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Winner takes all (of us to the cleaners?)

Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, May 18th, 2008 - 119 comments
Categories: MMP, same old national - Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Sunday Star Times reports National is keen to have a referendum on MMP. As you would expect Peter Shirtcliffe has been involved in lobbying the Nats for this policy. It’s just as AYB predicted.

I’m sure the advertising agencies will be rubbing their hands together in glee.

I would imagine we’ll hear a lot about how National just support the democratic right to choose an electoral system while their backers run big money campaigns to push first past the post. I see DPF is already running this line. Considering Peter Shirtcliffe was one of the funders of the ramshackle PR fiasco that was Davey’s Free Speech Coalition, one could be forgiven for suspecting David of sophism.

119 comments on “Winner takes all (of us to the cleaners?)”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Good on National if they do indeed hold a referendum to let the public decide what they would prefer.

    After several years of MMP the public can now make a more informed choice between MMP, FPP, STV and SM (?).

  2. IrishBill 2

    And your thoughts on the multi-million dollar pro-FPP campaign that would come with that referendum?

  3. Benodic 3

    Very smart politics from National. You tell people you have no view one way or the other on an issue and put it to referendum. What could be more democratic?

    Of course we all know National only puts to referendum those issues it wants changed and which the party or its backers can win in a PR war.

    You’ll never see National put asset sales, health cuts or the removal of work rights to referendum before making a decision. On those issues National’s taste for democracy quickly disappears.

  4. Actually National is asking the public what they think of MMP. Well done to them.

  5. higherstandard 5

    Bill Multi million maybe and no I’m not so worried that the NZ public can’t see past gross self interest – if you’re so paranoid why not limit the spend as per the EFB.

    If we did go back to FPP I doubt the world would come to an end as most of the worlds democracies have it. All it would mean is that Labour or National would be able to govern without pandering to the likes of Winston.

    Personally I think the majority of the public (National and Labour voters), myself included, would prefer a continuance of a form of proportional representation as I believe the Maori party, Greens and ACT add significantly to parliament.

  6. Daveo 6

    HS fair argument but given the tone of Shirtcliffe’s last anti-MMP campaign do you really think we’ll get that informed debate you’re looking for?

    Maybe if National had proposed a citizen’s assembly I’d have some sympathy and possibly even support it, but you and I both know this has nothing to do with informed debate and everything to with an expensive PR war designed to remove democratic checks on the governing party.

    Why do you think National would want to do that?

  7. coge 7

    Let the people decide, I say. This is true democracy in action. Of course neither system is perfect. But I have to say under FPP all politicians have to engage with their electorate, which is a healthy thing. Under MMP, you get list MP’s who are not answerable to any electorate. In fact, a great deal of these individuals are little more than free loading bludgers. I’m not sure if the term “representation” applies here. As I’ve said let the people decide.

  8. Benodic 8

    If we did go back to FPP I doubt the world would come to an end as most of the worlds democracies have it. All it would mean is that Labour or National would be able to govern without pandering to the likes of Winston.

    Actually it would mean parties could once again govern with minority support. Remember in 1993 National won fewer votes than Labour and just over 30% in total but managed to form a government with no checks whatsoever. How does that serve democracy?

  9. Brett – they could run a survey to do that and it would cost the taxpayer a lot less. I reckon there’d be a good deal of support within Labour for a return to FFP. Just imagine the policy they could have put through in the last eight years without their coalition partners pulling them right-ward!

  10. Wayne 10

    I’m interested in Peter Shirtcliffe’s comment in the youtube clip that MMP would have made impossible the changes made in the Douglas/Richardson years.

    These changes were hugely unpopular at the time and he’s basically admitting that he wants governments to not have to follow the will of the people and that FPP makes that easier than MMP. The idea that this guy or his proposals are serving democracy is laughable.

  11. higherstandard 11

    I’m dubious whether Shirtcliffe is correct regarding his comments about the Douglas and Richardson years.

    Perhaps at the very beginning of the MMP environment but I’d like to think that now the majority of politicians in National and Labour if faced with a similar situation to that upon the exit of Muldoon and the economic situation that was inherited prior to the Richardson budget would probably take a fairly pragmatic approach and put their ideological baggage aside and realise that fairly dramatic measures were required.

    Wayne the reality is there are times that the government must govern without fear or favour from the public, unfortunately our short electoral cycle means that once every very few years governements and oppositions must become involved in electioneering and make decisions that are driven more by electoral self interest than good governance.

    Luckily such dire circumstances haven’t occurred too often in the last few decades and certainly not in the last ten years so promises and actions made during campaigning have not come back to bite I not certain this will be the case this time around.

  12. Robinsod:

    Run a survey? thats crazy, judging by all the posts here about polls and surveys, you guys wouldnt believe the results anyway.

    I say have a referendum, and see what the public thinks.

    Personally I Like the USA system, you vote for who you want as your leader and also vote for the person you want to be your representative.

  13. Wayne 13

    Brett the fact you think the US system even approaches a proper democracy shows how ignorant you are on even the most basic issues. The US system is essentially an elected monarchy and is a relic of the 18th century. Even the president’s cabinet isn’t elected by or accountable to the public.

    The funny thing is the US knows this to be the case itself and when they’re setting up new governments in other countries they put in a modern proportional representation system similar to ours rather than their broken and antiquated system.

    MMP isn’t perfect but it’s better and more suited to a modern democracy than the archaic British or American systems.

  14. Wayne 14

    Higherstandard: that may be the case but if so let’s stop pretending this is about democracy. It’s not, it’s about making sure the business elite can ram through reforms that favour them without the public having a say.

  15. Principessa 15

    I think this is really targeted at the Maori Party. I don’t think the Nats necessarily want to get rid of MMP and go back to FPP- I just think they want to put some amendments in place to kill the overhang the Maori Party causes and/or to remove them from being Kingmaker.

  16. Wayne:

    You missed my point.

    My point was about the referendum, I think its a good idea to let the country decide.

  17. Wayne 17

    Shall we have referenda every three years on our electoral system Brett, or just every 12 or 15 years? Or just on policies that National wants to push through but would rather stand arms-length from and let their business backers fight through a multi-million dollar PR campaign?

  18. all_your_base 18

    Looks like a caluclated gamble to me – classic Crosby/Textor. I still think this could go either way for the Nats though. On the one hand they get to look responsive to the electorate’s concerns that smaller parties may get somewhat disproportionate parliamentary influence under MMP; on the other hand it may serve to remind people that despite all the smiles and spin, Key’s really just the voice-piece of the business elite outed by Hager in The Hollow Men – same old National.

    Weasel words like “some proportionality makes sense, it’s a question of under what conditions and how volatile the outcomes can be” from Key don’t seem to me very likely to help assure the electorate that this is a man with any bedrock opinion either… Have an opinion for God’s sake, it’s painful to listen to.

  19. Lew 19

    The symbolic aspects of a campaign to return to FPP are where it would be won and lost – not on the policy or actual electoral functions of either system. I don’t think that even National supports a return to FPP, though they certainly have the most to gain from it. No other relevant party will favour a return, and so I think the campaign will be more even than people seem to think. The earliest we’re looking at is 2017, and that changes the mix considerably.

    I’d say the primary symbolic quality MMP systems represent is `diversity’, which will no doubt be set up opposite `monoculture’ or something similar. Because of this we’ll have two kinds of parties favouring MMP: those for whom diversity is a major philosophical plank; and those who, under FPP, would be marginalised or eliminated from power.

    So at the present time:

    Labour: Diversity. Much to gain from MMP since its support parties are reliant upon it.
    National: Key’s move to the centre denotes an appeal to diversity, and National could need ACT and UF support, but would be happiest of the other parties with a return to FPP.
    Green: Diversity. FPP is not an option since Green candidates are weak in electorate contests.
    Maori: Diversity; though these guys have nothing to lose from FPP and could in fact gain from it.
    NZ First/United Future/Progressive/ACT: Needs MMP to survive despite one seat each – especially ACT and NZF since Rodney and Winston are marginal.

    The changes NZ sees between now and 2017 will be the major determinant as to whether this diversity/monoculture battle flies or not. By then NZ will be significantly more Asian, Pacific and Maori than it currently is and a much larger proportion of the electorate will have known nothing but MMP. A referendum like this isn’t going to look like a general election; there’ll be a people voting against their party’s interests; but the list above will generally determine the strength of the campaign. On current polling almost 20% of the electorate are undecided on this issue and that’s where the battle will tend to break along party lines; for this reason I don’t think it’ll result in electoral system change. But I think this is a good move for National because they can be seen to be promoting choice. I don’t think Labour will be terribly opposed to it but rather will be kicking themselves for having missed the opportunity.

    Principessa: Presuming the number of Maori seats stayed the same, the Maori Party stand to gain from a return to FPP, since on current showing they would hold more seats than all the other minor parties combined, and they don’t contest the party vote in any case. This would mean they’d function as veto holders unless one party got a clear majority alone; and even in that case the other party would have no choice but to work more closely with them to be viable at the next election. Of course, if National goes through with their plan to scrap the Maori seats in 2014, this is all moot.

    All this is subject to hindsight being 20/20 :)

    L

  20. Lew 20

    Wayne: NZ was promised a referendum in the future when the system was changed the first time. This looks like it might be that referendum.

    Nobody’s suggesting a referendum every few years, and reductio ad absurdum doesn’t make you look smart or cool, even next to Brett Dale.

    L

  21. higherstandard 21

    Wayne

    With your views on the business elite and dark back room dealings you may be better off talking to Eve on her site.

    I find it about as convincing as Bob Clarkson’s convictions that the country is being indoctrinated and manipulated by a bunch of hairy legged lesbians and their male equivalents.

  22. This is another Key flip-flop. Brash was all for a referendum and getting rid of MMP but Key said that wouldn’t happen. Now, I think they’re trying to double up on riding the wave of dissatisfaction both to win outright and get rid of MMP – thereby restoring the old status quo…. It could go badly wrong for them if they are seen as being opportunistic and anti-democratic – just as Labour’s decision to go to the polls early backfired for them in 2002.

    Agenda this morning was interesting – Guyon seemed well-informed for once and asked the next question rather than just taking ‘it’s all gone to hell under Labour and we’ll make it better’ as an answer he asked ‘but what exactly would you do?’ and every time English couldn’t say.

  23. higherstandard 23

    Principessa

    I think you’re way off the mark regarding the Maori party I would not be at all surprised to see them in coalition with National.

    Lew also makes an excellent point that they (Maori party) will be much stronger under FPP and despite Nationals stated ambition that the seats should go at a future date I don’t expect that to be in my lifetime.

  24. higherstandard 24

    Steve

    What is antidemocratic about asking the public their opinion ?

  25. Draco TB 25

    Under MMP, you get list MP’s who are not answerable to any electorate.

    This is a false argument. All MP’s are answerable to an electorate. It’s just that some are answerable to the local electorate and some are answerable to the national electorate. You can vote to oust even list MPs from parliament. Others, of course, can vote to keep them in.

  26. Lew 26

    HS: “What is antidemocratic about asking the public their opinion ?”

    I’ll not answer on Steve’s behalf, but as political scientist I can’t let this sort of naivete go unchallenged.

    No referendum, or indeed no public question, is simply `asking the public their opinion’. No question is asked until a preferred answer or answers has already been sketched out in the asker’s mind. Which isn’t to say that I agree with the conspiracy nuts that National are trying to steal democracy for their big business overlords; just that I think National plan to use NZ’s electoral history to their advantage and tap a vein of dissatisfaction with `special interests’ and `the tail wagging the dog’. I’m almost cynical enough to argue that it’s another example of John Key writing policy by focus group.

    Anyway, Steve never accused National of being anti-democratic in this: he said there was a danger they might be `seen as being opportunistic and anti-democratic’. This could happen if they appeared to be making changes which explicitly favoured them at the expense of others. This would make the current complaints about the Electoral Finance Act look like small beer indeed.

    L

  27. higherstandard 27

    So Lew

    Your position is that the last time there was a referendum on the electoral system the preferred answer or answers had already been sketched out in the asker’s (The government of the day) mind.

    I’m sorry but I can’t remember the questions being blatantly loaded towards MMP.

  28. Lew 28

    HS: I didn’t say they were; and I don’t believe they will be this time either.

    The question is only one very small part of a referendum. All the information used by the public to interpret and answer the question is at the control of various political parties, lobby groups and other actors. Those aspects (shorthanded as the `campaign’) are what makes the word `opinion’ look simplistic.

    L

  29. Multi billion dollar publicity campaigns! Breathless exaggeration methinks.

    I am astonished that you lot would presume that National are trying to remove choice by offering a referendum. Clearly you are assuming that national have the same motives as Labour. After all it was your Labour party and it’s Klingons that forced the EFB on an unsuspecting public.

    I believe it is time for another look at the electoral system. The version we ended up with is a manipulation of the recommended version.
    The winners from a change back to FPP (which I do not support) would be Nats, labour and the Maori party.
    Perhaps a system with more electorate members than list members would be more appropriate. And remove the ability to stand on the list as well as an electorate.
    We have a system now where the few dictate to the many in a much more skewed manner than FPP ever gave us.
    You only need to look at the performance of the greens and winston first to come to that conclusion. It is time the tail stopped wagging the dog.

  30. Lew 30

    BB: While I disagree with your overall assertion (that the few are dictating to the many), I think your overall analysis is about right: that the lead possibility is an amendment to the MMP system to change the balance between list and electorate. I’d be interested as the discussion wears on through the next term in what options people think are viable or useful.

    L

  31. AncientGeek 31

    If they are wanting to go to the massive expense of running a referendum, I’d like propose another question gets added.

    Should the electoral period by increased to 4 years?

    The current electoral period is ridiculously short. Most of the countries that we look to have at least 4 years. From memory, I think Britain is 5 years.

    It was set long before the current select committee process. It was set before MMP was brought in and the subsequent coalition process and the time it takes. That doesn’t count the time it takes to write the bill, get legal opinion from the crown law office, and then get them again during negotiation. Then you have to get it on the parliamentary calendar.

    As it currently stands I’d say that you almost have to start a bill in the previous term.

  32. Wayne:

    Referendums should be used in issues on certain policies that have an overwhelming Public response either way.

    In terms of the electoral system, a referendum should be used every five elections.

  33. AncientGeek 33

    bb: I thought that the number of electorate seats is already greater than the number of list seats. As I understand the system, the number of people in the electorate seats is fixed, and the number of seats in parliament is fixed with a limited overhang.

    Since there have been at least 3 censuses since the introduction of MMP, and the population has increased. The number of list seats should have decreased relative to the number of electorate seats.

    Have a I missed something?

  34. Lew 34

    AncientGeek: I was just about to post speculation that a change to the electoral period might be on the cards too. This would allow an EFA-like system of electoral spending regulation to work more elegantly and with less impact on political expression overall.

    We’d just have to make sure it wasn’t in Rugby World Cup year, otherwise there’d be a change in government every term we didn’t host it…

    L

  35. bill brown 35

    Note to John:

    First win election, then disfranchise your opposition.

    Who mixed his tapes up?

  36. gobsmacked 36

    It may be clever short-term politics. It’s absolutely wrong otherwise.

    Key proposes this question:

    “Are you satisfied with MMP as a system or would you prefer a change?”

    That is not a question for a referendum. That is a customer satisfaction survey.

    I would prefer some changes – to the 5% threshold, for example. Which way do I vote?

    A real referendum is a clear question (e.g. Yes or No to a country entering the European Union, Yes or No to term limits in the US Congress, etc). The people can choose between 1) the status quo, and 2) a defined, clear alternative.

    But we all know this is not about NZ’s voting system. It’s tapping into “time for a change”, “bloody politicians”, nothing more. We certainly need an informed debate on democracy and the constitution, we don’t need cheap gimmicks like this.

  37. If you believe that the American system is still a democracy wow, how’s that for naivety.
    It is as Mussolini said,”Fascism should really be called Corporatism. Google: the money party and you know why private finance should not be involved in the democratic process.

    And by the way why don’t you watch this excellent presentation in an American University and yes it is about conspiracies: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=812494320239887035&hl=en
    http://patriotsquestion911.com/

  38. Travellerev:

    People still vote in a free election in the USA. Its a democracy.

  39. Ruth 39

    Irish Bill – I’m probably one of the few on the centre-right who support MMP – I always have.

    The NZ public now have a sophisticated understanding of MMP, and the next election will show that. The public are going to vote like we still have FFP – either Nat or Lab.

    I do believe ACT will be sent into oblivion along with NZ First. And that is a good thing.

  40. Lew 40

    Tavellerev: Whether or not the US system is a democracy depends on one’s definition of `democracy’ (and there are several). Without an actual discussion on which definition of `democracy’ is appropriate, the question you claim to answer is irrelevant. I can assure you that to most people who understand more than one formally-defined definition of the term, the US is still a democracy.

    I’ll watch your linkies this evening if I get the chance.

    L

    Captcha: `customs happening’.

  41. IrishBill 41

    Lew, there was never a referendum promised as part of the testing of the system. That was a comment made by Jenny Shipley that seems to have woven it’s way into NZ’s political mythology.

  42. Lew 42

    IB: Interesting, do you have a reference? Not that I don’t believe you, I’d just like to read around it a bit because that changes the situation somewhat.

    L

  43. IrishBill 43

    Sorry Lew, I’m working from memory. As I recall it was mentioned in the 1999 sometime as referendums were in the public eye due to the minimum sentencing one being up for the vote. I’m sure the paper on the process for electoral change is out in the interweb somewhere.

  44. Brett Dale
    May 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm
    Travellerev:

    People still vote in a free election in the USA. Its a democracy.

    —————

    What about the people who arent allowed the time off work to vote (as it is on a week day) and a left waiting outside in lines after the polling booths are closed?

  45. Lew 45

    Travellerev: Sorry, I thought you had something to add to the discussion on the topic of democracy and electoral systems, but it seems you’re just whoring the same wingnut propaganda about 9-11. Seen it all before.

    killinginthenameof: Implementation problems exist in all democracies, but that doesn’t change the basic nature of the system. You’ll need to do a lot better than this to argue that the world’s most mature democracy isn’t one at all.

    L

  46. lprent 46

    Lew: “IB: Interesting, do you have a reference?”

    I don’t have a reference either. It is one of those enduring myths.

    But Graeme Edgeler talked about it on KB this morning in this comment.

    If you haven’t run across him before, he writes at HardTalk, and is usually right about these types of matters. There was some subsequent discussion, that I briefly scanned.

  47. Lew 47

    Lynn: I do read Edgeler, yes. But I don’t usually bother with the comments section on KB. Thanks.

    L

  48. Policy Parrot 48

    Just a side note to add – if National achieves majority party government in this election, all of this is moot.

    They will still be able to do anything they like. What MMP does is impose a cheaper form of review than would be the case with an upper chamber.

    If the right are so desperate to enact their agenda – convince 50% + 1 of the population its the best way to go. Otherwise they’ll have to govern by coalition.

    I don’t think there is anyone, aside from a few business elites who would like to remake our country in the form of Estonia, who would be prepared to give them that opportunity.

  49. Monty 49

    I believe the mix of the FPP and MMP would pesent to NZ the ideal electoral system. One where say 63 seats and 7 maori seats and contested and the remaining 50 are up for grabs under a proportional system. Once the Treaty settlements are complete, the country would have 70 seats under the electoral system and no Maori seats.

    the advangtage of this is that no longer will the parasite on the tail (ie Winston and the Loonie Greenies) have the power to dictate terms that 90% of the country did not vote for.

    National with an absolute majority will be able to ensure this does go to referendum. I also think that in time when Labour are free from the shackles of minority co-alition partners will be happy to support such a proposal. Punching this through while a main party remains utterly dependant upon minor parasites was never an option. Maybe – this is one of the reasons why 56% of the country are now comfortable with national having an absolute majority

  50. Lew 50

    Monty: How does this differ significantly from the current system?

    L

  51. lprent 51

    Ummm
    Current electorates

    See the section “How is the number of electorates decided?”

    Currently we have after the 2007 census
    7 Māori electorates
    + 47 North Island electorates
    + 16 South Island electorates
    + 50 list members of Parliament
    = 120 members of Parliament.

    There are required to be 16 south island seats.
    The other electorate seats are required to be about the same size
    Maori seats are divided on the maori roll
    North island seats outside divided on the NI general roll

    So in 1996 I think (could be wrong) it was 60 seats and 60 list. Since then we’ve dropped down to 50 list seats due to population increases.

  52. Oh Lew,
    You sometimes really sound like a nice guy.
    Where does the whoring come in when trying to get people to look again at what really happened on 911.
    Please, please just once finish a scientific presentation on 911

  53. Brett Dale
    May 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm
    Travellerev:

    =People still vote in a free election in the USA. Its a democracy.=

    Are you telling me that voting equals democracy?
    Ever had the feeling nobody really listened.
    Deuh

  54. Lew 54

    Travellerev: I am a nice guy, I just don’t tolerate idiots very well.

    It’s whoring because it’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and it’s known to be one of your axes to grind. Why keep pushing it here? Not enough hits on your own site?

    L

  55. Ari 55

    Monty: That’s called “AMP”, or additional member proportional. The issue with AMP is that it’s not really a proportional system, because electorate contests have a huge effect on the shape of parliament overall.

    I think a referendum would be a waste of time personally, but if people really want it that badly, they’re welcome to waste time and money trying to bring down MMP.

  56. Ari 56

    That said, if it does go to referendum, we could get something productive done by asking the public about abolishing the treshhold.

  57. Monty 57

    Lew

    only 50 seats would be subject to proportional representation. So if say Winston got 6% he would return 3 seats in parliament. if National won 40 electoral seats but won 40% of the electoral vote they would have 60 seats total. I think this system would be more about fighting to get both electoral seats as well as the party vote.

    Parties not getting over 5% would not be saved. They would then only qualify for any electoral seat won. there would be no top-ups.

    The main idea would be to stop the parasite minor parties controlling the government agenda is the way that the Greens and Winston have done.

    These are just my thoughts – the electorate does not want a return to FPP, and clearly there is a lot of discontent with MMP. Could this be the balance – delivering more clear cut results – minor parties getting the representation, and the major parties will not be so bound to the minor parties. I do not expect the greenies or Winston to like it. But then again given that those two parties supported the corruption of our democracy through their support of the EFA then in my opinion Winston and Sue can go fuck themselves.

  58. Dan 58

    The Nats are playing things pretty much as various writers have predicted. I am surprised they have played the FPP card so early when the connections to Shirtcliffe and co can be well laid out before the election. We must remember the parliamentary committee that set up the MMP poll chose the least likely system to succeed because they wanted it to fall over. But MMP came in anyway. A referendum would be useful in that we could fine tune the system. I am quite relaxed that the MMP system would stay. As others have said, the Maori Party and the Greens have been very effective, and promote particular viewpoints.

    Expect educational vouchers as one of the next 1990 policies that National will endeavour to refloat. “Parental choice” will be the catch cry! The last attempt at bulk funding was so scandalously unfair that it cost National heavily. Vouchers is the same nonsense in a different format.

    Winner take all…no thanks. Let us keep the balances that MMP offers.

  59. jon 59

    One of the strong reasons for MMP was the following

    Brake on hasty or authoritarian Government
    Advocates see MMP as ensuring that there is an appropriate brake on hasty or authoritarian action by
    Government as an almost inevitable consequence of coalition government. MMP is seen as generally
    providing a check on any prospect of a single party or a group within a single party of forcing through a
    policy agenda without appropriate consultation.

    Ref: Inquiry into the Review of MMP
    Report of the
    MMP Review Committee August 2001

    MMP appeared to fail with respect to Rail but appears to be working with respect to ETS.

    To answer the previous questions. From the 2001 Parliamentary report
    Was a referendum promised?
    52 percent of New Zealanders indicated that it was their understanding that there would be a future
    referendum on whether MMP should be kept or not. 35 percent did not believe there was any
    commitment to a referendum and 13 percent were unsure.

    Timing referendum
    Those in favour wanted a referendum sooner rather than later. In total 85 percent of those in favour or
    the referendum wanted it held in either 2001 or 2002.

    Support for referendum
    There was decisive support for a binding referendum being held to decide whether to keep MMP or not.
    76 percent were in favour and 17 percent were opposed.
    .

  60. Monty, Sounds like the worst of both worlds. You get the unfairness of FPP — in 1978 and 1981 Labour got the most votes but fewer seats thanks to some gerrymandering — and the fragmentation of MMP.

    Under MMP, not only have we had unprecedented diversity amongst representatives, and fairness, but NZers quickly learned how to use the system to provide the sorts of checks and balances that FPP rarely could. Sorry to say this, but in all of the recent elections (1999 on), the preferred option got to form the government, but not to govern alone, a certain quantum of trust being wanting.

    As I understand it, the first ballot would be to decide whether people wanted a change. What I fear is that people vote for a change away from MMP on the first ballot, having focused on the negatives, and then find themselves faced with the choice of STV and FFP. Sounds like a clever ruse to me if this is the case.

    The first ballot should be to determine the preferred option to stand against MMP.

  61. Ag 61

    If FPP is reintroduced, it will basically be the end of New Zealand politics for people living outside the marginals, and for those who support third parties (remember that the old Social Credit party once got over a fifth of the vote and was rewarded with two seats for that).

    The only party that really loses with MMP is National, since there is no natural majority for the ACT like policies that many of its members would like to impose on New Zealand.

    I remember reading that Don Brash had complained that he didn’t want to run as “Helen-lite”. Running as Helen-lite is the only way that National will ever become the preferred party of government again.

  62. Ari 62

    Monty- are you familiar with the idea of tyranny of the majority? A system with reasonable accomodation for minority views, like MMP, helps prevent majorities from making decisions that they don’t bear the negative consequences of. (For instance, pakeha voters abolishing the Maori seats)

    If voters are tired of minority parties under MMP, they can rally behind a large party and attempt to give them a majority government without a coalition. If voters are tired of large, unilateral governments under FPP, there is very little they can do.

    If you seriously think the EFA is the “corruption of our democracy”, you really need to read up on the intent and purpose behind free speech laws. The EFA doesn’t touch on the principle that free speech laws enshrine, (which is that no political speech should lead to or result from coercion or threats) and while it’s not perfect, it is much better than not dealing with paralell campaigning or anonymous donations at all.

    Jafapete: That’s why the vote for alternatives to MMP be performed at the same time, and placed higher on the ballot- so it primes people to consider MMP fairly against the other systems.

    Ag: Agreed. The whole FPP thing is really tipping National’s hand.

  63. RedLogix 63

    Compare and contrast:

    1. Labour introduce the EFA intending to close a number of election funding loopholes that National unethically (and unrepetantly exploited in 2005). For this they have been endlessly lambasted as corrupt… and worse.

    2. National propose a referendum with the clear intention of rejigging the electoral system back to the “good old days” of FPP when they could do whatever they liked in power. And we all discuss this idea as if it were a perfectly ethical idea and that all we are doing is giving the people the chance to express their opinion.

    Bollocks. Wake up, we are being suckered into another debate framed in emotional terms that we cannot win. There is only one answer to this nonsense… face the truth head on. National are not trying to give us choices, they are cynically taking them away from us.

    What does surprise me is that they might normally have waited until after the election and taken power to announce this; but on the back of this weeks poll I guess they’re feeling more cocky than usual.

  64. Jafapete said “Monty, Sounds like the worst of both worlds. You get the unfairness of FPP — in 1978 and 1981 Labour got the most votes but fewer seats thanks to some gerrymandering — and the fragmentation of MMP.”

    I sense a bit of distortion of the facts here JP – the main reason that Labour got a higher tally of votes than National in 1978 and 1981 was due to the Labour majorities in the then-four Maori seats due to the Ratana alliance. If you want to call THAT “gerrymandering”….

  65. gobsmacked 65

    Basic logic breakdown there, Inventory.

    It doesn’t matter what electorate people cast their votes in. Everybody voted once. Labour got more votes than National. End of story.

  66. Wrong gobsmacked. Under the “old” system the total of votes for each party was completely irrelevant. The determining factor was the number of SEATS won by each party. Labour’s vote total was always inflated by the margin of their wins in the Maori seats where five-figure majorities were the rule rather than the exception.

  67. Ted 67

    I rofl at 1990s Barry Soper.

  68. r0b 68

    Wrong gobsmacked. Under the “old’ system the total of votes for each party was completely irrelevant

    Which was exactly the problem, and exactly why we changed to MMP.

    Labour’s vote total was always inflated by the margin of their wins in the Maori seats

    In what way “inflated” iv2? Maori votes shouldn’t count just like everyone elses?

  69. sean14 69

    Why all the hysteria over Peter Shirtcliffe? Was his campaign effective last time?

    People worried about multi-million dollar campaigns obviously have very little faith in the intelligence of the electorate.

  70. Inflated rOb in that Labour had a lock on the Maori seats. Under the agreement between the Labour Party and the Ratana church, Labour had 50,000 votes pretty much guaranteed. Of course Labour eventually took the support of Maoridom for granted, culminating in losing all the Maori seats to NZ First in 1996. You could argue that National had a similar mortgage on the rural vote, but that was spread over 56 seats, as opposed to the Maori bloc, which was concentrated in four seats – hence my use of the term “inflated”. It was in no way meant to be derogatory to Maori.

    PS – captcha “train melted” – a bad omen for Cullen?

  71. r0b 71

    hence my use of the term “inflated’. It was in no way meant to be derogatory to Maori.

    Well I’m very pleased to hear it iv2, because that’s the sort of comment which it is easy to attack as rather racist and foolish don’t you think? So glad we don’t have to go there.

    So Labour had a lock on the Maori vote, and National had a lock on the farmer vote – so what? Everyone gets one vote. The original point stands. In those elections Labour won many more votes, but fewer seats. Such is the suckyness of FFP. Let’s not go back.

  72. r0b 72

    People worried about multi-million dollar campaigns obviously have very little faith in the intelligence of the electorate.

    Someone better tell the multibillion dollar advertising industry that their efforts are futile. I expect they’ll want to clear out their desks on Monday.

  73. This will be a visceral issue for many, many voters. National is proposing to initiate a process that could ultimately strip almost half the voters in New Zealand of a vote that actually counts toward representation. Labour voters in safe National seats and National voters in safe Labour seats will lose their votes, along with every voter for all minor parties.

    There are 8 political parties in Parliament. Only one has a policy of removing MMP: National.

    They did not let people choose on asset sales or anything else that really mattered. Clearly this os all about getting National back into power and keeping them there by neutering voters.

    While claiming to be champions of democracy, Nationals real agenda is to restrict democracy.

    Frankly, it makes me angry. They want to take MY VOTE away. They can’t get any more personal than that.

  74. We can agree there rOb – I’m not convinced that a return to FPP would be the best move. But I DO support the suggestion for a referendum so that the public can be consulted as to whether THEY believe that MMP is the best solution.

    It’s been nice debating the issue, but I have a shit of a week ahead, so sleep is necessary! G’night all!!

  75. Tane 75

    Ted, yeah, me too. Though 1990s Steve Maharey is pretty funny too.

    sean14, yes, Shirtcliffe’s campaigning was very effective last time. He frightened a lot of people off MMP with his multimillion dollar fear campaign.

  76. Sean14: Shirtcliffe’s 1993 campaign came very close to being successful. The scare-mongering funded by CBG’s millions reduced MMPs support from over 80% to 54%. Another example of how millionsires have “freedom of speech” and no one else is heard in the din.

  77. gobsmacked 77

    Actually Inventory2 is arguing that Labour potentially had MORE support than they received at the ballot box. The opposite of “inflated”.

    Safe seats discourage voters.

  78. Thanks gobsmacked & rOb.

    I can see the point IV2 is making — that the concentration of Maori votes in a few seats allowed National to win more seats with fewer votes, but that doesn’t avoid the problem that this also happened in the general electorates, as well.

    Also, there was gerrymandering, and that was a factor in National getting more seats than votes. Bob Chapman used to fume about it for weeks after the boundaries were announced in the late 1970s. A good example was that Labour voting area in Gisborne (forget the name) that was always carved off into the surrounding rural seat.

    Do we really want to return to that?

  79. Christopher Nimmo 79

    Uh.. what? Nobody has to vote Labour because Ratana tells them to, and only a small number of Maori actually are Ratana. Should Ratana praticioners be disenfranchised?

  80. This will be a visceral issue for many, many voters. National is proposing to initiate a process that could ultimately strip almost half the voters in New Zealand of a vote that actually counts toward representation. Labour voters in safe National seats and National voters in safe Labour seats will lose their votes, along with every voter for all minor parties.

    Both sides ‘waste’ votes but a problem exists only if the proportion is well out of whack with the number of seats. That tends to only happen if the boundaries are gerrymandered. Anyway, MMP wastes votes below a threshold, and requires parties with massive support to adopt policies supported by hardly anyone (up to 80% of votes wasted).

  81. Paul 81

    Ah the halcyon days of true representation.

    This party political broadcast was bought to you by one of the extremists at Kiwiblog.

    Piggy Muldoon won one election by a landslide, then was reject by the electorate in the next two elections. That’s what I call true representation.

    A simple choice between a descriptive parliament and a delegated parliament is not simple as the disinformation and emotive campaign by the economic elite of NZ will hijack any reasonable debate.

    I see the poor extremists (there is no other word for them now) at Kiwiblog are decrying the loss of power to the lesbians and tree huggers. I’ve offered a fucking small violin for them to accompany their tears.

  82. AncientGeek 82

    What a long weekend this has been, at least judging from the comments

  83. r0b 83

    AG – Lynn had a theory that it’s the winter weather, but I don’t see it myself – too sudden. That said, I don’t have an alternative theory! Maybe we’ve just passed critical mass somehow. Be interesting to see how it is next weekend. Anyway, g’night.

  84. Funny listening to JOhn Key on Morning Report this morning (Monday) trying to say there was public demand for a referendum on MMP. Followed by Peter Dunne who said the voting system belongs to the people.

    If the voting system belongs to the people, why is National mandating a referendum that wasn’t able to get 5% of electors’ signatures on a CIR petition?

    It’s a naked grab for power. Nothing more…or less.

  85. erikter 85

    If the voting system belongs to the people, why is tha we have a minister of Foreign Affairs, a member of a party with 5.1% of the vote, who acts as the tail wagging the dog, and needs to be appeased/bought with the baubles of power so the socialists can stay afloat.

    To paraphrase S. Withers: It’s a naked grab for power. Nothing more or less.

    [lprent: Tell me – do you have anything worth saying that is not a canned line? I just scanned back through your 10-15 comments without finding anything of interest. I think I’ll have to put you on my watch for spam. You look like a machine driven troll.]

  86. gobsmacked 86

    Dear oh dear. Erikter tries to be a clever clogs, and ends up looking a fool.

    What would happen if the system redistributed – or excluded – NZ First’s votes (and presumably, all the other minor parties, as they all have less support)?

    Labour would not have the current constrained minority government, negotiating and compromising. It would have unfettered MAJORITY government. Mmmmmm … socialists!

    Sounds good to me – but not, in fact, what the people voted for.

  87. QoT 87

    National are kidding themselves. If it comes down to MMP vs. FPP, and sufficient young voters get mobilized, MMP wins hands down. I’ve encountered several 18/19-year-olds recently who don’t even know what First Past the Post is, and when explained? Could not understand how anyone ever thought that was a logical way to elect governments.

  88. lprent 88

    QoT: The usual problem is getting young voters to go to the polling booth. It has been a campaign focus by various parties over the years, especially the greens.

    It is one of the more frustrating areas in campaigning.

  89. I come from a country where the MMP system has been in place for a long time. It is one man one vote, and the result is a system that is responsive to the people’s needs. There are some parties that may gain huge numbers of votes on a special topic and when the topic is dealt with they wither away again.
    There still are two big parties one called the Christian Democrats and the other Labour. Currently the Christian democrats are in power, but they are held in check by the fact that there are fairly strong minority parties who are very vocal and wield considerable power. Added to that the Dutch don’t heckle when debating serious issues. People are allowed to speak without interruptions and they expect To Be listened to and the debate should be about arguments for or against rather than play it on the personal level. The Dutch would find the heckling that goes on while debating issues that are important very impolite, childish and distracting from the job at hand.
    It seems to me that for the Dutch politicians cooperation in making decisions that will serve our nation is more important than to battle it out every time there is a debate because that leads to unresolved problems and votes along party lines. I can understand why National would want the old system back they are after all good old fashioned Tories and there must have been mighty pissed off when this system came into place.

    At the risk of being called a nut job again I put it to you that National brings this subject up because it has been told to do so by its money masters. They want power and if I can’t get it by buying the election victory for their favourite sock puppet John Key they will just try another way.

    By the way do you remember Ruth Richardson, yes I’m sure you do and most of you will remember her not too fondly. In case you’re wondering what she’s doing now I can inform you of the following: Ruth Richardson is a board member for a group called centre for independent studies.
    This group CIS is a neo liberal think tank which is funded by a series of corporations like Shell, BHP Billiton. They only release the names of their corporate funders if they agree to do so. They also have private funders and amongst others, god I love this, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch – Mother of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. Oh oops, I suppose that means that the Fairfax Family and Rupert Murdoch share some interest. Could it be total media control?
    CIS has a special New Zealand policy group, by the way.
    Other board members are Michael Chaney – Chairman of The National Australia Bank Robert Champion de Crespigny – Chairman and Chief Executive of Normandy Mining Ltd from 1985 to 2002. Current chairman of Primelife Lts and Buka Minerals and Sir Rod Eddington who is currently non-executive Chairman (Aust & NZ) of JPMorgan, in addition to maintaining non-executive director roles with News Corporation, Rio Tinto, Allco Finance Group Limited. Rio Tinto wants to mine the black sea bed sands. Do you begin to get the feeling that the vultures are circling poor old New Zealand too?
    The JP Morgan chase bank of which Rod Eddington is a non executive chairman opened a bank or New Zealand last year only open for big corporate money transactions, what you reckon.
    I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. This is the link to their website: http://www.cis.org.au/aboutcis/board_dir.html you can’t even call it a conspiracy any more it so out in the open.
    And here is another link to source watch, a watchdog site at tries to keep an eye on these think tanks, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Centre_for_Independent_Studies&printable=yes
    And just to keep the conspiracy thing alive, CIS has close ties with the ultra secretive neo con think tank the Council for Foreign relations in America, home to the likes of Cheney, Rockefeller and other assorted financial and political elites.
    this is another nice article about Think tanks: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/12/1060588392062.html

  90. Dancer 90

    Poor Bill English – yet another example of where his greater policy savvy is being over-ruled by Key.

    “National’s deputy leader Bill English has stated that MMP is here to stay, but one suspects that this is to pacify those minority parties who might be called upon to support National in the next election in a coalition.

    But Mr English said yesterday that a National-controlled government would not hold a referendum. He said he had campaigned against its introduction, but the public had wanted it.

    It would be difficult for a National government to use the MMP system that voters wanted to take power only to get rid of it once it had served its purpose, he said.” NZ Herald, 30 May 2007 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10442545)

  91. randal 91

    key now says taxpayers expect up to $180 tax cuts per week because they have high costs…what does that mean? is that National policy or is he just floating nonsense figures in the air to confuse people…this election is becoming psychologically very dangerous and damaging.

  92. TomS 92

    Middle aged white males were enraged when the South Auckland vote came in and got Labour over the line in 2005. The idea of the Pacific Island women who cleans their loos thwarting their God given right to a big tax cut has driven them to distraction over the last few years, because its shaken their belief system that tells them they have a patriarchal entitlement charge, the rich white men in the castles and the brown brown folk at their gate, as the Lord almighty ordained. They will never accept a system that gives those they consider their sexual, racial and social inferiors as much say in the running of the country. And looking at the massively white, old and male National Party one can see that their peers in Parliament agree with them.

    P.S. I object to having to type “Phylis Blanc” before I could post this! Yuk!

  93. Draco TB 93

    Why all the hysteria over Peter Shirtcliffe? Was his campaign effective last time?

    It was very effective. Support for MMP dropped from ~85% to a little over 50% and all it was was scare mongering. It wasn’t designed to give people the information needed to make an informed decision but to sew doubt and it worked.

    If I was to support a change to our present electoral system I would either have it so that the number of list seats equaled the number of electorate seats or got rid of the electorate seats altogether. I certainly would not support going back to an FPP system.

  94. For those of you who still think that America is a democracy read a book called “the best democracy money can buy”

  95. Lew,

    Whoring, Idiot, Wingnut, Conspiracy nut, axes to grind.

    I think I am beginning to see why the majority of the Standard readers chose to lurk rather than partake in the discussions. It’s because of bullies like you.

    I’ll tell you why, since you seem to have appropriated the job of moderator, I sometimes touch upon the 911 truth movement. I try to do so without hijacking threads and with the utmost respect for the people who run this blog.

    For seven long years New Zealand has been involved in the war in Afghanistan. 1200 to 1300 young New Zealand men have served there and there is no end in sight to that war.

    Recently the US VA had to admit that as much as 18 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans a day succeed in committing suicide when they come home from the wars.

    The government did not want to release those figures and only did so because they were forced to do so after a court case.

    The United Nations have recently sounded the alarm bell over the many civilian casualties in Afghanistan; the war kiwis call “the good war’ as opposed to the war in Iraq about which kiwi say, “well at least within get involved in that one.’

    All these events followed after the attacks of 911. Last year in a Zogby poll it turned out that 80% of the American population believes the their government lied to them about what happened on 911 and 56% of the American population wants a new and independent investigation into what happened on 911.

    We recently started an 11th of every month 911 truth group of which there is one in hundreds of big cities around a world and the United States to spread the information and evidence to as many people as we can find receptive.

    We found for example that 9 out of 10 new Zealanders days do not know that the third building collapsed on that day. It was a 47 floor high-rise office block containing CIA headquarters, Giuliani’s bunker, the archives for a great many fraud cases of Wall Street and other assorted secretive organisations.
    It collapsed 6 hours after the twin towers collapsed with only minor fires a minor damage so footprint within 6 ½ seconds.

    That is freefall speed.

    A Dutch demolition expert has gone on record on Dutch TV stating that it was a controlled demolition. He has done so not once but several times in several different interviews.
    If you read this and you were not aware of building 7 collapsing the way that it did than you owe it to herself to Google: WTC7 collapse. If after watching the footage this resembles a controlled demolition to you too then you owe it to yourself to go down the rabbit hole and find out what really happened.
    Because if like millions of us you have to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t 19 Arabs they have to wonder why we are still in Afghanistan and why we went there in the first place.

    I comment here and on frog blog because I hope that I will get through to those who are willing to examine the evidence that has been collected by literally thousands of scientists and relevant professionals. The conclusion is that two airplanes with only a moderate amount of kerosene, most of the burned off on impact, would not have contained sufficient energy to pulverise the twin towers into Pyroclastic flows. An additional conclusion is that WTC7 could not have collapsed into dust in 6 ½ seconds into its own footprint without the help of a team of demolition experts. No steel framed building collapsed before or after the events of 911, even though they’ve been fires in steel framed buildings that burned hotter and longer.
    Only three steel framed buildings collapsed into Pyroclastic flows as a result of fire ever. All three collapsed on the same day and in the same city, in the same complex. Buildings in between the twin towers and WTC7 were damaged but did not collapse as a result of falling debris.
    Conclusion; it was impossible for 19 young Arabs to cause the destruction we witnessed that day.
    And yes Lew, I want to reach as many people as I can. We don’t earn any money of this, in fact it costs most of us a huge amount of time and money and sleepless nights. Some of us, like me, do this full time with the support of our partners, some of us can only spent part time on it but there is hundreds of thousands of us trying to bring the truth to our fellow citizens.

    Our goal is public awareness of what really happened on 911, justice for the victims of 911 (the majority of the people who lost loved ones desperately want a new and independent investigation) Healthcare for the first responders who are now dying by the droves because of the toxic dust they breathed in while trying to rescue and later clean up the crime scene.

    We want to bring back the wars in the public awareness and we want for New Zealand to have the war in Afghanistan be part of the election agenda.

    Given that the real moderators of the standard have shown at least some compassion in allowing me some space to address the 911 issue, I have to conclude that there is at least some interest and curiosity.

    And for this I am extremely grateful.

    Kia ora, Standard crew.

  96. Billy 96

    Ev, I am really enjoying this. While you are about it, can you please enlighten me about the so-called “moon landings”?

  97. Phil 97

    Tom,

    The only racists in New Zealand are those believe that the poor little brown folk can’t do anything for themselves, and they need the help of the much smarter benevolent white folk… you sound like one of them

  98. Billy,

    What about the moonlandings?

  99. Billy 99

    Ev, you mean the “so-called moon landings”, surely. You don’t sound like the kind of person to be sucked in by that cock and bull story.

  100. Lew 100

    Ev: You keep trying to rope me into debating your `facts’, but I’m not going to do it. I’m happy to let your rantings stand on their own merits. Good luck with your crusade.

    L

    Captcha: `Homicides wife’. That’s going a bit far.

  101. higherstandard 101

    TomS

    Or should that be Uncle Tom – it is some time since I’ve seen such a racist load of BS posted anywhere.

  102. TomS 102

    higherstandard, when you guys can debate fact rather than engage in your usual tiresome attempts at being the internet version of the KKK trying to burn a virtual cross on the lawn of those you don’t agree with in order to bully and intimidate maybe I’ll bother to give you the time of day.

  103. No Lew,

    Let’s not discuss facts I agree. Let’s stick with the official unproven
    “conspiracy theory”, that makes perfect sense to me.

    Billy,

    I don’t care what happened either way with the moon landings. Did they happen, did they not happen? I really don’t care. I don’t waste my time on it.

    But when a government starts two wars, and is now working on a third one with millions of people dead or damaged, refugee, traumatised with countries destroyed and uninhabitable because of an “alleged terror attack” don’t you think that it is worth looking into?

    Don’t you think it strange that the 911 commission doesn’t even mention WTC 7? That no official explanation has ever been given?

    Imagine a sky scraper of 47 floors Appr. 130m high. Bam, (you can hear the explosions that precede the demolition)
    This is a 6 minute part of an Italian documentary, be sure to watch it until the end. By the way, the BBC announced the collapse 20 minutes to early. a long link

    [lprent: corrected long link that was flowing off the page]

  104. higherstandard 104

    Uncletom

    When you can provide some evidence that NZ middle class white males consider it their God ordained right to lord it over “brown folk and that they consider everyone who votes differently to them as “their sexual, racial and social inferiors”

    I might accept that your are not a complete buffoon, until such time you are in my humble view not only a buffoon but a devisive prat.

  105. Billy 105

    TomS,

    HS kinda has a point.

    “Middle aged white males were enraged when the South Auckland vote came in and got Labour over the line in 2005.”

    Got a link for that?

    “The idea of the Pacific Island women who cleans their loos thwarting their God given right to a big tax cut has driven them to distraction over the last few years, because its shaken their belief system that tells them they have a patriarchal entitlement charge, the rich white men in the castles and the brown brown folk at their gate, as the Lord almighty ordained.”

    Got a link for that?

    “They will never accept a system that gives those they consider their sexual, racial and social inferiors as much say in the running of the country.”

    Got a link for that?

    Or are you just making shit up to justify your prejudices?

    [lprent: thats good Billy. You’re starting to sound like rOb, which isn’t a bad thing]

  106. sean14 106

    Someone better tell the multibillion dollar advertising industry that their efforts are futile. I expect they’ll want to clear out their desks on Monday.

    Rob – Thankfully then the electorate has you to protect it from itself. Thank you!

  107. Awesome Billy,

    No matter how many links I give about 911 for you to verify, you go on ridiculing me and ignoring the evidence but when somebody writes something you want him to give you links. What if he gave you the links would you go on ridiculing him as well or would you go there to verify his statements through the link.

    you know what I think, you are just too chicken shit to check my links because if you can not deny what you see there you’re world will go in a spin. As did mine for quit awhile by the way.

    Chicken shit, chicken shit, Billy is a scaredy cat

    Captcha: afraid ap-. Very apt. lol

  108. Billy 108

    Hi ev,

    I do not understand the question. Sorry.

  109. Lew 109

    There is no question. Just the answer. And if you don’t see the answer, well, then … there’s no helping you.

    L

  110. Wow Lew,

    That is deep.

  111. r0b 111

    Thankfully then the electorate has you to protect it from itself. Thank you!

    No problem sean, all part of the service.

  112. vto 112

    Is it just my imagination or does this site really not like white middle class males? (tom s 12.37pm)

    – hi rOb

    captcha – which happens, ha ha

    [lprent: I run this site, you address it and you address me. I am a white middle class male if you want to use those terms.

    I am also a programmer which is of more relevance, and I don’t like opinions being attributed to a computer program. I view comments addressed to the site as being an attempt to duck talking to the person you’re upset with. Talk to the person whose posts and/or comments you object to.

    Don’t talk to me.]

  113. Lew 113

    Ev: Tell you what – a truce. I’ll go and watch your conspiracy theorist 9/11 films as well (I’m a propaganda geek, it’s why I got into polly sigh) – and you read Eric Hoffer’s `The True Believer’. I’ll mail you a copy if you promise to actually read it.

    Maybe then we can talk.

    L

    Captcha: `encourage side’. This recaptcha business is wonderful.

  114. Matthew Pilott 114

    vto, yes, it is your imagination.

    It’s your imagination that lets you see one comment, and imagine that it is representative of “this site” – whatever that might actually be…

    (woohoo, I edited a faulty grammar!)

    [lprent: thanks – I missed that one.]

  115. r0b 115

    – hi rOb

    Hi vto – hope the surfing weekend went well…

  116. vto 116

    Sheesh Iprent, calm down. I was referring to the majority users of the site, not whoever the person is running it. Maybe see Mr Pilott’s comment re imagination.

    Tom S’s bigotted racism went virtually unchecked by other users so I simply asked the question of “the site”, meaning its users. Challenging racism where it lurks Iprent.

    Just trying to imagine the response if Tom S’s post had been similarly dismissive and nasty about gays, whales or equal-rights activists, to use some old terms.

    [lprent: Those things don’t concern me in this role.
    I defend the site from direct and indirect attacks (the latter are tactics making the comment area an unreadable cesspool). I tend to go for a robust defense.
    People can discuss their differences of opinions between themselves. I only get concerned when it drops into a flamewar.]

  117. Lew,

    Accepted.

    I’ll be in Auckland on the 11th of June. To help local 911 truthers to start up an 11th of every month movement.
    And in Wellington on the 11th of July to help them there.
    Are you in any of these locations, that would be the easiest.

    The places were we will do our street action will be announced on my blog.

    And yes, I will read the book.

    For those of you who want to watch a real authoritative documentary on the subject watch:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIhTXQfiENI it is a 9 part series of 10 minutes each, but I would be happy if you just started with the WTC 7 video.

    Also Google: 11th of every month movement

    The American people are in trouble and they need our help

    By the way, my blog went up 21 places on the NZ blogosphere ranking and was promoted by Tim Selwyn as being Nutty and conspiracy HQ so it goes to show that ignorance is wide spread both in the right and left wing of the kiwi blog world.

  118. Lew,

    I looked up the book and it looks really interesting.
    Yes, I will definitely read it.

  119. lprent 119

    As a complete side issue – vto’s comment about the “majority users” on this site. I don’t think that there is a majority on most topics.

    If you look at it by the number of comments (obviously not the posts – this is a labour movement site after all), I think it splits fairly evenly on almost every main political axis. Similarly the quality of comments seems to be high across the whole spectrum.

    What is encouraging to me is the strong centrist/extremist split and the slowing increasing number of female commentators.

    Overall it makes for some very interesting discussions.

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    Murray McCully must send the strongest possible message to the Nauruan Government that New Zealand does not condone its actions given the disturbing developments there, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “Right now we are seeing Nauru stripped of… ...
    4 days ago
  • Recovery needs more than a rebrand
    Today’s announcement of new governance arrangements for Canterbury seems to be nothing more than a fresh coat of paint on the same old approach, says Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “The Canterbury Recovery has been too slow, with… ...
    4 days ago
  • Copper decision a victory for status quo, not Kiwi households
    New Zealanders hoping for cheaper copper broadband will be disappointed by the Commerce Commission’s latest decision in the long running saga to determine the price of copper, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “In an apparent attempt to appease everyone,… ...
    4 days ago
  • It’s time for hard decisions in the Bay
     The Ruataniwha dam project is turning into a huge white elephant as the economics fail to stack up, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.  “Ruataniwha simply doesn’t make economic sense when you look at other major irrigation schemes around the… ...
    5 days ago
  • More testing won’t lift student achievement
    Hekia Parata’s latest plan to subject school students to even more testing and assessment won’t do anything to lift the educational achievement of the kids who are struggling, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “New Zealand school students are already… ...
    5 days ago
  • Bad week for NZ economy gets worse
    The bad news for the New Zealand economy got worse this morning with the 8th successive drop in dairy prices at this morning’s global dairy auction, again exposing the absence of any Plan B from the National Government, Labour’s Finance… ...
    5 days ago
  • System failing to protect women and children from family violence
    Last week we called for mandatory child safety investigations in domestic violence cases. This came after the coronial inquiry into the deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone and the verdict in the trial of the west Auckland boys charged with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Backers banking on social bonds cash?
    The Government is refusing to say what the $29 million it has set aside for its controversial social bonds programme is for, raising suspicions it is an upfront payment to the project backers, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A… ...
    5 days ago
  • Plastic Free July
    Today is the start of Plastic Free July. Since its inception in Perth, Western Australia four years ago, more and more people and organisations from around the world have joined the call to refuse single use plastic products. Nearly all… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    5 days ago
  • State house sell off Bill gives extraordinary powers
    The Government is about to give Ministers extraordinary powers to take direct personal control of selling state houses, exempting Ministers from normal legal requirements and leaving the sale process wide open for corruption, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The… ...
    5 days ago
  • Cash for charter schools, mould for state schools
    At a time when state schools are struggling in old, cold, mouldy buildings and can barely make ends meet, the National Government is shovelling cash at charter schools which aren’t even spending the funding on kids’ education, Labour’s Education spokesperson… ...
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand needs a wise response to climate change
    Today in Parliament I got to hear from a group of New Zealanders who are concerned for the future of our country. Called Wise Response, the group is a broad coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers, artists, sportspeople and others who… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • No alternative as waste scheme trashed
    Nick Smith must explain how he is going to prevent contamination of New Zealand’s ground and water with liquid and hazardous waste after scrapping the only monitoring scheme and offering no replacement, says Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Megan Woods. “From today,… ...
    5 days ago
  • Flawed system rates death traps as safe
    ACC Minister Nikki Kaye needs to come clean about what really lies behind the reclassification of 18 vehicles in her new motor vehicle registration system introduced today, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. "New Zealanders deserve the truth about the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo
     Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.  “It’s not good enough that after two years of… ...
    6 days ago
  • New twist in state house sell-off saga
    The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government fees will hit charities hard
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams. “National’s… ...
    6 days ago
  • Four out of ten for Simon’s Bridges
    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    6 days ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    6 days ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    7 days ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    7 days ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    1 week ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    1 week ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    1 week ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    2 weeks ago

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