneyard animale, be he mayle true and not swyne not goat nor sheep, to ryse in dredful joye to jydge amung ye greatest’.

‘I think that is very clear,’ the Governor General told reporters at a brief press conference earlier this week. Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith has thrown his support behind the controversial move, although critics point to the Speaker’s longstanding friendship with Tiberius the Goose and question the politics behind the decision.

Before entering Parliament Tiberius lived on a fruit orchard near Otaki where his duties included eating algea and protecting a blueberry patch from sparrows. He also served on the Board of Directors for Meridian Energy.

The new MP has already made a strong impression on the government and its coalition partners; when Justice Minister Simon Power rose yesterday to introduce his new Search and Surveillance bill he was met with a tremendous quacking, honking sound, made by former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons; the sound awoke Tiberius who rose on his hind legs and rustled his six-foot long wings at Mr Power who then withdrew from the Chamber. The bill was defeated and will not proceed to Select Committee.

Tiberius has formed a strong relationship with the Maori Party, accompanying Hone Harawira for lunchtime walks around Wellington’s Botanic gardens and frightening away a stray border collie that had been digging up the rose beds outside Pita Sharples’ Thordon residence.

The new opposition leader appears to have cooler relationships with Progressive’s leader Jim Anderton and United Future leader Peter Dunne, whom Tiberius chased across the Parliament lawn earlier this week before trapping him in a dead end near the Beehive annex, hissing and pecking at the Revenue Minister for nearly an hour. Sources close to Mr Dunne revealed that he has had several acrimonious encounters with Tiberius before the goose entered Parliament.

According to a Roy Morgan poll commissioned earlier this week and released today, Tiberius has proved an instant hit with most voters; although the formidable ‘people-who-hate-geese’ demographic has swung to National and ACT that has been more than offset by the centrist voters who are attracted to Tiberius’s bright white feathers and distinctive waddle when he walks. The poll suggests that if the election were held tomorrow Tiberius would be able to form a coalition with either the Greens or Maori Party, and a majority of voters cited a broad, rounded bill, extensive wingspan and powerful webbed feet as the most important qualities they sought in a leader.

July 30, 2009

The man in the high castle

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 4:39 pm


Former National Party leader Don Brash, put in charge of a taskforce to look at ways of closing the economic gap with Australia, says the task is “arguably the biggest challenge New Zealand has faced since the Second World War”.

Like everything Dr Brash says this seems transparently absurd – if we fail to close the economic gap with Australia then New Zealand will remain a very pleasant place to live, just with lower wages and worse savings than our nearest neighbour; if we failed to be on the winning side in WWII our nation would likely have been absorbed into the ‘Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere’ and the population been made the slaves of the Japanese Empire. The stakes don’t really seem comparable.

We are the most remote nation in the world, Australia has massive mineral wealth and close proximity to some of the fastest growing economies in history – if the Brash taskforce can come up with a plan to overcome those obstacles then I’m all ears, until then this whole exercise just seems pointless.

Coq au vin

Filed under: finance — danylmc @ 3:25 pm

How did I become so middle class? I read stories about house prices and I just bought a slow cooker.

Reflecting on the price rise predictions I realise I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Bernard Hickey. At the end of last year Hickey was ubiquitous in the media, frantically warning people get out of the property market because values were going to fall by 30% and not recover for another ten years:

It is a debt death spiral that can only stop when asset values stop falling or capital has been replenished with enough cash. Essentially, this is the de-leveraging tsunami that sucks debt out of the property market and then destroys the value of that property.

So following the ‘always do the opposite of what Time Magazine recommends‘ principle I figured it would be a good time to buy. There were a lot of houses for sale, almost all of them belonging to panicked property investors and virtually nobody was buying – because by this stage everyone ‘knew’ prices were going to fall by another 30%. We got our place for about 15% below GV, six months on similar houses in our neighbourhood seem to be going for about 5% over GV.

I see Bernard Hickey has recently walked back from his dire predictions but I’m incredibly grateful to him for making them, the poor guy who sold me my house (a professional fund manager, natch) probably less so. The slow-cooker now occupies a place of pride in my new kitchen. I’m making coq au vin this weekend.

The new place isn’t perfect – there’s no insulation – and it seems impossible that I haven’t blogged about heating or insulation yet since in the real world it’s all I’ve been able to talk about for several months now. So at some stage I’ll have to write up a long, intensely boring spiel about insulation materials and energy efficient heating.

We attack under cover of daylight

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:38 am

Bennett pivots. While there’s a lot of hatred out there towards beneficiaries it comes from a fairly small but vocal minority who are fiercely loyal to the National Party; much larger (in number) are the female swing voters who know that they could wind up on the DPB themselves if their marriage fails or their partner dies. Bennett’s comments yesterday and today are aimed at reassuring them.

I think it’s safe to say National has won this battle. I’m always impressed at the Labour Party’s ability to get into a fight they can’t lose and then lose it.

I guess we have to wait for the outcome of the privacy complaint to see where this story goes next; it seems likely that Bennett will be found to have broken the law, and it also seems likely that Labour will find some way to use the finding to embarrass themselves and cover Bennett in glory.

July 29, 2009

Question 5

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 12:49 pm

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What criteria, if any, has she established for the release of personal information about beneficiaries?

I maintain Labour are making a tactical error by focusing on beneficiaries; this should be a question from Goff to the Prime Minister asking what criteria, if any he has established for the release of the personal information about New Zealanders by his cabinet Ministers. I realise they want more footage of Bennett’s stammering, witless replies to Charles Chauvel’s supplementaries but surely it would have been worth sacrificing another question to get both in.

A precedent!

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:58 am

One of the talking points around Bennett’s probable breach of the privacy act is that Labour did the same thing all the time, they just didn’t get caught. The problem with that is that while Labour did leak confidential information all the time I couldn’t actually think of a single instance of a media outlet publishing private material about individuals. Radio New Zealand political reporter Jane Patterson raised the issue of Lianne Dalziel leaking a lawyers notes regarding an immigration case to TV3, which Dalziel lied about and was forced to resign over. It’s not a perfect comparison but so far it stands as the only valid example of Labour Ministers doing this; however it also means there’s a precedent of them being sacked when they get caught.

Obvious but worth pointing out

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:36 am

From Claire’s story in the Herald this morning:


Ms Bennett said her decision to reveal the extent of the help the state already provided the women was justified because they had repeatedly used their personal circumstances to speak out.

This is what the Labour Party needs to focus on. Many people are unsympathetic to beneficiaries, so I don’t think accusations of ‘beneficiary bashing’ have much traction: but if they make the point that this exposes all New Zealanders who speak out to attack then that has real resonance. Don’t like Bill English cancelling tax cuts and complain about it? The government feels it can publish details of your tax records. Aren’t happy with the service you recieve at the hospital and go the the media? Don’t like the government’s decision on Herceptin funding? In either case John Key will be ‘comfortable’ with the Minister of Health publishing your private medical records, because merely by speaking out you have given ‘implied consent’ for him to do so.

I’m disappointed but not surprised to see bloggers on the right line up behind Bennett: I feel that this isn’t about Labour vs National but about the power of the state vs the rights of the individual. Labour will be back in power sooner or later and if Bennett is allowed to set this precedent then Labour will gleefully use confidential information to fuck over anyone who speaks out against them, cheerfully arguing that their victim ‘implied consent’ by engaging in public debate.

July 28, 2009

Bennett round-up

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:08 pm

I’m never home in time to watch the news but I made a special effort tonight and streamed it on my work computer. Fran Mold and Duncan Garner both regurgitated identical nonsense about how Bennett was a battler who was ‘being staunch’ and that Ministers revealing confidential information to the media was no big deal. Idiots.

(Incidentally, the ‘live crosses’ that both networks love are even sillier in the middle of winter when the cross is always to a reporter standing on a street in pitch darkness somewhere. After three or four of these in a row I felt like I was watching a Monty Python skit.)

Charles Chauvel is complaining to the Privacy Commissioner about Bennett. This could go either way: she might find that giving confidential information to the country’s largest newspaper is such a violation of rights that each woman is entitled to a seven figure payout; it seems more likely she will conclude that the Minister ‘did not follow procedure’ and meekly recommend that a committee be set up to clarify the law for future reference.

Key has stood by his Minister so it’s hard to see her getting sacked – the risk is that the Prime Minister will look like a fool if Bennett is found to have broken the law and the PM was ‘relaxed and comfortable’ about it.


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 4:01 pm

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

Thinking about it, it seems to me that Phil Goff and Paula Bennett have both made essentially the same mistake in the past two weeks: Goff went hard on the Bruce Burgess story without checking the facts because the optics of the story – a hardworking man in the Prime Minister’s electorate discriminated against by the government – were so juicy. I don’t think Bennett’s decision to release confidential information had anything, really, to do with intimidation or revenge against the women whose privacy she has violated – they were entirely incidental – I think she wanted to embarrass her political opponents and saw what she must have thought was a golden opportunity to land a possibly fatal blow against Goff’s leadership. Bennett and Goff both had their political judgement clouded by the prospect of a killer headline; Bennett’s case is far more serious, obviously, but the root cause – an obsession with media optics and spin over good governance – is the same.

Update: Lew makes a similar point:

It occurs to me that this is a political n00b’s monkey-see-monkey-do response to the Burgess case, where Labour and the media released some but not all details, and National used the remainder of the details to invalidate the political points being made. The differences with this case are that someone’s property holdings are a matter of public record, not information held by the government; and even if they were, property holdings are directly relevant (implied consent clearly applies) since the issue at hand hinged on the Burgesses losing their house, a matter which they brought into the public sphere. I reckon Bennett saw what a big win the government had with the Burgess case, figured she’d do the same with this case, and overreached.

Question 4

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:48 pm

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does she stand by her statement “I will back those women into work and meaningful employment every time”?

The stakes here are incredibly high – the right to privacy, the right to free speech without fear of state reprisal – please don’t let Labour fuck this up.

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