Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Cliche Kiwi Moment

My sister is currently in Japan. We've been trying to call her sinse Christmas morning, but to no avail (I was under the impression that telecommunication glitches were a thing of the past with fibre optic cable, but it appears not).

Anyway, my mother finally got through this afternoon, and walked out across the back lawn with the cordless phone to where my father and I were stacking firewood. My parent's 10ha section is mainly bush, but it neighbours on to a sheep farm. Where we were stacking firewood over looks the farm.

According to my cell phone it is currently 28 degrees (C) in Kumeu, with sun blazing down. It was snowing in Japan.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Greetings From The City Of Sails

I made it - I'm in Auckland. The whether is beautiful. Just watched the sun set across Kumeu and the Waitakere Ranges from my parents place.

Phoebe and I drove up from Wellington on Christmas Eve. Not having my own car, I got one of those Budget relocation deals, where you pay $20 (+ gas) to drive the car from Wellington to Auckland in 24 hours. I recommend it. Luck of the draw, we got a 2003 3 litre Nissan Maxima. Boy, she took off. It was pissing with rain all the way to the Bombay Hills (seriously), so lunch with a freind in Taumaranui had to be cancelled. Made really good time (without speeding or course) and didn't hit any traffic.

Spent Christmas Day with Phoebe's family in Remuera. After a few domestic dramas in the morning, things settled down in the afternoon, and had a really nice time.

Drove up to Omaha Beach yesterday for my family Christmas. Played a few holes of golf, and generally had a really good time.

Drove Phoebe to Auckland Airport to fly out for a 27 day holiday in Shanghai, China this morning for a 5am check in (which meant leaving Kumeu at 3:30!!), then picked my flatmate and his girlfriend Gabby up from the airport soon after. Came back home and spent the afternoon snoozing, as I was buggered.

Hope everyone else is having a good break.

PS. Before I left Wellington, I gave Michelle Quirke from the Dominion Post a few qoutes regarding Stuart McCutcheon leaving for Auckland University. I picked up a copy of the DomPost at the airport this morning, only to find the story was bumped for the Tsunami in Indian Ocean. Fair enough I guess... after all, it's not the Sunday Star Times.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Last Day

Amanda has posted a "Last Day" post. She makes reference to me, just before she makes reference to Gary Lindsay. I don't know how to take that.

So, here is my "Last Day" post.

I've just stuck my name tag on the President's Office, just about to change the name of my blog, removing the"elect". I have the President's cell phone (021 899 430 if you want to text me or whatever). Jenn Jones now has the keys to my office, filing cabinet, and desk drawer. The Education Vice President's office is bare - I removed the posters from my wall to reveal the chips in the paint.

Amanda has been a great President, no two ways about it. She was always willing to get stuck in and get involved (which sometimes gets her in to trouble, but you get that). She turned up at 7am to leaflet when no one else would. She would have a drink with me, when everyone else had pyked out. She would be there to listen to my relationship issues when the rest of the VUWSA office had gone home. She has been a good colleague, who I have been proud to serve alongside, and, more importantly, a very good friend.

2005 is going to be a good year. We have a new Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Minister of Tertiary Education, ..... and VUWSA President. And I'm looking forward to it.

I'm heading to Auckland early tomorrow morning, so this is probably my last post for the year.

Have a good Christmas everyone, and I'll see you in the New Year.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Research Help Needed

I'm currently co-authoring a paper with Tim Volwes on "world" city connectivity of Auckland and Wellington, as measured by the mass media.

We are using the business section of the New Zealand Herald and the Dominion/DominionPost from 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2003 to explain the connections between Auckland, Wellington and the wider world, and are then going to (attempt to) link this to the political climate, both domestic and international.

It is really interesting to see the shift away from Europe and North America, towards Asia.

However, I have hit a snag; I have yet to find a compressive political history of New Zealand. I have tried to work from Michael King's History of New Zealand, and James Balich's Paradise Re-Forged. Both are great over view histories, but are not comprehensive enough for the task at hand.

Does anyone know of such a history (or several histories) that would cover this period, and the political climate? They can be of shorter periods, or of specific policies.

If so, please flick me an email.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Letter Does It Again!!

Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington once again pulls out a pearler!

I have written about this before, and Prebbs mentioned it in a letter to Jules. It is an interesting, and humourious publication, although often economical with the truth.

This week's edition is no different:

There is an article on how the Catholics are moving away from Labour in Australia, and a similar trend is occurring in New Zealand. It states that:
"It's hard to see Labour ever selecting another practicing Catholic as leader or to a list seat."

This obviously over looks Wellington Central MP Marian Hobbs, and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, both whom, I believe, are Catholic.

It then goes on to talk about how no one wins conscience votes, and how the big guns were reluctant to talk to the recent CUB vote:
"Labour MPs who normally don't get speaking time got to lead the debates. It quickly became clear why MPs like National's John Connell, NZ First's Bill Gudgeon and Labour's Lynne Pillay are backbenchers. Their rhetoric was partisan, extreme and not designed to win votes. Words they spoke are on parliamentary record and can't be withdrawn."
I was intrigued as to who John Connell was, as I had never heard of him, and consulted my "Guide to Parliament 2002-2005" which hangs above my office computer. I couldn't find such an MP. Either he was a fabrication of the ACT Research Unit, or they had mixed Brian Connell (Rakaia) and John Key (Helensville) up (they are on top of each other on the Guide). Not the best move for a potential coalition partner, I dare say...

It does, however, praise the passing of the Civil Union Bill (the margin of which it correctly predicted last week), and the hard work of Tim Barnett, so it can't be all bad, I guess.

What A Weekend

I had a great weekend, to say the very least.

For a start, it was the first weekend since my girlfriend, Phoebe, came to stay last Monday. I am in a distance relationship, which, to be honest, is hard, but it does make the time you are together so much more special. Phoebe is staying until we drive up to Auckland on Christmas Eve.

On Friday night, we went (with Amanda, NZUSA's Co-President and NWRO, Fleur and Camilla) to the Student Association at the Wellington College Of Education ("SAWCE") Ball. Although neither Amanda nor I were really willing to go, we were sort of under obligation as SAWCE becomes part of VUWSA when VUW and the Wellington College of Education merge in the New Year. It turned out to be quite good. Greg, Louise, Jimmy and the SAWCE exec had pulled out all stops, basing the evening on the Oscars (hardly an original idea, granted, but it was pulled off really well). They gave out awards (called "SAWCE's") to people who had done dumb stuff during the year. The sense of togetherness was amazing - there would have been several hundred people there, and they all seemed to know everyone. Certainly more of a collective spirit than you find at the fragmented Victoria University campuses.

Spent Saturday cleaning the kitchen. I live in an old Kelburn villa which, sometime long ago, got converted into two flats, and hasn't been cleaned since. Anyway, enough about that.

My flatmate had his 21st on Saturday night. Predicting (correctly) an influx of pre-pubescent boy racers from Palmerston North, Phoebe and I escaped to Jordan et al's flat warming. A very pleasant night was had by all. Had lengthy discussions with former student politicians such as Michael Gibbs, Grant Robertson, Alistair Cameron, and Graham Beever. As people drank more, the night turned more into a party, with Michael Wilson (advisor to Margaret Wilson) leading the dancing. Phoebe, never one to shy away from a good song quickly joined in to tracks from Blam!, Queen etc etc. We ended up rolling out at about 2am, for the short walk back up the hill to Kelburn.

Sunday was a lounge around home day. Later that night we went to the double screening of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I had seen the former a few years ago. The later is the sequel, set some 9 years later. Both are terribly romantic, and very enjoyable.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Smoking in Bars

DPF noted on his blog that he has "mixed feelings" in regards to the end of smoking in bars.

I don't. I wholeheartedly support the ban, and not only from a personal point of view. During my first year at Victoria, I worked at the BackBencher on Molesworth St. Everynight, I would leave work with a sore throat and stinking of cigarette smoke. Although I don't work in the bar any more, I still feel sorry for those that do.

I really don't buy the pub owner's argument that it is going to take business away from them. They might see a small drop in numbers initially, but people will get used to it and it will become part of going out.

I'm having lunch today at the BackBencher with a former VUWSA President, so will be looking forward to seeing the difference.

The second or third page of the DominionPost yesterday had an old digger sitting at a table at the Cambridge Hotel having a cigarette. I half expected the article to say something along the lines of "I went to war for the right to smoke in pubs" etc etc. However the guy said that he only smoked at the pub, would quit with the ban, and welcomed it. A a rare show of journalistic integrity for the DomPost...

But you can't beat the Tui billboard on the corner of Willis and Ghuznee:

I was going to quit anyway. Yeah right.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Why Computer Ownership Should Be Tightly Regulated...

Check this out. Need I say more?

Victoria University has a New Chancellor

Following hot on the heals of Pat Walsh's appointment as Vice Chancellor next year, the Victoria University Council voted out sitting Chancellor Rosemary Barrington, in favour of Emeritus Professor Tim Beaglehole, and appointed (unopposed) Wellington City Chouncillor Ian McKinnon Pro Chancellor. It was my first University Council meeting (I was only an observer), and not one that I will forget in a hurry.

The election of new officers for 2005 was the first item on the agenda. It was announced that there were two nominations for Chancellor; Barrington and Beaglehole. Ballot papers were handed out by Deputy Vice Chancellor David MacKay and Council Secretary Christine Turner (who, evidently, reads my blog). Everyone filled out there papers and folded them up, and THEN the candidates spoke to their nominations (a little messed up, if you ask me).

Beaglehole (son of the great JC Beaglehole) spoke briefly that there was a lack of leadership on council and that it was time for a change. Barrington followed (at length) about how it was disappointing that she was opposed at all (ain't democracy a bitch?), and that it was dangerous to change Chancellor and Vice Chancellor in the same year.

The votes were cast, and Beaglehole won. Barrington resigned the Chair to Pro Chancellor Sharn Stevens (who is heading for Mongloia next year).

To be honest, the change doesn't mean much for students. The Chancellor is merely a figure head for the University Council; the real power lies with the Vice Chancellor. Barrington wasn't particularly student-friendly, but there is very little to indicate that Beaglehole will be any different.

Both Barrington and Beaglehole are past VUWSA exec members; Beaglehole was on exec 1952-1954, while Barrington was Women's Vice President in 1968 (on the same exec as Sue Kedgley).

The official Victoria University press statement is here, and Amanda Hill's take on it is here.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Andrew Little Makes Power List

According to the Listener, the 38th most powerful person in New Zealand is former VUWSA President, Andrew Little.

Andrew was President of VUWSA in 1987, NZUSA in 1988 and 1989, and is now national secretary of the Engineers, Printers, and Manufacturers' Union (New Zealand's biggest union). I met him at the NZUSA Christmas Party a few weeks ago, and was captivated by some of his experiences in student politics.

While the Listener is, perhaps, the last bastion of the once powerful left-wing media in a sea of right-wing tabloids (i.e., the Dominion Post, New Zealand Herald, not to mention all television and commercial radio), it is surprising that a leader of the union movement would be rated as one of the most powerful people - not I'm saying it's necessarily a bad thing. I have yet to read the article, so am not entirely sure of the criteria.

Unsurprisingly, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were first and second, followed by Peter Jackson and Governor of the Reserve Bank Alan Bollard.

Friday, December 03, 2004

How They Voted

Below is a list of how the MP's voted on yesterday’s Civil Union Bill, from the Herald, brought to my attention by DPF.

As a member of the Labour Party, I find it disappointing that 5 of our MP's voted against the bill. I was under the impression that we were a party which stood for social justice and the like? I think Damien O'Connor, John Tamihere, Harry Duynhoven, Ross Robertson, and Taito Phillip Field should really look at who they're representing in Parliament, and whether they're with the right party. Luckily, they're all going no where in a hurry.

I heard Peter Brown say on the radio the other morning that the New Zealand First caucus had decided to vote for a referendum. Someone obviously left Brian Donneley and Ron Mark out of the loop...

AYES: 65
Jim Anderton (Prog C, Wigram)
Rick Barker (Lab, Tukituki)
Tim Barnett (Lab, Christchurch Central)
David Benson-Pope (Lab, Dunedin South)
Georgina Beyer (Lab, Wairarapa)
Sue Bradford (Greens, list)
Mark Burton (Lab, Taupo)
Chris Carter (Lab, list)
Steve Chadwick (Lab, Rotorua)
Ashraf Choudhary (Lab, list)
Helen Clark (Lab, Mt Albert)
Michael Cullen (Lab, list)
David Cunliffe (Lab, New Lynn)
Lianne Dalziel (Lab, Christchurch East)
Rod Donald (Greens, list)
Brian Donnelly (NZ First, list)
Helen Duncan (Labour, list)
Ruth Dyson (Lab, Banks Peninsula)
Ian Ewen-Street (Greens, list)
Russell Fairbrother (Lab, Napier)
Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens, list)
Martin Gallagher (Lab, Hamilton West)
Phil Goff (Lab, Mt Roskill)
Mark Gosche (Lab, Maungakiekie)
Ann Hartley (Lab, Northcote)
George Hawkins (Lab, Manurewa)
Dave Hereora (Lab, list)
Rodney Hide (ACT, list)
Marian Hobbs (Lab, Wellington Central)
Pete Hodgson (Lab, Dunedin North)
Parekura Horomia (Lab, Ikaroa-Rawhiti)
Darren Hughes (Lab, Otaki)
Jonathan Hunt (Lab, list)
Sue Kedgley (Greens, list)
Annette King (Lab, Rongotai)
Winnie Laban (Lab, Mana)
Keith Locke (Greens, list)
Janet Mackey (Lab, East Coast)
Moana Mackey (Lab, list)
Steve Maharey (Lab, Palmerston North)
Nanaia Mahuta (Lab, Tainui)
Trevor Mallard (Lab, Hutt South)
Ron Mark (NZ First, list)
Mahara Okeroa (Lab, Te Tai Tonga)
David Parker (Lab, Otago)
Mark Peck (Lab, Invercargill)
Jill Pettis (Lab, Whanganui)
Lynne Pillay (Lab, Waitakere)
Richard Prebble (ACT, list)
Katherine Rich (Nat, list)
Mita Ririnui (Lab, Waiariki)
Matt Robson (Prog C, list)
Heather Roy (ACT, list)
Dover Samuels (Lab, Te Tai Tokerau)
Ken Shirley (ACT, list)
Clem Simich (Nat, Tamaki)
Jim Sutton (Lab, Aoraki)
Paul Swain (Lab, Rimutaka)
Nandor Tanczos (Greens, list)
Judith Tizard (Lab, Auckland Central)
Metiria Turei (Greens, list)
Mike Ward (Greens, list)
Margaret Wilson (Lab, list)
Pansy Wong (Nat, list)
Dianne Yates (Lab, list)

NOES: 55
Paul Adams (UF, list)
Marc Alexander (UF, list)
Shane Ardern (Nat, Taranaki-King Country)
Larry Baldock (United Future, list)
Don Brash (Nat, list)
Peter Brown (NZ First, list)
Gerry Brownlee (Nat, Ilam)
David Carter (Nat, list)
John Carter (Nat, Northland)
Brent Catchpole (NZ First, list)
Deborah Coddington (ACT, list)
Judith Collins (Nat, Clevedon)
Brian Connell (Nat, Rakaia)
Gordon Copeland (UF, list)
Clayton Cosgrove (Lab, Waimakariri)
Peter Dunne (UF, Ohariu-Belmont)
Harry Duynhoven (Lab, New Plymouth)
Gerrard Eckhoff (ACT, list)
Bill English (Nat, Clutha-Southland)
Taito Phillip Field (Lab, Mangere)
Stephen Franks (ACT, list)
Sandra Goudie (Nat, Coromandel)
Bill Gudgeon (NZ First, list)
Phil Heatley (Nat, Whangarei)
Paul Hutchison (Nat, Port Waikato)
Dail Jones (NZ First, list)
John Key (Nat, Helensville)
Wayne Mapp (Nat, North Shore)
Murray McCully (Nat, Albany)
Craig McNair (NZ First, list)
Muriel Newman (ACT, list)
Damien O'Connor (Lab, West Coast-Tasman)
Bernie Ogilvy (UF, list)
Pita Paraone (NZ First, list)
Edwin Perry (NZ First, list)
Jim Peters (NZ First, list)
Winston Peters (NZ First, Tauranga)
Simon Power (Nat, Rangitikei)
Ross Robertson (Lab, Manukau East)
Tony Ryall (Nat, Bay of Plenty)
Lynda Scott (Nat, Kaikoura)
Lockwood Smith (Nat, Rodney)
Murray Smith (UF, list)
Nick Smith (Nat, Nelson)
Roger Sowry (Nat, list)
Barbara Stewart (NZ First, list)
John Tamihere (Lab, Tamaki Makarau)
Georgina te Heuheu (Nat, list)
Lindsay Tisch (Nat, Piako)
Tariana Turia (Te Tai Hauauru)
Judy Turner (UF, list)
Kenneth Wang (ACT, list)
Maurice Williamson (Nat, Pakuranga)
Doug Woolerton (NZ First, list)
Richard Worth (Nat, Epsom)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Civil Union Bill Reading Today

I awoke this morning to the sound of a Catholic priest urging New Zealanders to watch how MP's vote and take it into account at the next election. Luckily, Associate Minister of Justice David Benson-Pope was able to provide a voice of reason.

That same article has a picture from yesterday's press conference. Note how Michael Wood is the only one in focus and the Young Progressives woman is cut off? Does this mean that Labour are the only ones with a clear vision, and the Progressives simply don't matter? :-P

Everyone from VUWSA has gone down to the reading this afternoon. Not me though - I'm taking advantage of the boss being out to play solitaire on my computer all afternoon (haha - actually, I'm not really - I've cleaned out two filing cabinets instead). I am listerning to parliament, and was going to put a blow-by-blow account up, but DPF and Tristan have done it perfectly already.

It has pasted - 65 - 55. Fantastic.

Interestingly, Xavier mentions this on DPF's blog:
"I went and spoke to Wayne Mapp about changing his mind. He told me about the 'poll' he did in his electorate, which basically amounted to having people come in and tell him they were against it. Nice one. I used to respect him, one of the only Tories I liked. Now I just think he has no backbone. I read a transcript of what he said at a public meeting about Civil Unions, and it made me really sad. Ah well. True blue seat and all that."
This is, I assume, the same survey that Mapp is referring to has "scientific". Yeah, whatever buddy.

You'll Only See This Once

If ever anyone doubted that someone with my dress sence could dress properly... check this out.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

David Talbot to Contest Clutha-Southland

I am pleased to see David Talbot will be Labour's candidate for Clutha-Southland.

David is one of the nicest people I know, while at the same time being very politically astute, and - when needed - can be very scathing. Facing the unenviable job of running in National heartland, against the crumpled former National Party leader, I am certain David is the best person for the job, and wish him all the best.

I believe the Clutha-Southland Labour candidate for the past 4 elections (Lesley Soper) is running in Invercargill, but someone might want to correct me on that.

Labour young gun aims for Clutha-Southland

Giving Clutha-Southland locals to chance to vote Labour for a change is what it’s all about for the new Labour candidate for Clutha-Southland, 29 year old David Talbot.

“I am proud to be part of a great team led by Helen Clark which has brought jobs and prosperity to the people in the diverse communities of Clutha-Southland,” he said.

David Talbot is undaunted by the prospect of standing against the Wellington-based incumbent MP for Clutha-Southland.

“The economy is going so well the Opposition doesn’t want to make it an election issue. We’ve got news for them – we do!

“Labour has a fantastic story to tell in this electorate and around the country with a growing economy, much lower unemployment, rising education standards, better access to healthcare and falling crime rates”.

“And hand in hand with a growing economy New Zealanders up and down the country are feeling proud of who and what we are with Kiwi film and music and our sports people, businesses and high achievers attracting international recognition,” said David Talbot.

David Talbot studied at Otago University and is not afraid of hard work or a grueling schedule: following his studies he spent time in Belgium as a full-time competitive cyclist.

A Bad Week For Dr Brash

I bet Don Brash wishes he simply didn't get out of bed this week.

Firstly, he come out saying that he would be changing his vote on the Civil Union Bill. After voting for it in the first reading, this is possibly the worst move he could make. He should have bit the bullet, cut his losses with the conservative side of the National Party, and shown some strength in holding up his opinion.

Interestingly, the chairs of the five major party youth wings (Young Labour, ACT on Campus, Young Greens, Young Nats, and Young Progressives) held a joint press conference this afternoon calling for all MP's to support the CUB. It was a huge success, with all spokespeople coming across well (although Michael Collins looked like a pimp), but notables had to be Michael Wood (President of Young Labour, and Labour candidate for Pakuranga 2002 and 2005 (?)) who dominated the show, and Emily Hayes, secretary of the Young Nationals who faced some fairly hard questions about Don Brash's flip flopping, and handled them fairly well (although she kept referring to him as "Mr Brash" rather than "Dr Brash").

It's telling when evan Gaz says Brash's stance this is "unfortunate"...

When the joint press statement appears on Scoop, I'll link it here.

Secondly, the latest Herald-DigiPoll has him polling at just 30.4%, almost 20 points below Labour. And, to rub salt in the wounds, he is polling just 20.3% for preferred Prime Minister.
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