Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sexual equality in Australia?

Stuff has published an AAP report that says "Australian women are as keen as men to take part in consensual group sex, and they initiate it almost as often".

Albeit this is a survey from an online dating site - so there is nothing scientific about it.

"80 percent reporting nothing but fun, with everyone's rights being respected." which of course you couldn't know unless all those involved were surveyed.

Though RedHotPie.com.au (!) "relationship expert" Geoff Barker says "This kind of thing has been going on since Adam and Eve," which of course begs the question. How?? Adam and Eve does not a group make - and the next people were their offspring, which takes it down a whole different path.

Funnily enough, I don't believe any of this has ever been illegal in NZ - it isn't illegal to portray it at all, despite it shocking and upsetting people. Although I don't think NZ has gone down the British path, as I think many Kiwis wouldn't know what dogging is (or they'd think it has something to do with dogs). It seems like a peculiarly British pastime for strangers to go to car parks or parks and have anonymous sex with each other, in groups sometimes. Although I understand the Germans are rather keen too.

What did you really expect?

From Bill English? The man who brought National to its worst ever electoral result in 2002, the man who couldn't make political capital from Labour increasing taxes, returning ACC's statutory monopoly, pushing away foreign investment so that it could nationalise Air NZ, wasting enormous amounts of money on health for little gain.

After all in this budget he said "We have continued to invest in rail. Budget 2009 includes $115 million to fund Kiwirail’s purchase of 20 new locomotives and to provide it with access to working capital. In Budget 2009 we are announcing an additional $90 million of operating support for KiwiRail."

Invest? Who would trust a man who regards pouring bad money after bad down a plughole to be an investment? Operating support? It's a fucking loss. Tell it like it is - you've been lumbered with an entity that bleeds red, and you either need to keep it limping along till it is sold, or start cutting off the limbs that bleed.

No tax cuts, but there is $290 million to subsidise those who like watching Youtube, Xtube, Sextube or whatever - because they needed support didn't they? (maybe it's also why the censorship office is getting a massive boost, when it might have been easier to tightly focus it on material involving real crimes, not drawings, painting and written matter).

Of course there is more money to pour down the health black hole - which most of you tend to support, and which seems to do sweet nothing for health outcomes. More money for education, propping up a system that continues to not want accountability for teachers' pay or choice for parents.

A lot of money to subsidise people to insulate their homes - something the Greens like - rewarding people for doing what they like, by penalising those who already did it, or never want to.

Some trinkets for Maori - $42 million of specific spending - obviously enough to keep the Maori Party happy (though Maori "benefit" from health, education and law and order spending of course).

It's obvious Working for Families should have been abolished, in favour of retaining the tax cuts.

Another obvious step would be to prohibit people on welfare from claiming extra if they have more children, or for those convicted of violent offences to be ineligible from claiming welfare, but no.

Dr Cullen has delivered a budget where more is spent, when there was a real need to trim back the profligacy of the past, and which defers giving people back more of their own money.

Oh this time ACT voted for it too. Although you'd think Sir Roger Douglas reckons he is still in Opposition with this wonderful stuff:

"The tax cuts that have been shelved cost under $1 billion. Government spending in the 09/10 year is over $65 billion. In other words, the Government needed to find just 1.5 percent of waste to deliver their tax cuts. This is against a backdrop where Government spending is, in real terms, $18 billion dollars higher than it was nine years ago."

In other words, it would have taken little real effort to deliver cuts

"Health spending in nominal terms is set to increase by over eight percent. Nothing is being done about the incentives in the system, which under Labour saw spending increase by 50 percent, but productivity for doctors and nurses dive 15 and 11 percent respectively."

Yes - not the slightest willingness to confront the failures of the status quo.

Finally, the lack of courage to confront the deficit is appalling:

"The current level of Government deficit is one third what it was in 1984. Back in 1984, we managed to get the books back into the black within 3 years. Today, with a deficit one third of the size it was then, it is going to take 11 years to get back to surplus."

Now if you really want something different, try the Libz alternative budget, giving most of you an income tax free income (ACT once stood for that).

Let's be clear, if National relied on Libz for confidence and supply at the moment, there would be tax cuts.

So in Mt. Albert if you supported ACT, and supported National for tax cuts, you really only have one choice - Julian Pistorius. If Julian became the first Libz MP, then you'd have far more confidence at the next election that a vote for Libertarianz would hold the next government accountable. After all, what has ACT got to show for its efforts in this budget?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So what about the European elections?

Every year part of local government in the UK is up for election, and this year it also coincides with the election of representatives to the European Parliament.

The local election for me is simple, I have to choose one candidate between Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Labour is contemptible, the Greens are unimaginable, the Liberal Democrats are liberal with my money, so Conservative is the best of a bad lot.

The European elections are a bit different. It uses proportional representation with party lists, and the UK is split into 12 constituencies. The PR method of allocating seats is the d'Hondt method, which in explained here. In effect there isn't a threshold, rather each constituency has a number of seats to be won, so seats are allocated proportionately.

At the moment, the parties representing the UK in the European Parliament are:
Conservative 27
Labour 19
Liberal Democrats 12
UK Independence Party 12
Scottish National Party 2
Green Party (England/Wales) 2
Plaid Cymru 1
Ulster Unionists 1
Democratic Unionists 1
Sinn Fein 1

So while there have been 78 MEPs, no party has anything close to a majority.

MEPs form "blocs" of common political interest.

The biggest bloc is the "European People's Party - European Democrats" grouping, which is conservative centre-right. In the UK, this includes the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists. It is fair to say the bloc is split between pro-European Christian Democrats and the Euro-sceptic European Democrats, the Tories are in the latter, so this is hardly a unified bloc.

The second biggest bloc is the "Party of European Socialists" which forms the leftwing bloc. In the UK, the Labour Party is a member.

The third bloc is the "European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party" which forms a liberal bloc, sitting between the first two. It is made up of a diverse lot as well, with the ACT like Free Democrats of Germany, and the pro private enterprise small government People's Party for Freedom and Democracy of the Netherlands on the one hand, whilst in the UK it is the "left of Labour" Liberal Democrats who represent it, and in France the centrist (do nothing) UDF.

The fourth bloc is the "European Greens- European Free Alliance" part of which is self explanatory with green parties, but it also strangely includes "stateless nations", in other words leftwing nationalism. The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru are both in this group (as are Basque separatists from Spain).

The fifth bloc is the "European United Left - Nordic Green Left" bloc, essentially communist and hard left parties. It includes The Left (successor to the Socialist Unity Party which was the communist party of East Germany), French Communist Party and in the UK, Sinn Fein represents it.

The sixth bloc is the "Independent/Democracy" group basically Eurosceptic parties. UKIP sits comfortably here.

The seventh bloc is the "Union for Europe of the Nations" which is another conservative bloc, more socially conservative. No UK parties in the European Parliament belong to it.

So from that I have a choice of 14 parties and one independent. So who are they then?

Animals Count: Basically campaigning on animal welfare as a single issue, includes granting animals the legal status as sentient beings. A nice message of kindness to animals, which means putting them ahead of human welfare. So that's a no then. No chance of success.

BNP: Yes, the racist party when you're not having a racist party. It wont let British citizens born in Britain, who aren't white, to be members. On top of its opposition to immigration, and promotion of encouraging non-white citizens and residents to leave, it has a highly socialist agenda of nationalised industries, education and healthcare, as well as national military service. There is a message of opposing appeasement of Islamists, but this is a bunch of white trash poorly educated malcontents who are personal failures that project their poor self esteem into hatred of foreigner. Ugh. However there is a reasonable chance of success this time.

Christian Party/Christian People's Alliance: A clearly Christian conservative agenda, which seems to combine transparency with radical environmentalism, banning abortion, voluntary euthanasia and apparently promoting a quasi theocratic view of the EU. Um, no. Again no chance of success.

Conservative: Well you know them, demanding a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and wanting less EU influence over member states. However, is this really about significant change? Conservatives are likely to do very well though.

English Democrats: Believe in England having its own Parliament, and withdrawal from the EU (but membership of EFTA), free vote on social issues, opposition to mass immigration. BNP without racism and without the socialist agenda. The nationalism puts me off, but it has little chance of success.

Greens: UK branch of big government intervention in the economy, statist health and education, more welfare, more tax, legalising cannabis (and eventually all drugs) and scepticism of action against Islamism. Likely to do well as Labour supporters direct protest votes to them, and spreads the usual phobias around electricity, recycling, transport and trade.

Jury Team: Party based purely on selecting politicians by public referendum, interested in representation by people not parties. So why support it? Who knows, and that is likely to be reflected in the result.

Labour: The status quo. Not worth saying anymore about that. Labour is likely to be slaughtered this European election, I expect it could well slip to fourth behind the Lib Dems and UKIP.

Liberal Democrats: Embrace Europe, embrace pan-European laws and programmes. Talk of civil liberties, whilst also embracing the environmentalist agenda and welfarism. Likely to be where many unhappy Labour voters place their tick. Will seek to come second, but faces a tough battle with UKIP.

NO2EU
: A cleverly branded socialist opposition to EU membership, because it sees it as a bastion of capitalism and free trade, which is opposes. Think BNP without the racism again. It is opposed to privatisation, open borders, the Euro for the UK. One of the members is the Community Party of Britain, which blames the tyranny in the Soviet Union on "encirclement by imperialism" Enough said, apologists for murderers. No chance.

Pro-democracy: Libertas.eu: This one intrigues me, it appears to be for cutting the size of the EU, a higher level of democratic accountability for the EU and is a pan-European party with branches in all EU countries. It is endorsed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, which is fairly positive for me. It believes in an EU that only deals with matters that need to be agreed between states. Sadly I think its chances are slim, and its emptiness of philosophy (mostly it is about more democracy and less EU) is disappointing. If I don't vote Libertas, it will almost certainly be my second choice.

Socialist Labour Party
: Arthur Scargill's vile party of moaning lazy socialists. A party once dominated by proud Stalinists, until Scargill expelled them because he wanted full control, but he halved his party as a result. Scargill is a denier of Stalin's mass murders and regarded unions as needing to be run as dictatorships that would tolerate no dissent. He believed the 9/11 attacks were undertaken by the Bush Administration itself. This vile little man wont get anywhere in the European elections, thankfully. Although the youth section looks like a party club, science club or somewhere to perv at girls' legs.

UK First Party
: The party with the least information, and the least chance. Anti immigration, less tax, less welfare, withdrawal from the EU in favour of EFTA, removal of "hate crime" legislation. BNP lite with some liberalism? No chance.

UKIP: Withdrawal from the EU basically IS the policy, and I was going to vote UKIP, because it is the most principled stance to take. Britain should be in a free trade agreement, but not subject to the leftwing agenda that permeates Brussels (tempered only by some promotion of competition within the EU). UKIP supports fundamental reform of the gravy train of the European Parliament. However, the UKIP ads didn't inspire. One ad said "the EU prohibits the British government from providing financial support to the Post Office to keep post offices open, and forces it to open it to competition". My response was "good". Another ad talked of how the money paid to the EU (£40 million a day) could go into hospitals, schools and abolishing university fees - not tax cuts. It ignored how part of that did come back to the UK in agricultural subsidies. So screw that, UKIP can go to hell. I want my taxes back, I don't want to protect the poorly performing Royal Mail or subsidise feather bedded university students.

So is it Libertas or the Conservatives? Is it a statement of principle that wont get elected, or the least worst option that will be elected? I have a couple of days to decide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Korea goes on an explosive spree

First a nuclear test, now a couple of missiles, you'd think Kim Jong Il was desperate for attention.

Well he is.

That's all it is about. He wants attention, and to be given millions of dollars to keep calm and not threaten south Korea, Japan and the USA. The truth is he is highly unlikely to do anything more than do a few tests and shoot the odd missile into the sky. So he simply shouldn't be bought out, but the US should make it very clear what happens if North Korea DOES attack - annihilation.

You see the only real option in response to any North Korean nuclear attack is massive retaliation - destroying Pyongyang, and the annihilation of military targets across the country. Kim Jong Il's faithful underlings need to know that if he wants to take them all down that path, they will face annihilation. There must be the full understanding that there is no hope of victory, that their legacy will have been to support a man who brought annihilation and death to Korea, and to themselves and their loved ones.

Indeed, it has been that threat that has kept the peace on the Korean peninsula since 1953 (by and large), and it is one the Obama Administration cannot flinch from.

I don't believe Kim Jong Il will do more than sabre rattle, as he just gets upset that North Korea hasn't got much modern technology and the people outside Pyongyang live an African peasant existence of subsistence, coupled with Orwellian fear and rampant corruption. He wants to frighten the world to give him aid. The world should resist. The only way forward for North Korea is openness and non-aggression - sadly the entire regime is the antithesis of both of these words. It is the most closed and most aggressive regime anywhere - aggressive towards its own people most of all!

Bill English terrifies the public

The Dominion Post quotes Finance Minister Bill English saying "People won't be finding a lot of money in their bank account after this one".

That's quite a threat.

You're going to be stealing from my bank account? Why should I NOT be finding a lot there?

However, given I hope I am joking, he's already promising to reward irresponsibility by committing fiscal child abuse to subsidise home insulation, for those who couldn't be arsed paying for it themselves. All because those living there are suffering health consequences. If it's your own home then tough - blame yourself for not keeping your home warm. If you are renting, then presumably you take into account paying less for rent to pay more for electricity, or do you need Nanny State to help you keep your home warm because you're incompetent? The Greens think so.

Meanwhile, Bill English's threat should be taken somewhat seriously - be ready to move your money if he really is raiding bank accounts!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Obama sticks a finger up New Zealand

The Obama Administration, true to form, has decided to subsidise dairy exports. Given the Bush Administration sought global agreement to abolish agricultural export subsidies (and the EU - meaning the French - didn't want to), it demonstrates a great leap backwards for international trade.
Yes, all you fawning cheerleaders of the great leftwing change merchant, he's basically told the efficient dairy industry in New Zealand to go fuck itself. Federated Farmers have already responded calling the US dairy lobby a "compost heap" (which has made Lindsay Perigo smile).
Ironic that Maryan Street is calling for strong protests, because I'd put a bet that she and the rest of the Labour caucus cheered Obama's election, despite his record in supporting higher agricultural subsidies being clear.
Yes, it shouldn't surprise. The Obama Administration is no friend of free trade, which means it is no friend of the economies of other countries. It's a friend of big fat taxpayer thieving mud rolling stinking pork - change you can believe in? Yep, if you believe in subsidising inefficient producers to screw US taxpayers, and efficient dairy producers the world over.
Thanks for nothing Mr President.

Greens support breaking traffic laws

After all, if a bunch of freeloaders can walk illegally on a motorway, and not face arrest, then you can start driving on bike lanes, in fact, why not do whatever you want on it?
The Greens endorsed it, so it's about time to see how many other traffic laws the Greens happily will let you break. Time I think for trucks to carry loads up to 62 tonnes on highways, as long as the truck can safely carry it. Speed as much as you like too. The Greens have decided it's better to break a law than propose a new one. The oath that Green MPs declared to uphold the law has slipped to one side when it comes to inciting people to break this one - odd for a party that is so keen on promoting new laws.
The message is clear:
1. If it's a motorway, fuck it, cyclists and walkers can use it (why is Auckland Harbour Bridge special?), screw what it does to the motorists paying to use it;
2. Who gives a shit who else your disrupt, like "a tanker carrying urgently needed oxygen to North Shore Hospital was stuck, until police organised a passage through".
3. If the Greens don't like the law, they don't introduce a bill into Parliament, you don't propose a change to traffic laws, you just tell people to break it.
Oh and if you think NZTA stuffed up, you might find it isn't legally empowered to exempt people from traffic rules - the fact it did so before for the Hikoi does not change that.
Let's be clear, I don't care either way if a walkway or cycleway is attached to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, as long as those who will use it pay for it. NZTA cannot authorise people to walk and cycle on a motorway, but it can remove motorway designation from the Auckland Harbour Bridge (but why do that?). However, this rather pathetic little protest is about people wanting to force you to pay for a facility for them to use - and not giving a damn about who they disrupt along the way.
Moreover, the party that wants to regulate, ban and compel so many things, suddenly thinks it's ok to break a rather straightforward law regarding safety. So wait for the day the Greens say it's ok to trespass on railway bridges and tunnels, and say that "the trains should have to wait for me".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irish scandal rocking government

The report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland is sending significant shockwaves through government and communities in Ireland. Quite rightly so.

One of the scandals behind this Commission is how the Congregation of Christian Brothers successfully sued the Commission to prevent its members being named in the report. What is that if it isn't institutional shame and coverup of crime? That ISN'T just individuals, it is a subset of the Church protecting its own. Indeed it appears the Christian Brothers have more allegations against them than any other group running institutions.

It appears there has been revelations of many more people coming forward since this report was published, with their own stories. It has opened a wound that not only implicates the Church, but also the State and indeed a past culture in Irish society that promoted a culture of silence and not questioning the authority of the Church IMBLATA (Irish Man Boy Love and Torture Association).

It would be nice if the Congregation of Christian Brothers would be excommunicated, and have their assets confiscated to help pay compensation to the victims. I look forward to the outraged Catholics demanding this - a cozy little club of child torturers and rapists.

In fact, why don't you email the Congregation of Christian Brothers in Ireland, the email addresses are here, and ask them to publish the names of those who abused children, to expel them from their organisation, to help the victims of abuse to prosecute them.

The point is simple, either the Church purges itself, or it will have slipped another mile down the moral authority scale.

Oh and don't even start to say "what about abortion". To even start to think that legal abortion (outside Ireland) excuses the torture of children on such a grand and systemic scale shows complete moral bankruptcy. It's never a defence to say "but you're not catching everyone who is evil".

Who is excluding Maori?

I note the image from this post on the Standard the specious claim that the new Auckland supercity (which I oppose) excludes Maori.

Not having preferential guaranteed representation based on race, when you have the same voting rights, same rights to stand candidates and be elected as everyone else, doesn't exclude - it simply means you are being treated the same.

No matter how some Maori paint it, any other option IS race based preference, it IS racism, and it is not what New Zealand in the 21st century should be embracing.

The matter of who your ancestors are should not give you privilege in government, and the idea that Maori need Maori to represent them is no more specious than to claim I need a brown haired blue eyed half Scottish, half English descent 30 something male who was adopted, with a double degree, mixed state and integrated Anglican education and is atheist, to represent me. Otherwise you think that political ideas are inherently dependent on race, which is a concept I'd rather was left back in history, like the Germans did in 1945.

BNP at Buckingham Palace?

It appears that members of the London Assembly have been invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which includes the BNP councillor Richard Barnbrook, who proposes taking as his guest BNP Leader Nick Griffin.

All a bit embarrassing, and Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to get it stopped. However I DO love the comment in the Guardian about it:

"Yeah, it's terrible that these people believe that certain individuals are inherently superior to others based entirely on their genetic heritage and thus deserve various state-sanctioned privileges, regardless of merit or ability.

And the BNP are crap, too."

After all, Prince Philip could probably more closely associate with the BNP than most politicians.

However the debate is amusing - some say in a democracy you put up with whoever gets elected, others think the BNP is disreputable (but I doubt they'd say the same about the vile RESPECT party of that traitor George Galloway). For me, I say it is up to the Queen who she invites, and if she wants to exclude Barnbrook or Griffin, then so be it - and it should be the advice of the Mayor and the London Assembly to encourage this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Irish state and Catholic Church complicit in abuse

The Irish Child Abuse Commission today released a report that according to The Times:

"catalogued sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on 35,000 disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children by both religious and lay staff over the last 70 years."

"Institutions run by religious orders, including industrial and reform schools, institutions for the disabled, orphanages and ordinary day schools have been examined by the Commission over the past nine years.

Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' schools, while in girls' schools children were subjected to predatory abuse by male employees, visitors and while on outside placements."

Apparently, whenever Roman Catholic church authorities were confronted with allegations that a member of the church had physically or sexually abused children, the response was to remove the individual and place him (or her) elsewhere - where the abuse simply continued. A grand filthy revolting cover up. The church cared more about its reputation than the children

"The report found: "The risk (to children) was seen by the congregations in terms of the potential scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed..."

Delightful.

The Department of Education was complicit in this "Abuse was rarely reported to the State authorities but on the rare occasion the Department of Education was informed, it colluded with the religious orders in the culture of silence. The Department generally dismissed or ignored sexual abuse complaints and never brought them to the attention of the Garda."

In other words, the Irish state was complicit with the Roman Catholic Church in the systematic cover up of those who raped and beat children - such a bastion of morality from this institution that effectively provided a protected path for pedophiles and sadists to have a career that met their criminal propensities - all with the state turning its head.

Expect lots of apologies, contrition and seeking forgiveness. Expect charges, prosecutions and compensation? Hardly.

So Vatican? What are you going to do for those who were abused? What will you do to help identify and prosecute those who abused? Or is saying sorry enough? Where the hell was God when his representatives were torturing kids on his property?

UPDATE: It just gets worse sadly. The executive summary is not short. It is worth repeating some of the most disturbing findings:

The school which saw sexual abusers protected by the church to save its reputation...

"Artane Industrial School in Dublin. Artane was founded in 1870 and was certified for 830 boys. This was almost four times the size of any other school in the State...sexual abuse of boys in Artane by Brothers was a chronic problem. Complaints were not handled properly and the steps taken by the Congregation to avoid scandal and publicity protected perpetrators of abuse. The safety of children was not a priority at any time during the relevant period."

The school where known sex abusers were transferred to...

"Glin was a large Industrial School in Co Limerick with a population of over 200 boys during a substantial part of the relevant period.... The documents revealed that a system of harsh and pervasive punishment existed in Glin during the relevant period. The documents also revealed that Brothers with a known propensity for sexual abuse were transferred to Glin indicating a serious indifference to the safety of children."

The abuser who was persistently protected by church and school authorities through several schools:

"Mr John Brander, who taught children in the primary and secondary school sector in Ireland for 40 years. He was eventually convicted of sexual abuse in the 1980s. He began his career as a Christian Brother and after three separate incidents of sexual abuse of boys, he was granted dispensation from his vows. This chapter goes on to describe this man's progress through six different schools where he physically terrorised and sexually abused children in his classroom. At various times during his career, parents attempted to challenge his behaviour but he was persistently protected by diocesan and school authorities and moved from school to school. Complaints to the Department of Education were ignored."

The school that flogged boys for minor transgressions:

"Daingean Reformatory, Co Offaly. This was the only boys' reformatory in the State for most of the relevant period and was managed by but not owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The physical abuse of boys in Daingean was extreme. Floggings which were ritualised beatings should not have been tolerated in any institution and they were inflicted even for minor transgressions. Children who passed through Daingean were brutalised by the experience and some were damaged by it."

The school for boys with special needs who was known to have abused in England was brought to Ireland to teach at the school, but the Brothers don't accept responsibility for it:

"Lota which was a residential school for boys with special needs run by the Brothers of Charity in Glanmire, Co Cork...n one case, a Brother who was known by the Congregation to have abused in England and was known to the police there, was brought back to Ireland and assigned a teaching position in Lota, where he worked for over 30 years. This Brother admitted to multiple sexual assaults of boys in the school. The circumstances of his return to Ireland and the handling of allegations against him whilst in Lota are a serious indictment of the Brothers of Charity. The Brothers have admitted that abuse took place but, as in the case of other Orders, they have not accepted Congregational responsibility for it."

In summary the physical abuse noted was: "In addition to being hit and beaten, witnesses described other forms of abuse such as being flogged, kicked and otherwise physically assaulted, scalded, burned and held under water. Witnesses reported being beaten in front of other staff, residents, patients and pupils as well as in private. Physical abuse was reported to have been perpetrated by religious and lay staff, older residents and others who were associated with the schools and institutions. There were many reports of injuries as a result of physical abuse, including broken bones, lacerations and bruising."

Or how about a culture that blamed girls who were victims of sexual abuse for causing it and criticised for reporting it:

"including vaginal and anal rape, molestation and voyeurism in both isolated assaults and on a regular basis over long periods of time. The secret nature of sexual abuse was repeatedly emphasised as facilitating its occurrence. Witnesses reported being sexually abused by religious and lay staff in the schools and institutions and by co-residents and others, including professionals, both within and external to the institutions. They also reported being sexually abused by members of the general public, including volunteer workers, visitors, work placement employers, foster parents, and others who had unsupervised contact with residents in the course of everyday activities. Witnesses reported being sexually abused when they were taken away for excursions, holidays or to work for others. Some witnesses who disclosed sexual abuse were subjected to severe reproach by those who had responsibility for their care and protection. Female witnesses in particular described, at times, being told they were responsible for the sexual abuse they experienced, by both their abuser and those to whom they disclosed abuse."

While they were at it, there is the emotional torture of kids, why not tell them their parents are dead:

"deprivation of family contact, humiliation, constant criticism, personal denigration, exposure to fear and the threat of harm. A frequently identified area of emotional abuse was the separation from siblings and loss of family contact. Witnesses were incorrectly told their parents were dead and were given false information about their siblings and family members. Many witnesses recalled the devastating emotional impact and feeling of powerlessness associated with observing their co-residents, siblings or others being abused. This trauma was acute for those who were forced to participate in such incidents."

So the Catholic Church in Ireland has been responsible for running concentration camps of children to torture them in ways one step short of the Nazis. It is unspeakably evil, sadistic and revolting - and the church must be made to pay, it needs to be purged of criminals who committed these acts and were accessories to it, and most of all it is time to sue the church. Until this club for sadists and pederasts (funny how mostly boys are victims isn't it?) is faced with the sort of accountability anyone else would have - if they ran a child torture and rape club - it will sit uncomfortably, whilst the evildoers who had their fun quietly fade away - and lives were ruined.

It's time for the church to compensate the victims and to purge itself of evil - anything less must be unacceptable.

UPDATE 2: Damian Thompson at the Daily Telegraph blogs about the reaction to the report from Archbishop Vincent Nichol. He has called for those who committed the abuse to be held to account "no matter how long ago it happened" and tellingly "I'm glad it's a scandal. I would be very worried if it wasn't a scandal... I hope these things don't happen again but I hope they're never a matter of indifference". That is a good start, shame it had to come from someone in England though.

UPDATE 3: The Independent in Ireland reports more details "the slave labour in Goldenbridge as little girls were forced to make rosary beads for sale, for hours and hours, until their fingers bled. Or the little girl locked up by the nuns in an empty furnace for two days. "We could hear her howls." Or Colm O'Gorman's memory of the disgusting activities of the sexual predator priest Sean Fortune. Or the little boy who had his hand held in boiling water by a Christian Brother just to teach him a lesson." It has echoes of Japanese POW camps or Nazi concentration camps. It believes that those who came forward for this inquiry feel empty and cheated, particularly since some in the Church still fail to accept it was systemic and an institutional failing, not just a few bad people within:

"Perhaps the most serious failing of both church and State was their silence.

None of this would have unfolded had it not been for the determination of a few brave individuals to reclaim their lives and set the record straight.

The thousands of victims, now adults, who then flocked into the light became an irresistible force which has brought about the Ryan report. Yet, somehow, there is a sense of unfinished business."

UPDATE 4: The Irish Examiner said:

"the Church cannot avoid the conclusions that it presided over the most appalling abuses, physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. It very often protected those responsible. More shamefully, it put the needs of the institution before the welfare of the child.

In recent times the Church has declared itself different from the one that tolerated and hid these scandals. The introduction of nationwide child protection procedures is one aspect of this. However, the depth of collusion and depravity revealed in Mr Justice Seán Ryan's report, and the Church's very poor track record, suggest that it might be wise to wait before deciding if this new position is a strategy or a reformation."

And of course the state failed too "The Department of Education was heavily criticised too. The CAC found its "deferential and submissive attitude" towards religious congregations "compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspections". The institutions were "accorded a low status within the department". It found that the system of inspection "was flawed and incapable of being effective".

Environmentalists risking lives

A group of transport fanatics are proposing that Aucklanders break the law and walk and cycle along a motorway this Sunday. They of course mean the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

There is a reason walking and cycling on motorways is illegal - motorways are built for motor vehicles travelling at open road or close to open road speeds, and are free of obstructions to avoid accidents. If there was a walkway/cycleway then fine, but there isn't. It's like the stupid teacher who decided to walk some kids through the Terrace Tunnel in Wellington - recklessly stupid.

The construction of Auckland Harbour Bridge was funded through tolls on motorists and its ongoing maintenance is funded through fuel taxes and road user charges on motorists. Auckland ratepayers pay nothing. Pedestrians and cyclists pay nothing. There is no "right" to use something you don't pay for, and which creates hazards for those who do.

Building a walkway/cycleway isn't cheap, partly because having people walk on a bridge creates challenges different from a road bridge, because it creates a resonance effect from the steps, different from rolling. The cycle/walkway enthusiasts don't want to pay for it, they want the money taken from road users, even though the business case for it doesn't stake up. They lie that every biking or walking is taking a car off the road, when it is more likely it is a new trip, as it is a novel experience. The effects on congestion will be negligible.

The answer simply is for those who want it to pay for it. Imagine even a turnstile either side charging £2 to cross the bridge. Why not? The motorists paid for their part.

Meanwhile, the issue is a bunch of activists willing to risk the lives of people, by walking on a motorway, which will give others the idea that walking on motorways is fine. What parents take their kids on a protest march on a motorway?

The Police set a bad precedent by letting a Hikoi cross the bridge illegally some years ago, so refusing it this time will look like "you can get away with breaking the road code if you're a Maori led group".

Where else might they demand "a right" to travel? Through Rimutaka tunnel? Through the Terrace Tunnel? Through Lyttelton Tunnel? It's a nonsense. Pay for a walkway, or use the bus or ferry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

House of Commons speaker resigns

After a remarkable fortnight of revelations about the trough that so many British MPs have been feeding from, it is right that the Speaker of the House of Commons - Michael Martin - MP for Glasgow North East (Labour) has announced he is quitting. He is resigning not only as speaker, but as an MP, provoking a by-election in a rather dire part of Glasgow (which is saying something!). He could not continue, with MPs from several parties on both sides of the House demanding he quit. Especially since his own role in the parliamentary expenses scandal is so odious.

For a Labour MP in a low income constituency he has had his snout firmly in the trough for some years, it will continue as his pension is worth half his MP's salary and half his Speaker's salary for the rest of his life. In other words a pension pretty much like he earned working, except he wont be. An editorial in the Observer (which is typically pro Labour) said a month ago

"A fish rots from the head down and in parliament the precipitous decline in ethics and probity begins with the speaker, Michael Martin. For years, the speaker and Mrs Martin have been plundering the public purse for an almost grotesque array of personal perks and foreign junkets. Only last week, we learnt of new beanos to the Gulf, in the wake of similar trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas."

Martin topped it off by trying to hide MPs travel expenses a couple of years ago, and when the Daily Telegraph started publishing the expenses claims of MPs across the political spectrum he said that the publication was a "security risk" that the Police should investigate. He also made a limp wristed call for change. When challenged by one MP that this would waste Police time and imply MPs had nothing to hide he said "It's easy to say to the press this should not happen - it's a wee bit more difficult when you just don't have to give quotes to the press and do nothing else", he criticised another MP who long called for more transparency as someone who was seeking press attention.

Martin has shown himself to be complicit in hiding the truth behind the outrageous expenses claim system, criticise those who wish to show to taxpayers the truth of the trough of the House of Commons. The extent of this scandal is almost impossible to get to grips with, as the Daily Telegraph almost daily has had new revelations. It has decimated public trust in politicians across the board, although Labour has been damaged the worst. What has been most telling is how utterly out of touch most MPs have been with their constituents. Many have been bombarded with angry phone calls and emails from people who are outraged at MPs claiming for lavish expenses on second homes, whilst being immune from capital gains tax, whilst in some cases not having the second homes in London, or not using them (because they already own a second home, but claim an allowance for another one). The Telegraph also has those that are "angels" in comparison.

Quite simply the difference between David Cameron, who called on his own MPs implicated to pay the money back, and Gordon Brown who called for a committee and a review, is stark. Cameron looked like a man of contrition and action, Brown looked like the dour bureaucrat who wanted to investigate before acting.

The question is how it will affect both the local and European elections in a few weeks time, but more importantly the entire reputation and credibility of mainstream politics in the UK. It implicates so many, and has angered so many more - could it ever plant a seed of distrust in letting politicians spend people's money?

Government moves transport funding towards state highways

The government released its policy statement on land transport funding which details what was previously outlined by Transport Minister Steven Joyce. National is moving from the heavy levels of subsidy of public transport advanced by the last government, and is using revenue from road users to spend on - roads. This has understandably upset the Green Party, which more often than not is a measure that the policy has some merit.

However, when you strip out the politics and get into the facts, the story is a lot more complicated

The statement outlines some useful facts:
- 84% of commuters travel by car, truck or motorcycle (no the rest do not all go by public transport, many walk);
- 70% of freight tonne kms move by road.

So in other words, let's not pretend that cars and trucks can be replaced by other modes, they are by far the most dominant means of transporting people and goods around the country.

What has the Minister decided?

NZ$258 million worth of improvements to the Wellington passenger rail system are no longer to be funded from the National Land Transport Fund (when road usage taxes go) but from general taxation. This should please the Greens as it means funding for railways coming from everyone, not just motorists, but it wont - because that means more money is available for roads. This is contractually committed spending, so can't be backtracked on, but where it comes from is changing, so everyone can now pay to subsidise the commuting of Wellingtonians.

We get a repeat of there being a National Infrastructure Plan being developed and Roads of National Significance, both utterly unnecessary, and smacking of central planning.

However, the real interest is what happens to the money.

What goes up?

Spending on state highways, local roads, road policing and public transport services. Yes, public transport service subsidies will be increasing (just less than under Labour), and road maintenance funding isn't decimated. Those are just utter lies spread by Labour.

State highway increases are understandable given state highways are where half the money generated for the National Land Transport Fund comes from. Funding of local road maintenance will grow far more slowly than state highways, suggesting the government sees room for efficiency there.

Local road governance needs serious reform though, I'd have local roads companies funded according to revenue generated from their networks (from road use taxes, parking fees and access fees for driveways). A single commercial Auckland road company I suspect would get enough money from fuel tax and road user charges that it could start upgrading many roads that need it. Sadly the "supercity" proposal is just going to make the current structure bigger.

What doesn't change?

In nominal terms walking, cycling, demand management, administration and transport planning funding do not change, which means they are cut in real terms. That will hurt bureaucrats and planners, and see a gradual reduction in spending on footpaths and cycleways. Not a bad thing.

What is cut?

Rail and sea freight subsidies are being phased out. Good. They never made sense in the first place.

Shift to economic efficiency

Another important shift is that economic efficiency will be of primary importance once again There will be an increased focus on economic efficiency.

"The NZTA’s evaluation processes will be adjusted to give projects with high benefit cost ratios (BCR) higher funding and programming priority and to give projects with low BCRs more scrutiny (high BCR is greater than four; low BCR is less than two). This change will place the onus on the organisations seeking funding from the NZTA to give priority to higher BCR projects unless there is good reason to do otherwise."

In other words, farewell to the days of Labour funding poor quality politically significant projects and delaying others that had high benefits but a lower profile. It does not bode well for Transmission Gully, or for large scale spending on public transport. Good.

All in all, no great surprises here. The Greens hate more money on roads, so think reducing the growth in spending on public transport is bad. Beyond that, the biggest win has to be the motorist, who will see higher proportions of their money spend on roads, and on projects that are to be primarily selected on economic efficiency grounds.

Don't forget the Nats have already promised three increases in fuel tax and road user charges during this term, so it doesn't come for nothing - at least the increases appear to all be going on roads.

It is still a cumbersome bureaucratic process, it still has little signs of commercial disciplines, I'd have flatlined public transport subsidies too at least. However, all money from road taxes is now being dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund (albeit a Labour initiative after the Nats campaigned on it in 2005), and the money will be spent more wisely.

and it is sadly, a lot better than funding arrangements in most other countries.

UPDATE: Darren Hughes is talking bollocks on transport again. His mistakes:
1. Of Steven Joyce "he failed to specify how much the Government was planning to strip from local roads and existing state highways and from road policing and public transport to fund spending on new motorways" Actually nothing is being stripped, but the forecasts have changed on the increases. All of those activity classes are increasing Darren, why don't you compare them the the forecast last year? It's not hard.
2. "Whenever public transport improvements are made, such as the Northern Busway, patronage increases sharply" Yep subsidies under Labour public transport subsidies increased fivefold but patronage increased nothing near that. Has patronage increased sharply in Hamilton Darren, for example? No.
3. "he plans to make roads less safe by removing $50 million from previously-budgeted spending on road policing" Actually Darren, spending more on state highways particularly north of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty will save lives.
4. "he is stripping $75 million from local roads and $122 million from existing state highways" maybe Darren maintenance costs have declined because of the drop in fuel, cutting asphalt costs and the reduction in heavy vehicle traffic due to the recession? Oh yeah, evade that.
5. "Labour's approach to transport funding was also based on a multi-modal programme involving state highways, local roads, public transport, sea freight and rail. Sadly, Mr Joyce's fixated approach means that balance is now lost" Yep Darren, sea freight and rail have gone, all $8 million of it. Ridiculous spending when sea freight is commercially viable and the government already owns rail.

Yet ask Darren about Transmission Gully, a $1.1 billion road project largely unfunded (Labour only funded investigation and design, and allocated $405 million towards construction), and he'll slobberingly demand his own slab of pork for the electorate that rejected him in the election last year. Where was the money for that coming from Darren?

See for Labour, big motorway projects are just fine - as long as they are in the electorate of the former Prime Minister or the former electorate of the transport spokesboy.

UPDATE 2: The Greens use the word "force" to describe when other people are not forced to pay for their religion of public transport as much as they want them too. You see, because New Zealanders choose not to demand commercially viable public transport services, because motorists reasonably like their road taxes spent on roads, it is "forcing" them to drive. Yes, you were forced to buy a car, you hate driving, you hate cars, and you'd like nothing more than to ditch your own private space, with the stereo, air conditioning and being able to go from where you are directly to where you want to go, in favour of waiting for a vehicle, to share with strangers, having to use a MP3 player for music, while the vehicle meanders its way to somewhere within walking distance of where you want to go.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said "Today, Steven Joyce committed to widen that imbalance by spending at least $7 on roads for every $1 spent on a more sustainable alternative. From an environmental viewpoint, it's simply immoral". Actually Jeanette, since every dollar came from road users, isn't it immoral to steal from them to pay for what you want?

It remains utter bullshit to suggest that subsidising other modes makes a sizeable difference to traffic congestion. However, what is most ridiculous is the idea that people are "forced to drive". Perhaps Jeanette forgets that most of her own party's manifesto is about using force.

So was it a crime before?

The case of Jimmy Mason raises a very basic question.

Mason apparently flicked his son's ear and punched him. Would that have been "reasonable force as correction" before smacking was banned? Punching a 4 year old hardly seems to be reasonable.

I'd have thought the charges related to pushing over the bikes of a 4 year old and a 2 year old while they are riding them also would not be "reasonable force" (though he was found not guilty of such actions as the details and description are not clear).

The case was brought as a bystander observed Mason "disciplining" his son in a public place.

The point being this. What did the abolition of the defence of reasonable force as correction do to this case? I'm no fan of smacking - but it appears on the face of it that had the law not been changed, Mason could still have been facing charges.

Or was it just that the Police wouldn't have bothered before?

Monday, May 18, 2009

One mistake in appointing Families Commissioner

is having one at all. Christine Rankin's unsuitability is moot, given that the role itself is completely inappropriate.

The post can remain vacant, whilst legislation is introduced to abolish the role.

The only people who would be upset are those who work there and Peter Dunne, who got it as a "gift" from Labour in exchange for granting Labour confidence and supply in 2002, when his party had 8 seats. Now he is the sole MP.

Give one good reason why taxpayers should be forced to pay for this bureaucracy. It should be first on the list of cuts by Bill English.

So here's a question for Mt. Albert voters to put to the candidates. "Why should I be forced to pay for the existence of a Families Commission and Commissioner?"

Melissa Lee and John Boscawen can't disagree with it can they, unless either plans on disagreeing with the government they support? Neither can David Shearer nor Russel Norman, since both were in parties that supported it in the first place.

Only a vote for Libertarianz candidate Julian Pistorius will help Mt. Albert elect an MP that will demand the abolition of this useless bureaucracy, and that's just for starters!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rudman: People use something they don't pay for

That's Brian Rudman's latest piece of genius. He is pleased that public transport patronage went up a fair bit in the last nine months in Auckland.

Much of that is due to the Northern Busway, and a lesser extent due to greater use of rail services. Not that surprising when you consider how much the price of petrol went up for part of that period, which made public transport more "competitive" price wise.

However, the increased usage isn't from people paying for what they use. The Northern busway cost NZ$210 million (paid for by all road users) and has a lot of unused capacity (empty space that other vehicles could used). Rail passengers moreso don't pay anything towards upgrades to the system, and only pay a third of the cost of running the trains through fares.

For ARTA Chairman Mark Ford to regard it as an "investment" under circumstances where the investment costs more money is a little stretch.

However, Brian is making a far bigger claim saying "These were 3.7 million trips that were not taken in a private car on our congested roads." How does he know what would have happened otherwise? How many train trips were previously bus trips? How many trips were previously people car sharing? How many trips wouldn't have been made at ALL?

How many of those trips would have occurred had the bus and train passengers had to pay the same proportion of cost of providing those services and infrastructure as motorists do?

Brian goes on about the Tamaki Drive bus lane, which he thinks shouldn't be allowed to be used by other vehicles. Far better for trucks and fully loaded cars to be stuck in congestion, rather than the near empty bus lane let a few more vehicles in, right Brian? Those evil car drivers and their passengers should catch the bus!

The real issue in Auckland is congestion, which is a result of supply not matching demand, which is itself a function of price and funding. Pouring a fortune into subsidising public transport is tinkering at the edges, and the most successful example is, funnily enough, the one that requires the least ongoing subsidies - buses.

However, what I really want to know is has ARTA done surveys as to where new bus and train users come from? What were they doing before? After all, if a majority of them weren't driving cars, then isn't this all a great big subsidy for people who weren't on the roads in the first place?

Talk about a bad investment?

Stuff reports: "Transmission Gully could be one of a host of shelved projects to get the green light under a radical idea that would see KiwiSaver funds channelled into long-term strategic infrastructure assets.

The brainchild of Tower Investments chief executive Sam Stubbs, Public KiwiSaver Partnerships (PKPs) would allocate a proportion of funds directly into core infrastructure projects, freeing up government cash for investment in goods and services."

Well nice idea, if the investments were profitable. Commercial enterprises make sense of course, but Transmission Gully? What's he on?

Tolls wouldn't pay for more than 10% of the road, there isn't enough money in the National Land Transport Fund to pay for it either, so is he suggesting that taxpayer funds be poured into a road (lent to pay for it) that taxpayers would have to pay for? A road that users can barely pay a fraction of the cost of isn't profitable.

Sorry Sam, try again.


Sri Lanka poisoned by nationalism

Tamil protestors have been out in force in London for several weeks. I said to one that the tragic support of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) meant I saw both sides as equally in the wrong. However, none of this takes away from the humanitarian disaster that this war has seen inflicted on Tamils and the Sinhalese. The apparent ceasefire by the LTTE may hopefully see an end to the killing, but it wont resolve the underlying sore - the malignancy of nationalism on both sides.

The LTTE is a terrorist organisation that maintained a gangster "state" in the north of Sri Lanka for years. It's own tactics which included, until recently, child soldiers as well as bombing civilian targets have badly hurt the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The LTTE, with shades of Hamas, happily has used civilians as human shields. However, which most Tamils support a cause which is based on resisting the nationalist chauvinism of the Buddhist Sinhalese, there is a darker side to this resistance. It is based not on promoting a Sri Lanka where the state is blind to nationality, but on separatism. To resist bigotry and nationalism by promoting your own nationalism by murderous means is not claiming the moral highground. For Tamils to start to claim that, they need to condemn and reject the LTTE, and demand equality under the law and before the law in Sri Lanka. After all, Tamils in India have little appetite for separatism, as India itself is not ethnically or religiously defined.

However, while Wikipedia has lists of attacks by the LTTE, it also has them of the Sri Lankan military. There is little doubt that the Sri Lankan military is far from innocent in this conflict. Its own application of severe censorship on reporting the war means its own antics will be hidden. Sinhalese paramilitary have assisted the Sri Lankan government in attacking Tamil areas. China too has helped armed the Sri Lankan government, demonstrating its willingness to turn a back while its customers kill.

So it looks like the Sri Lankan government will win, but for the conflict to truly be over, Tamils must no longer fear that government - which means it should be open, which means removing restrictions on the media - it should seek transparency and reconciliation, acknowledging what wrong has been done, so Sri Lanka as a whole can start to put this conflict behind it. Tamils and Sinhalese both have to admit people in their communities have assaulted, murdered and destroyed, and the will must be to live side by side.

However, whilst too many in Sri Lankan politics pander to Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, they will continue to see Tamils as the "other", a group that deserve nothing, instead of treating all those in Sri Lanka as individuals. Sri Lanka has tremendous potential in tourism, and in enjoying a share of India's economic revival.

It can only do it best if the religious, nationalist and Marxist elements of Sri Lanka's politics can be eschewed. Yes, Sri Lanka, start treating each other as individuals, not as Tamils, Sinhalese, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Auckland motorists go have some fun!

Have a drive on a new motorway!

According to the NZ Herald, from 3pm this afternoon, the eastbound lanes of the Mt Roskill extension will be open from Maioro Street and Sandringham Street, so you can have a clear run from there to Kirkbride Road near the airport or to Roscommon Road in Wiri. The westbound lanes wont be open till Monday at the earliest, but still go on - have fun in one direction - your petrol taxes and road user charges paid for it, and you'll get a taste of the time savings. On top of that, you can be of clear conscience that NO land was compulsorily purchased for the motorway.

Oh and it will annoy the Greens, because they actively opposed building this motorway. It will annoy a small group who wanted to protect the volcanic cones.

UPDATE: Oh, by the way as you enjoy this new motorway, notice it goes through Phil Goff's electorate. Notice the absence of tunnels even though it involves passing alongside hills and going uphill itself. This project was brought to you by the fifth Labour government, fully funded from the National Land Transport Fund.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bullshit about the Waterview Connection

There is so much so I thought I'd clear up some myths:

1. First the easy one to get out of the way, the one spread by some friends on the right - the route for this motorway has NOT been designated at ALL, the motorway designation for SH20 starts at Manukau and ended at Richardson Road. There is a gap thanks to Auckland local authorities dithering and abandoning the Avondale peninsula route option in the 1970s. So please don't believe private property rights for those on the route can be ignored - they did NOT buy land on a motorway route.

2. Idiot Savant says the announcement by the NZTA on the preferred route for the Waterview connection is “an affront to democracy”. Complete bollocks. When did people vote for the route of ANY road? It never happened for any other section of the Western Ring Route, nor the Northern Gateway, nor the Waikato Expressway, nor the Christchurch Southern Motorway. The system is designed to be a rational appraisal based on statutory criteria, not on counting the heads of the loudest. The USA has that, and you see bridges collapse due to lack of political interest. It is entirely within the role of NZTA to decide on its preferred route as the government wont be borrowing to pay for a greenplated route.

3. He also talks nonsense in claiming “the plan centres on using an existing rail designation for a motorway. So, Auckland won't be getting a proper rail-based public transport network because National will have already built a stinking great road there.” Funnily enough there remains room for the motorway there (the map he links to shows this) and even ARTA has no plans to built the Avondale-Southdown railway till 2030. The project isn’t worth it, so to claim Auckland “wont be getting a proper rail-based public transport network” because one line that would be barely used isn’t to be built, is extreme hyperbole.

4. Bomber at Tumeke thinks it is a conspiracy with National favouring its big business mates at Macquaries and hating public transport. For starters, Labour’s plans would have benefited Macquaries far more as it would have been a bigger scheme and a PPP. On top of that, the Waterview connection wont be tolled, nor will it be a PPP, Macquaries provides finance for PPP toll roads, it isn’t in the road construction business in New Zealand. The company can't benefit from this decision at all. So that makes this conspiracy theory totally fatuous. Tim Selwyn posts more intelligently on the issue to be fair.

5. The Standard tries to spin that the government is misleading on costs, something that NZTA clears up quite quickly. It also makes some of the same mistakes as others do.

All options require work at SH16 worth $242 million.

Labour wanted a four lane bored tunnel. $1.974 billion. National is now proposing a four lane mix of surface, bored tunnel and cut and cover tunnel at $1.165 billion, with provision for six laning built in (Labour’s option did not allow for that). That’s over $800 million difference. To put that in context, Transit’s total budget last year for ALL state highways activities was $1.2 billion. So National's proposal saves a lot of money, AND allows for future growth.

Labour had proposed a PPP for the motorway, so financing costs (interest) of $554 million had been included for its option. However, Labour had NO budgetary provision for the motorway at all. Financing costs are the costs of paying a PPP operator to borrow, build and operate the road. The money to pay the PPP operator would still need to come from somewhere

It did not know whether it would pay it back through general taxes or the National Land Transport Fund, or even some contribution from tolls. So the money for this motorway had to come from somewhere as yet unidentified. National is taking the money from road users, through the National Land Transport Fund. There isn’t enough revenue from road users to fund Labour’s proposal, so general taxpayers would have had to subsidise it.

In short, there was never money to build this motorway before (there was money for investigation and design), National has chosen one option (the most fair one, as it means road users pay for a road). Labour either would have to have chosen the same option, and take money from general taxation (from other spending like health), or take all the money from general taxation.

What National DOES need to answer is what the National Land Transport Programme looks like for the next few years. That will come out in June. Then we will all know how projects have been reprioritised to help fund this strategic section of motorway, although it will be a couple of years before construction can commence.

Finally, doesn’t this all show you how utterly inept arguments about things become when they are political? There is an alternative – it has been done in Australia – it means telling the private sector it can build, own and operate the road, and toll it, pick the route and do it all itself. It can even be paid a share of roading taxes collected from using the new road. Decisions like this should not be up to politicians – because they spend money like teenagers given dad’s credit card.

Green's want a Mega Auckland with nationalised transport

The Greens are supporting the Auckland mega city, just in a different form.

It's outlined here. In summary the Greens want:

- A single Auckland mega council which will:

1. Nationalise or regulate all bus, ferry, truck and taxi companies ("Fully integrated transport, under the full control of the Auckland Council, Council should own and manage all the relevant assets") with council controlling all transport, presumably excluding your cars and bikes, but that's it.
2. Take over the state highways from central government (and you can imagine what it will do with them).
3. Dividends on council assets could be paid to ratepayers or not paid at all;
4. Privatisation not possible without two-thirds majority in favour (forget democracy then when it is about the Port and Airport, they are "special").
5. Lots of little community councils with lots of power over spending your money, think of them as party cells.
6. Have race based special representation for people of Maori descent.
7. More councillors than National proposes (how else are leftwing activists to get jobs?)
8. The overriding philosophy will be sustainability, which means whatever the Greens say it means.

Nice that. A big big city, with lots more politicians, lots of local community councils to meddle in your affairs, but it will be democratic, except when a majority think owning a Port isn't core business for council, oh and except for those who are Maori who think that race is a basis for political identity. Oh it will relieve the government of the state highways (so that some main national corridors become beholden to local interests in Auckland) and take over the running of transport in Auckland. Finally, Auckland transport gets owned, run and regulated by the council, at large, for people and freight presumably. Yep, the people who think traffic congestion is caused by building more road capacity, and it can be relieved by subsidising modes that get grossly underutilised, want to control how you move.

Still thinking the Greens are about real change, or just a different form of local government fascism?

So when does Labour build tunnelled urban highways?

You have to laugh at the politics around the Waterview motorway, and the sheer hypocrisy of the Labour Party in opposing what is now a partly tunnelled partly surface route.

Yes, it isn't a surface motorway at all, it is 60% cut and cover tunnel under the Great North Road and a suburban area. However, the lies about it are rather infectious aren't they?

Since 1999, the following major urban motorway/highway projects have been started while Labour was in power. None were tunnelled.

- Grafton Gully upgrade - at surface option selected over tunnelled and viaduct options.
- Central Motorway Junction upgrade Stages 1 and 2 (no tunnel option.
- Greenhithe Deviation (Upper Harbour Motorway) - at surface.
- Mt Roskill extension of SH20, at surface.
- Manukau extension of SH20, at surface.
- Waiouru Peninsula highway and interchange (Otahuhu) at surface.
- Hamilton Avalon Drive bypass, at surface.
- Tauranga Harbourlink (second Tauranga Harbour Bridge with highway connection to Waikareao Expressway), elevated.
- Hawke's Bay Expressway northern extension, at surface.
- Wellington Dowse Drive upgrade on SH2, elevated.
- Wellington Inner City Bypass stage 2, at surface.
- Mana-Plimmerton upgrade SH1, at surface.

So you see, a tunnel isn't good enough for Greenhithe, Mt Roskill, Manukau, west Hamilton, Tauranga or downtown Wellington, but it is for Mt. Albert.

One tunnel was built, it was on the Northern Gateway toll road that now bypasses Orewa. It is a rural tunnel, and while strictly unnecessary it reduced the incline of the motorway (as a gully would have done). Another is proposed, the Victoria Park tunnel instead of a duplicate Victoria Park viaduct, largely because the ARC wanted it. Sadly the Nats are continuing with this waste of money.

How about urban highway proposals that were progressed under Labour that had no tunnel:

Hobsonville Deviation
Newmarket Viaduct replacement (imagine a tunnel under Newmarket instead of the towering viaduct)
Te Rapa Bypass
Tauranga Eastern Motorway
Tauranga Central Corridor Upgrade
Wellington Basin Reserve Upgrade.
Christchurch Southern Motorway extension.
Christchurch Northern arterial.

Yep, Labour has NO credibility on this issue. It looks glaringly obvious that the reason why Mt Albert was going to get a tunnel, but Greenhithe, Hobsonville, Mt Roskill, Manukau, Otahuhu, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch were not is politics.

So Darren Hughes is talking absolute bullshit when he says Steven Joyce "represents the old style of Tory Transport Minister who doesn’t give a toss about people who don’t live in a flash area" when his government pushed through urban highways in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier and Wellington.

It is more that Helen Clark and the last Labour government represented an old style serfdom, where the constituency of the Prime Minister is to be tunnelled with minimum disruption, but those who live elsewhere (except those at St. Marys Bay near Judith Tizard) can go fuck themselves. To be fair to the Greens, they have opposed some of those roads outright, but Labour? No credibility at all.

Vote for freedom in Mt Albert

By-elections are always a little strange, since they tend to produce results that do not tend to favour the incumbent government or incumbent party in that seat. Voters know that on this occasion they cannot change the government, as there is no party vote, so it is about having a local representative. Having said that, most people spend their lives not bothering their local MP. Of those that do, some are perpetual whingers and slightly unhinged, and MPs see them regularly as a result, others are people who see the MP perhaps once with a concern hoping the MP can make a difference. This is often because the state provides so many services taxpayers are forced to pay for, that the last resort when bureaucrats don't move is to bring in the MP.

So in that sense, constituents are probably best served by someone who is suspicious of bureaucracy, who can gently avoid wasting too much time with nutters, not claim credit for something they didn't do (Darren Hughes is one who claims credit for getting roads built when he had virtually nothing to do with it).

I said on 4 May that "It might be better to just wait to see who all the candidates will be, before making a choice." of candidate. So I am pleased that Julian Pistorius, a Mt. Albert resident no less, is standing for Libertarianz.

Let's be clear, the motorway will be built, but only Julian can be a solid advocate for the private property rights of landowners who may face compulsory purchase, and for ways to respect that while progressing the road (for example, the Melbourne Citylink motorway was built by the private sector negotiating the land purchase from all those along its route).

Let's also be clear, a Labour MP will mean no change, a backbencher in a party that has no power over the next 2.5 years and which has shown a willingness to pillage taxes to buy an electorate. What one next?

A National MP will mean no change. Melissa Lee is already in Parliament, being MP for Mt. Albert will just give her a little more to do, but she wont be fighting for private property rights.

A Green MP will mean no change. Russel Norman will lead obstructive direct action against motorway building, whilst cheerleading on the pillaging of Mt. Albert taxpayers for a railway that ever ARC has as a low priority.

ACT candidate John Boscawen has shown his level of judgment in voting for the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Act.

ALCP candidate Dakta Green is worthy of your vote if that one policy matters above everything else.

However, Julian Pistorius IS worthy of your vote if you want to shake up Parliament, and get a man dedicated to standing up for Mt. Albert taxpayers and property owners (who are, after all everyone). He wont be a backbench voice on a major party, or speaking to increase taxes or spend more of other people's money. He wont be claiming to speak for property owners on the motorway issue, but at the same time running roughshod over them with the RMA. He wont be supporting the megacity or indeed local government that continues to have a power of general competence to do as it sees fit.

You see Julian will call for the government to undertake the tax cuts it promised. Julian will support private property rights as an absolute. Julian will also support the right of ALCP candidate Dakta Green to campaign to legalise cannabis without harassment, because Julian too supports legalising consumption and sale of cannabis for adults on private property.

Mt. Albert voters might baulk at voting Libertarianz when it is about choosing the government, but who could have a louder voice for Mt. Albert than a Libertarianz MP? Who will in principle oppose the confiscation of land for a road, or any purpose, and call for less government so Mt. Albert residents can make their own choices?

So go on Mt. Albert, vote Julian Pistorius as your local MP. Beyond anything else it will give Helen Clark the most unwelcome surprise when she wakes up in New York the next morning to see who she handed the seat over to.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

National makes right decision over Waterview

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has made a good decision, he has rejected the greenplating of the last section of Auckland's Western Ring Route, in favour of a trenched surface motorway.

About time, I was alone in saying this in July 2008!

In other words, the Waterview extension will be just like every other segment that has been built or is under construction now. Look today at the other segments:
- Greenhithe deviation (built trenched surface motorway)
- Upper Harbour bridge duplication (built as bridge not a tunnel)
- Hobsonville deviation (to be built as trenched surface motorway)
- Manukau extension (under construction as trenched surface motorway)
- Manukau Harbour crossing (duplicate Mangere Bridge, with widening of existing trenched surface motorway)
- Mt Roskill extension (recently complete trenched surface motorway).

Why was Mt Albert special other than it was in the former Prime Minister's electorate?

More importantly, why should the taxpayer subsidise this?

So he also saves the taxpayer from having to subsidise the motorway. It can now be fully funded from the National Land Transport Fund, which itself is funded from road user charges, all fuel taxes and motor vehicle registration and licensing fees. This is distinctly unlike the electrification of the Auckland rail network, which Auckland rail passengers aren't paying a cent towards, in fact they don't even pay half the cost of providing the existing trains.

Of course the property owners along the route will be upset, and rightly so. Labour was willing to pillage taxpayers to drill under their homes, will National force homeowners to sell? The better approach will be to offer to buy the route on commercial terms, rather like the French do. The French offer to pay well above market rates for land, so they have a range of route options - French motorway are mostly tollways admittedly so even paying a lot for the land can still mean a profitable route. Tolling this small segment isn't viable (the whole route may have made more sense, but has already been ruled out because Labour committed money to the other segments), but still a business-like approach could speed up route acquisition and get the road built. However, nobody should be forced to sell.

So now we have National making an economically rational decision. Labour wanting to borrow over a billion dollars to build an undersized motorway and put it in a tunnel to bribe an electorate (anyone want to shout pork really loudly?) and the Greens worshipping trains, which would not relieve congestion, provide an alternative for 99% of the freight that would use the motorway and no evidence that a rail line could be remotely economically viable. Although the Green's own transport plan includes a busway along this corridor - hmmmm?

Well done, I did say for the Nats to do this before.

MY PAST COVERAGE OF WATERVIEW:

In February 2008, Labour wanted to make the route a PPP, which would require heavy taxpayer subsidy, supported by Peter Dunne when he was whoring on the left side of the house.

In July 2008, Labour announced $5.5 million to further investigate the Waterview tunnel, and I commented then on how it could have been a surface motorway, before others did.

In October 2008, the Greens launched a transport plan that included a busway along a motorway between Waterview and Mt Roskill see the map here.

In January 2009 I advised Steven Joyce to spend another 6 months reviewing the Waterview extension, which he promptly did.

In February 2009, the MOT released the business case information about the Waterview extension. I noted the main reason the project is expensive is because the designation for the route was abandoned in the early 1970s by local government.

In May 2009 I noted that as an election issue it really shouldn't be that important, as only a National MP could ever make a difference.

Of course now, it wont make any difference at all. Neither a Green, Labour, National or ALCP MP will change this decision. So perhaps Labour can stop promising to spend money that isn't theirs, and the Greens can stop claiming they can make a difference, and the people of Mt. Albert can choose someone based on character and philosophy, not a pork barrel issue?

Post number 2000

There are times in one’s blogging life when it is an appropriate chance to look back at what one has done and why one blogs. This is my 2000th post so is a self-indulgent reflection on why I do this, and more importantly what’s important to me.

Bloggers generally blog as an outlet for their opinions and comments, with a particular bent politically and philosophically, and a particular focus on certain issues. For me, it is because, with the exception of Not PC, my views are consistently NOT represented in either the mainstream NZ media or blogosphere.

So what flavours of opinion do I add?

Well, I have specialised in New Zealand politics and in that sense the promotion of individual freedom. That being the freedom of being to do as they see fit with their own bodies and property whilst respecting the same right of others to do so. The banality of those who say this means the “freedom to hurt others” or “freedom to push drugs onto kids” does not detract from this core concept. It comes from the principle that adults generally know best how to run their own lives, and more importantly that other adults do not have a claim on their body or property. It is a principle that is almost universally disregarded across most of the political spectrum.

Those on the left treat private property with contempt, regarding the income and assets of people considered “rich” to be ready picking to supply what they see as the “rights” of the relatively poor – people who are wealthy by the standards of most of the world’s population. The sneering contempt that “the left” holds the financially successful is mean spirited and revolting. It implies that those who raise their heads above the average owe everyone else a share of their success, or at worst they must have earned it unfairly. However, the left does not confine its claim to people’s property, but to their bodies too.

The left proclaims the superiority of state provided health care and education, despite state health care regularly failing those who are forced to provide their services, and state education by definition standardising what and how children are taught. The idea that people might choose alternatives provided privately is seen as undermining these sacred signs of universal service, ignoring that monopolies rarely seem able to meet the varied needs of all those who use them.

However, the right is far from immune from claiming peoples’ bodies or property. Historically this was seen most specifically with conscription, but the conservative right also say its role to protect and reinforce “traditional role models”. Much of that is now gone, with few laws restricting or defining personal relationships or sex relations between consenting adults. However, the fight that many have had to demand equal treatment under the law was always resisted by some. Today the most egregious example of the right promoting interference in people’s bodies are laws on drugs. Criminalising people for what they put in their bodies is a gross infringement on individual liberty, when the real concern should be what people do to others – intoxicated or not.

So I start from the view that the individual is sovereign. That the individual should not be subordinate to other individuals, whether dressed up as “the public good” or “general will” or “will of the majority”. Those phrases are the tools of both the left and the right, both who believe the decisions of a small group of individuals (Cabinet, Parliament, bureaucrats) should be able to spend the money of others, and regulate them. The difference is I don’t believe in “public good”, as it implies that there is something higher than individual rights, and so individual rights can be sacrificed for the public good. Every dictatorship through history has justified its actions, and indeed every democracy has justified what it did for “the public good”, particularly when it was curtailing individual freedom and spending other people’s money.

The Greens, for example, appear to have a strong interest in many things that a lot think are good. Who argues against clean air, clean water and protecting cute animals from extinction? Yet the means the Greens wish to employ is violence – state force – to tax, to subsidise, to ban, to compel, to regulate. On top of this authoritarian desire to push people around is scaremongering against science and technology, such as genetic engineering and cellphone transmitters. The apocalyptic glee that evidence about global warming gives them to excuse their joyless agenda of restricting flying, driving, trading or even using appliances at home gives me despair. The forked tongue of opposing racism, but demanding racially separate Maori seats and saying it isn’t about race, when they are DEFINED by race. Meanwhile the anti-racist party promotes opposition to foreign trade and investment, because foreigners can’t have “our” interests at heart. No different from similar remarks Winston Peters used to have an audience for. Environmentalism has become the pathway for those who have a vision of changing people to fit a view of what they should be like. It has disturbing parallels with Marxism-Leninism in that respect, with the use of terminology like “climate change denial” to imply that those who debate science are debating actual events not theories of causation.

For me, I believe the jury is still out on anthropomorphic climate change, with contradictory evidence pointing in two different directions. However, I am most disturbed by the way that the climate change evangelists regard it all as an excuse to fanatically intervene in sectors from energy to transport to agriculture, without any serious analysis as to the implications of doing so except for the holy grail of CO2 emissions. Climate science is one thing, but the “answers” given are typically devoid of serious analysis then there is no wonder it is seen to be a religion.

Naturally, Labour and National pander for the middle ground, Labour especially now fertile fields for largely mediocre individuals to seek to spread their bile of envy of the successful, patronising the proletariat and scaremongering with the “we’ll look after you” attitude that sadly pervades this once proud party. National watches polls constantly, and forever runs away from principles even though so many inside it know that the state is largely incapable of delivering substantially better results in health and education. ACT has soiled itself lately with the gang patch law, and I await to see if Rodney Hide can cut the size of local government whilst he has been promoting the biggest council ever for Auckland.

The Maori Party being defined by race is a mix of good intentions and racial superiority, how else can one think of a party that treats the people it represents as being “special”.

Beyond that, religion has a low impact on New Zealand politics and for that I am glad. I am an atheist, and proclaim the doctrine of Voltaire in defending freedom of religion, but at the same time damning religion itself as being at best unnecessary, at worst a justification for murder and denial of humanity. My first priority for religion is to expunge it from the state, so that it has nothing to do with the supernatural. The secularisation of states that are populated primarily by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists should be a priority project for the 21st century for all who support civilisation and humanity. For conflicts in the Middle East, South Asia and Sri Lanka can be linked to those who reject this. I’m an advocate for reason and an objectivist, and derive my values and morals from objectivism, not religion, though I rarely blog about that.

So for me, I blog about NZ politics, UK politics, occasionally US and Australian politics, the Middle East, dictatorships in Africa and Asia and Europe, the European Union. I focus regularly on sectors I have professional experience in, such as transport, communications, trade and broadcasting, with a particular distaste for the European Union Common Agricultural Policy, environmentalist worshipping of railways and damnation of aviation and the private car, and a hatred for those who seek to restrict trade based on random political geographies.

However, most of all I detest the attack on the human mind, on human achievement and on reason. Which is why my greatest advocacy is for the removal of the initiation of force (and threat of force) in adult relations, and that means between states and between states and their citizens. Most people will say yes to this at first then “but”. For me there is no “but”. After all, what right do you have to initiate force against another adult?

So after 2000 posts I thank those of you who read regularly, and have seen my average daily unique reads average at around 200 a day the last couple of months. I’m no supporter of ACT or National, but will praise and damn either when I see fit, the same with Labour, the Greens or any other party anywhere. I am not aligned by political tribe, but by philosophy. A philosophy that says that human individuals have the right to exist for their own purpose and own reasons, and no other adults have a claim on that at all, that anyone claiming this is selfish is damned right. Because unless I own my life, I am a slave to another – and I’ll be damned if I’ll support any who advocate running other people’s lives because anything else is selfish.

So to you all, be selfish, live your life to enjoy it, share yourself with whoever you see fit, who wishes to share with you, and to be yourself, respecting the same in others. Be benevolent in sharing yourself and your values as you see fit, but do so being true to yourself, not because you feel obliged to do so. You exist for your values, for if that is not your first priority, then nothing else can follow.